Poll

Will we be able to populate another star system someday

Yes, I think we will!
37 (78.7%)
No, humans will destroy themselves before we achieve this goal!
6 (12.8%)
Maybe, I just don't care...
4 (8.5%)

Total Members Voted: 47

Voting closed: December 12, 2006, 12:51:50 PM

Author Topic: How could we populate another star system?  (Read 15876 times)

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Offline Joe Shmoe

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How could we populate another star system?
« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2006, 11:02:01 AM »
mmm, borg...

Offline jason

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How could we populate another star system?
« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2006, 03:53:38 PM »
Quote from: "cshorey"
Ignoring his religious overtones, Frank Tipler has pointed out that perhaps it would be better if we didn't get so attached to the concept of "humanity" and identified instead with "intelligence".  Then the question would be, how do we get intelligence to another star system.  His answer was to develop the technology to create a robot that can make copies of itself (a Von Neuman device) with a silicon based CPU that can pass the Turing test, send that out to other solar systems where it can use the raw materials it finds to make more copies of itself, and then send those copies out to new star systems, etc, etc, etc. ... But hey, throw some human zygotes out there too just in case it works, and then sit back and let the human-robot wars begin.  :wink:

This was the theme of Greg Bear's excellent novel The Forge of God and its sequel Anvil of Stars: a sentient race creates a "race" of planet-transforming machines and lets them loose on the universe... and the machines take it upon themselves to turn any inhabited system they encounter to rubble (to make more of themselves?). The sentients then come along behind, desperately trying to rescue at least some of the indigenous life on the worlds that the machines destroy.
quot;Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." - Philip K. Dick
"Scientific skepticism: the buck stops at reality."

Offline leonet

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How could we populate another star system?
« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2006, 09:10:19 PM »
As I've written before, I think we have to realize that individuals like Kurzweil, Tipler and Hawking (in his popular writing persona) are futurists. They provide a framework for future research but we have to remember that it's all speculation.

I do think that the most likely scenario would look something like the "singularity" where humans "download" their consciousness into artificial intelligences that do the exploring and colonizing.  There won't be a human-robot war because we will be "mashed up" into one intelligent entity.  :wink:
Use the word cybernetics, Norbert, because nobody knows what it means. This will always put you at an advantage in arguments.” -Claude Shannon

Offline Nigel

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How could we populate another star system?
« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2006, 09:49:48 PM »
I read a paper about ten or so years ago which postulated that a long distance interstellar colonization could occur over three or four generations of travel if the voyage took along with them an asteroid or comet to mine for needed material along the voyage.  While I think it may be a viable concept in principle, how bad would it have to get back home to sink resources into a ship, propulsion system, and a poor comet to fling out for a 150 year, one way journey to an unknown place.  Sure isn't like taking a Corellian Transport.

Do I think it could be done, yes.  Do I find it likely any time in the next few hundred years, doubtful.

Offline jason

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How could we populate another star system?
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2006, 10:15:14 PM »
Quote from: "leonet"
I do think that the most likely scenario would look something like the "singularity" where humans "download" their consciousness into artificial intelligences that do the exploring and colonizing.  There won't be a human-robot war because we will be "mashed up" into one intelligent entity.  :wink:

Just out of interest, assuming this technology were possible, once you've uploaded your consciousness into the system, what happens to the consciousness residing in your physical body? My assumption on how this works is that the "I"/self that existed prior to the upload would still be there. All you've effectively done is copied a snapshot of your consciousness, at which point there's now two separate consciousnesses or "I"s, each of which will continue to exist independently.

So, I walk aware from the uploading machine and go about my life, while the other consciousness that was me (and presumably also believes its me) can go exploring or whatever.

It's a kind of immortality... for your copy. For you (the "I think therefore I am" part), there's no extension of life in any way.

Am I misinterpreting this? When I've heard it described, there always seemed to be some kind of implicit assumption that it's the "I"/self that gets uploaded, rather than just a copied snapshot. Do others see it a different way?
quot;Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." - Philip K. Dick
"Scientific skepticism: the buck stops at reality."

Offline Clintsc9

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How could we populate another star system?
« Reply #20 on: December 15, 2006, 06:52:36 AM »
Reminds me of a time when fax machines were only a few years old.  One detective came into my office where the fax machine was, put his report in the tray, dialled the number and pressed start.  The machine proceeded to do its thing and he walked away happy it was working.
A short time later I phoned his office and asked if he wanted his report back.
"What?  Didn't it go?"  So far as he was concerned the original had been sent.
I laughed for days.
Clint Lovell
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Why does confirmation bias always happen to me?

Offline leonet

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How could we populate another star system?
« Reply #21 on: December 15, 2006, 05:47:39 PM »
Quote from: "jason"

Am I misinterpreting this? When I've heard it described, there always seemed to be some kind of implicit assumption that it's the "I"/self that gets uploaded, rather than just a copied snapshot. Do others see it a different way?


