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(io9)   Can galactic empires exist without faster than light travel? It's more likely than you think   (io9.com) divider line 149
    More: Interesting, faster than light, interstellar travel, civilizations, countermeasures, Alpha Centauri  
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5199 clicks; posted to Geek » on 01 Apr 2014 at 11:45 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-04-01 09:32:07 AM  
img.fark.net
your technology is no match compared to the power of the force
 
2014-04-01 10:54:16 AM  
I don't see why not.

The British Empire was built when it took weeks or months for information to travel between the UK and its colonies strung out over the globe.  It just means that the local governors have more autonomy, and they aren't managed quite so closely as they would be closer to home.

Of course, that all changed with the wide-spread use of the telegraph beginning in the middle of the 19th Century.  The central government could then meddle more closely in the affairs of its far-flung colonies, but I just don't see that happening with a "galactic empire", which, btw, could probably only be a few light-years in size at most, because of travel issues.  If it takes you more than the lifespan of a single organism to travel from the central system to the farthest planet, you can't effectively rule them.
 
2014-04-01 10:57:31 AM  
SPACE BRIGADOON
 
2014-04-01 11:48:49 AM  

Mors: SPACE BRIGADOON


Heh.  Now I'm imagining Cyd Charisse dressed up like Barbarella.  And I LIKES it....
 
2014-04-01 11:50:00 AM  
But what will this do to the economics of interstellar trade?

(Fun fact:  Paul Krugman was inspired to go into economics by Asimov's psychohistory.)
 
2014-04-01 11:52:29 AM  

dittybopper: I don't see why not.

The British Empire was built when it took weeks or months for information to travel between the UK and its colonies strung out over the globe.  It just means that the local governors have more autonomy, and they aren't managed quite so closely as they would be closer to home.

Of course, that all changed with the wide-spread use of the telegraph beginning in the middle of the 19th Century.  The central government could then meddle more closely in the affairs of its far-flung colonies, but I just don't see that happening with a "galactic empire", which, btw, could probably only be a few light-years in size at most, because of travel issues.  If it takes you more than the lifespan of a single organism to travel from the central system to the farthest planet, you can't effectively rule them.


Methinks you did not rtfa.
 
2014-04-01 11:53:38 AM  
Ftl communication is possible with quantum computers. The travel though may not be. The laws of this physical universe prevent that, but others may not.
 
2014-04-01 11:55:21 AM  

bromah: Ftl communication is possible with quantum computers. The travel though may not be. The laws of this physical universe prevent that, but others may not.


Something something hainish ansible, something something.
 
2014-04-01 11:56:21 AM  
you can't go faster than light, but you can bend spacetime as much as you want.
 
2014-04-01 12:00:27 PM  

bromah: Ftl communication is possible with quantum computers.


do you mean quantum entanglement, and how?
 
2014-04-01 12:01:02 PM  
What the author is really trying to say is that he has no familiarity with the mathematics of theoretical physics.  Yes, he's right that FTL is impossible locally.  But there are multiple FTL theories out there that don't require breaking the laws of physics as we know them because the local speed never exceeds FTL.  Things like artificial wormhole generation or the AlcuWIErre drive are at least theoretically possible, if admittedly way beyond where we are now.

But who's to say we won't get reality to someday match the math?
 
2014-04-01 12:02:14 PM  

pacified: you can't go faster than light, but you can bend spacetime as much as you want.


When I hear this, I always recall the episode of Futurama where Professor Farnsworth explains that the dark matter engines don't move the ship but actually move the entire universe around the ship.
 
2014-04-01 12:02:45 PM  

dittybopper: I don't see why not.

The British Empire was built when it took weeks or months for information to travel between the UK and its colonies strung out over the globe.  It just means that the local governors have more autonomy, and they aren't managed quite so closely as they would be closer to home.

Of course, that all changed with the wide-spread use of the telegraph beginning in the middle of the 19th Century.  The central government could then meddle more closely in the affairs of its far-flung colonies, but I just don't see that happening with a "galactic empire", which, btw, could probably only be a few light-years in size at most, because of travel issues.  If it takes you more than the lifespan of a single organism to travel from the central system to the farthest planet, you can't effectively rule them.