It does seem likely that one could generate one or several copies of one's "self".  It comes back to the whole question of whether consciousness is simply a complex computational process.  If it is, then I can't think of any reason why multiple instances of the same original couldn't exist.

Pretty freaky eh?

 :shock:
Use the word cybernetics, Norbert, because nobody knows what it means. This will always put you at an advantage in arguments.” -Claude Shannon

Offline jason

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How could we populate another star system?
« Reply #22 on: December 15, 2006, 06:01:49 PM »
Quote from: "leonet"
It does seem likely that one could generate one or several copies of one's "self".  It comes back to the whole question of whether consciousness is simply a complex computational process.  If it is, then I can't think of any reason why multiple instances of the same original couldn't exist.

Pretty freaky eh?

Yeah. It makes the breezy promises of future immortality through the process of consciousness uploading kinda hollow. Ditto for being able to transfer a copy of ones consciousness to another world: great for the copy, but leaves the original right where it started.
quot;Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." - Philip K. Dick
"Scientific skepticism: the buck stops at reality."

Offline leonet

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How could we populate another star system?
« Reply #23 on: December 15, 2006, 08:31:51 PM »
Well, I think it's a matter of letting go of the concept that there is an undefinable "self" that makes the original authentic and the copy "fake".  If the AI incorporates a perfect simulation of all the nature and nurture that made someone who they are, how is that less authentic than the original?

Anyway, I think these ideas go to show that science can lead to introspection and fascinating philosophical questions.  They are not the exclusive domain of religion.
Use the word cybernetics, Norbert, because nobody knows what it means. This will always put you at an advantage in arguments.” -Claude Shannon

Offline jason

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How could we populate another star system?
« Reply #24 on: December 15, 2006, 08:55:03 PM »
Quote from: "leonet"
Well, I think it's a matter of letting go of the concept that there is an undefinable "self" that makes the original authentic and the copy "fake".  If the AI incorporates a perfect simulation of all the nature and nurture that made someone who they are, how is that less authentic than the original?

I didn't mean to imply that at all! The copy would (presumably) be absolutely identical to the original self. From the copy's point of view, it would be an entirely independent consciousness, with its own self of sense, its own "I". The copy is in no way less authentic than the original; absolutely equivalent in all respects.

The point is that it doesn't help me (the original) to live forever. I'm not going to experience the future after I die; it'll be my copy living its own (now effectively infinitely extended) life, which will have its own experiences for as long as its existence is maintained.

In other words, great for the copy; it just sucks to be the original. :)
quot;Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." - Philip K. Dick
"Scientific skepticism: the buck stops at reality."

Offline 6for2

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How could we populate another star system?
« Reply #25 on: December 15, 2006, 09:45:25 PM »
I am by no means an expert in this field, but from what I understand there is no "operating system" for the brain and no real analog for a hard drive either.  Therefore, "downloading" one's conciousness would be no mean feat. That said, I should probably just shut up and let someone like Dr. Novella speak up here, should he have the time to do so.

Offline Mike

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How could we populate another star system?
« Reply #26 on: December 15, 2006, 10:01:35 PM »
I hear Windows Vista Ultimate will ship with HomoSapien Brain v1.0. I don't think I would trust my consciousness with that product until at least Service Pack 2. :)
"We're just so damn exciting." - Dr. Steven Novella, MD

Offline Dirty J. Martini

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How could we populate another star system?
« Reply #27 on: December 16, 2006, 02:39:28 AM »
Verner Vinge wrote several short stories about many of these topics. I don't have the books handy, so I don't remember the names of the stories, but I've enjoyed his writing quite a bit over the years. You should definitely check out his work if you like sci-fi.

Offline crasster

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How could we populate another star system?
« Reply #28 on: December 20, 2006, 03:55:25 PM »
I've read a similar publication as an earlier poster on the viability of inter-stellar travel.  It's really only feasible with humans over multi-generations.  Even at a significant proportion of C, the time to reach our nearest stars is multiple decades.  Telepresence, robots and relay stations (to shift the data back) are our best hope of reaching nearby stars and experiencing the results.  The weird thing is that we would have no hope of controlling the ships - the time delay is just too significant.  I imagine any interstellar probes would need to be autonomous decision makers.  Given we can barely get Hummers to drive themselves over dirt trails - it's unlikely we'll have autonomous probes hurtling at many thousands of km/hr negotiating the Oort cloud anytime soon!

Offline zylark

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How could we populate another star system?
« Reply #29 on: December 20, 2006, 06:25:26 PM »
I'll just stick to the solar system thank you very much :)

But perhaps, if cryogenics proves somewhat usefull... Not that I'd be on the passenger list, but you know, someone would be. Quite a few I suspect.

 

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