Basically, without FTL the home world just has to assume that their colonies are successful and keep sending more colonists outward into the unknown. Every colony would have to be entirely self-sufficient and self-ruled. Eventually the colonized worlds would send their own colonists outward again. As long as outward expansion is maintained, the home world will never truly know how far their species has spread because they can't track the expansion in real time. And they may not know for centuries if or when their colonists or colonists' colonists (etc.) have encountered another sentient species. Eventually word would get back to them, but the news would be generations late.
 
2014-04-01 12:03:48 PM  

RealXavori: What the author is really trying to say is that he has no familiarity with the mathematics of theoretical physics.  Yes, he's right that FTL is impossible locally.  But there are multiple FTL theories out there that don't require breaking the laws of physics as we know them because the local speed never exceeds FTL.  Things like artificial wormhole generation or the AlcuWIErre drive are at least theoretically possible, if admittedly way beyond where we are now.

But who's to say we won't get reality to someday match the math?


Considering how much of the ST:TOS technology is in use today it's not far fetched that we will see much of the rest of it before too much longer.
 
2014-04-01 12:08:04 PM  
Seems like Orson Scott Card accomplished something similar-- a large interstellar government without FTL-- but I leave it to people that, like, know stuff to decide whether it is feasible.  IIRC, the ansible technology that allowed Ender to communicate with the long-departed warships, and the Starways Congress later to govern a large number of planets.  It's been a while, but isn't the ansible essentially based on quantum entanglement?  Nothing about that seems inherently forbidden, although it doesn't have the same interesting lockstep effect.  They still have to deal with the passage of external time during long-distance transit.
 
2014-04-01 12:09:11 PM  
OK, given that Alistair Reynolds has built an entire career as an author writing about basically nothing but how people would deal with this, both in terms of social adaptation and technological workarounds (phlebotenum-free, mostly)... I really can't give this guy a pass.

His "solution" to the light-speed limit is stupid, and he should feel bad.  The motivation to skip on the sleep-cycles in economic and technological terms is  overwhelming,to the point that no one would bother except maybe people on the actual ships.

I'm not saying it's impossible to write good science fiction within the light-speed limit (again, see Reynolds), this particular idea is just bad.  Historically, societies that intentionally cripple productivity and progress for any reason but to mitigate actual resource depletion usually aren't going to make it out of the  decade before being forced to shape up or getting crushed.

bromah: Ftl communication is possible with quantum computers.


Nope.

Not remotely how that works.
 
2014-04-01 12:09:27 PM  

Robin Hoodie: bromah: Ftl communication is possible with quantum computers.

do you mean quantum entanglement, and how?


Yes on entanglement. Someone who actually knows [redacted by the NSA] they're talking about may explain it better, but from what I've read, once the particles are entangled, no matter the distance between the particles, disruptions on one (say, affecting the rotation, so that you would be able to transmit in binary) will instantly transmit to the other. It was sorta demonstrated a few years back with labs on opposite sides of the globe showed transmission beyond the speed of light.

...
Just found this article. Off to read it.
 
2014-04-01 12:11:47 PM  
Anyone yet solve the problem of how to round up enough energy to accelerate a significant mass out of a significant gravitational well?

People keep using words like "fission drive" and "fusion drive", but I don't see how they manage to get around Newtonian mechanics.

mshipaship = -mpropellantapropellant
if mpropellant > myourentire planetthen no space travel for you
 
2014-04-01 12:12:41 PM  
Large interplanetary coalitions (not "empires") will emerge in time of course, but they won't look like this guy's novel. Instead, we will learn how to upload our essential selves into computers which will then transmit our minds to far flung receivers that have been sent ahead at STL speeds to interesting sun systems. You go to sleep; the computer burps you out as a laser/maser transmission at light speed, and you "wake up" at your destination. You will seem to have arrived at a virtual space ship, perhaps, ready to study the new system. Eventually, you'll be able to go down to surface level to explore in person, live there on a commune with friends, or even interact with the natives without  fear of infection because you're a 3D printed biologically inert quasi-native reconstituted popsicle...or something.

It would be awesome...I wish I could live long enough to see it come true...unless Haliburton-Bilewater uses this principle to invade our galactic neighbors. ;^)
 
2014-04-01 12:13:14 PM  

RealXavori: What the author is really trying to say is that he has no familiarity with the mathematics of theoretical physics.


The mathematics of wanton burrito meals... got it
 
2014-04-01 12:14:45 PM  
How can you have a "Galatic" civilization without FTL?

It is like saying there was a world Civilization before the Age of Sail.  Just because you can travel to the stars does not mean you can interact with it and form a Political enviroment
 
2014-04-01 12:17:25 PM  

Suckmaster Burstingfoam: Anyone yet solve the problem of how to round up enough energy to accelerate a significant mass out of a significant gravitational well?

People keep using words like "fission drive" and "fusion drive", but I don't see how they manage to get around Newtonian mechanics.


Voyager officially left our solar system last year.
So it is possible.

/E=MC2
//fission/fusion emits massive energy relative to weight
 
2014-04-01 12:19:11 PM  

Stone Meadow: Large interplanetary coalitions (not "empires") will emerge in time of course, but they won't look like this guy's novel. Instead, we will learn how to upload our essential selves into computers which will then transmit our minds to far flung receivers that have been sent ahead at STL speeds to interesting sun systems. You go to sleep; the computer burps you out as a laser/maser transmission at light speed, and you "wake up" at your destination. You will seem to have arrived at a virtual space ship, perhaps, ready to study the new system. Eventually, you'll be able to go down to surface level to explore in person, live there on a commune with friends, or even interact with the natives without  fear of infection because you're a 3D printed biologically inert quasi-native reconstituted popsicle...or something.

It would be awesome...I wish I could live long enough to see it come true...unless Haliburton-Bilewater uses this principle to invade our galactic neighbors. ;^)


That's the funny thing, people that accept light-speed in a vacuum as a universal speed limit believe in 'minds' that can be transmitted and downloaded into substrates as if those minds are software.
 
2014-04-01 12:24:09 PM  

Suckmaster Burstingfoam: Anyone yet solve the problem of how to round up enough energy to accelerate a significant mass out of a significant gravitational well?


build the spaceships in space?
 
2014-04-01 12:26:03 PM  

ampoliros: pacified: you can't go faster than light, but you can bend spacetime as much as you want.

When I hear this, I always recall the episode of Futurama where Professor Farnsworth explains that the dark matter engines don't move the ship but actually move the entire universe around the ship.


Jim_Callahan: OK, given that Alistair Reynolds has built an entire career as an author writing about basically nothing but how people would deal with this, both in terms of social adaptation and technological workarounds (phlebotenum-free, mostly)... I really can't give this guy a pass.

His "solution" to the light-speed limit is stupid, and he should feel bad.  The motivation to skip on the sleep-cycles in economic and technological terms is  overwhelming,to the point that no one would bother except maybe people on the actual ships.

I'm not saying it's impossible to write good science fiction within the light-speed limit (again, see Reynolds), this particular idea is just bad.  Historically, societies that intentionally cripple productivity and progress for any reason but to mitigate actual resource depletion usually aren't going to make it out of the  decade before being forced to shape up or getting crushed.

bromah: Ftl communication is possible with quantum computers.

Nope.

Not remotely how that works.


Motivation to an individual may be overwhelming, but to a society it would be imperative to keep everyone on the same clock. That is basically an exaggerated version of the free rider or tragedy of the commons problem.

It is not a stupid idea at all. A society that allowed itself to become fragmented by non FTL would quickly become a multitude of small societies and face conflict among them as they diverged.
 
2014-04-01 12:27:22 PM  

Suckmaster Burstingfoam: Anyone yet solve the problem of how to round up enough energy to accelerate a significant mass out of a significant gravitational well?

People keep using words like "fission drive" and "fusion drive", but I don't see how they manage to get around Newtonian mechanics.

mshipaship = -mpropellantapropellant
if mpropellant > myourentire planetthen no space travel for you


Fission/fusion is generally the power source, not the actual propulsion device.  What's usually implied is that the energy's used to drive charged particles out of a magnetic accelerator at high velocity to get as much kinetic energy out of a small reaction mass as possible.

I'm... a little weirded out that I have an actual answer for this question, I may read too much of this crap.
 
2014-04-01 12:28:44 PM  
Traversable wormholes would be nicer than FTL. FTL and sublight are great ways to smash into something at random and at high speed that object can be as small as a grain of sand.
 
2014-04-01 12:29:27 PM  
What we just need is some element 115 like the stuff Bob Lazar used at Area 51
 
2014-04-01 12:29:59 PM  

Witty_Retort: Yes on entanglement. Someone who actually knows [redacted by the NSA] they're talking about may explain it better, but from what I've read, once the particles are entangled, no matter the distance between the particles, disruptions on one (say, affecting the rotation, so that you would be able to transmit in binary) will instantly transmit to the other. It was sorta demonstrated a few years back with labs on opposite sides of the globe showed transmission beyond the speed of light.


Just because the particles affect each other instantly doesn't mean that the particles can be used to communicate information.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No-communication_theorem
 
2014-04-01 12:32:37 PM  

Nurglitch: That's the funny thing, people that accept light-speed in a vacuum as a universal speed limit believe in 'minds' that can be transmitted and downloaded into substrates as if those minds are software.


Are you purposely ignoring the rather large number of very smart people who consider such a future not only possible, but inevitable?
 
2014-04-01 12:40:38 PM  

Stone Meadow: Nurglitch: That's the funny thing, people that accept light-speed in a vacuum as a universal speed limit believe in 'minds' that can be transmitted and downloaded into substrates as if those minds are software.

Are you purposely ignoring the rather large number of very smart people who consider such a future not only possible, but inevitable?


Yes, because those 'very smart people' are very very wrong.
 
2014-04-01 12:41:15 PM  

Nurglitch: Stone Meadow: Large interplanetary coalitions (not "empires") will emerge in time of course, but they won't look like this guy's novel. Instead, we will learn how to upload our essential selves into computers which will then transmit our minds to far flung receivers that have been sent ahead at STL speeds to interesting sun systems. You go to sleep; the computer burps you out as a laser/maser transmission at light speed, and you "wake up" at your destination. You will seem to have arrived at a virtual space ship, perhaps, ready to study the new system. Eventually, you'll be able to go down to surface level to explore in person, live there on a commune with friends, or even interact with the natives without  fear of infection because you're a 3D printed biologically inert quasi-native reconstituted popsicle...or something.

It would be awesome...I wish I could live long enough to see it come true...unless Haliburton-Bilewater uses this principle to invade our galactic neighbors. ;^)

That's the funny thing, people that accept light-speed in a vacuum as a universal speed limit believe in 'minds' that can be transmitted and downloaded into substrates as if those minds are software.


Downloaded, maybe not. Copied? Why not? There's nothing magical about protein and water. Assuming current trends continue, we'll have sufficient comPootie Tangg power to simulate a human brain at the molecular level within the next 100 years. Who's to say that simulation won't be conscious?
 
2014-04-01 12:42:05 PM  

Sudo_Make_Me_A_Sandwich: Witty_Retort: Yes on entanglement. Someone who actually knows [redacted by the NSA] they're talking about may explain it better, but from what I've read, once the particles are entangled, no matter the distance between the particles, disruptions on one (say, affecting the rotation, so that you would be able to transmit in binary) will instantly transmit to the other. It was sorta demonstrated a few years back with labs on opposite sides of the globe showed transmission beyond the speed of light.

Just because the particles affect each other instantly doesn't mean that the particles can be used to communicate information.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No-communication_theorem


See Opposing Viewpoints on wiki and my link article on the possibility of entangled networks.

/not an expert, internet or otherwise, just from my cursory reading.
 
2014-04-01 12:42:14 PM  

nocturnal001: ampoliros: pacified: you can't go faster than light, but you can bend spacetime as much as you want.

When I hear this, I always recall the episode of Futurama where Professor Farnsworth explains that the dark matter engines don't move the ship but actually move the entire universe around the ship.

Jim_Callahan: OK, given that Alistair Reynolds has built an entire career as an author writing about basically nothing but how people would deal with this, both in terms of social adaptation and technological workarounds (phlebotenum-free, mostly)... I really can't give this guy a pass.

His "solution" to the light-speed limit is stupid, and he should feel bad.  The motivation to skip on the sleep-cycles in economic and technological terms is  overwhelming,to the point that no one would bother except maybe people on the actual ships.

I'm not saying it's impossible to write good science fiction within the light-speed limit (again, see Reynolds), this particular idea is just bad.  Historically, societies that intentionally cripple productivity and progress for any reason but to mitigate actual resource depletion usually aren't going to make it out of the  decade before being forced to shape up or getting crushed.

bromah: Ftl communication is possible with quantum computers.

Nope.

Not remotely how that works.

Motivation to an individual may be overwhelming, but to a society it would be imperative to keep everyone on the same clock. That is basically an exaggerated version of the free rider or tragedy of the commons problem.

It is not a stupid idea at all. A society that allowed itself to become fragmented by non FTL would quickly become a multitude of small societies and face conflict among them as they diverged.


Star trek was wrong. The needs of the few will always outweigh the many. Local needs will trump grand societal needs too. People would fight. We are not ants.

The Reynolds's books touch a little bit of both travel times (light huggers were cool) and the one society goal (whatever the hive people were called, not so cool)
 
2014-04-01 12:42:35 PM  

Lord Dimwit: Downloaded, maybe not. Copied? Why not? There's nothing magical about protein and water. Assuming current trends continue, we'll have sufficient comPootie Tangg power to simulate a human brain at the molecular level within the next 100 years. Who's to say that simulation won't be conscious?


If you accept that, you pretty much have to accept we're living in a simulation.
 
2014-04-01 12:45:21 PM  

treesloth: Seems like Orson Scott Card accomplished something similar-- a large interstellar government without FTL-- but I leave it to people that, like, know stuff to decide whether it is feasible.  IIRC, the ansible technology that allowed Ender to communicate with the long-departed warships, and the Starways Congress later to govern a large number of planets.  It's been a while, but isn't the ansible essentially based on quantum entanglement?  Nothing about that seems inherently forbidden, although it doesn't have the same interesting lockstep effect.  They still have to deal with the passage of external time during long-distance transit.


The ansible is an interesting work around but it is still essentially a cheat. Its been a while since I slogged through those books but did he ever talk about bandwidth limits?

I once read a piece in Scientific American that explained how quantum entanglement didn't violate the lightspeed limit. I wish I could recall how. Something about the information in the entangled pair had to be transmitted via tradtional means or something.

As for the idea of all of society going into cold sleep, it is an interesting one. Plenty of room to explore the ramifications. Has anyone here read it?
 
2014-04-01 12:45:22 PM  

Sudo_Make_Me_A_Sandwich: Lord Dimwit: Downloaded, maybe not. Copied? Why not? There's nothing magical about protein and water. Assuming current trends continue, we'll have sufficient comPootie Tangg power to simulate a human brain at the molecular level within the next 100 years. Who's to say that simulation won't be conscious?

If you accept that, you pretty much have to accept we're living in a simulation.


Who's to say we're not? Like in the Matrix, if the simulation is good enough that your brain doesn't know the difference....
 
2014-04-01 12:46:06 PM  

RealXavori: What the author is really trying to say is that he has no familiarity with the mathematics of theoretical physics.  Yes, he's right that FTL is impossible locally.  But there are multiple FTL theories out there that don't require breaking the laws of physics as we know them because the local speed never exceeds FTL.  Things like artificial wormhole generation or the AlcuWIErre drive are at least theoretically possible, if admittedly way beyond where we are now.


None of those FTL methods are really workable even in theory (at least, today's theories).

There is a theorem in general relativity that says that you don't get FTL travel without having "exotic matter".  This is basically matter with weird properties like negative energy; technically, it has to satisfy the dominant energy condition, meaning that no local observer can ever see energy flowing FTL.

Unfortunately, no experiment or theory has suggested the existence of this stuff, so it's basically unobtanium.  This rules out AlcuWIErre warp drives, traversable wormholes, etc.
 
2014-04-01 12:47:33 PM  
I still think FTL is possible through folding of space-time. I imagine you'd only be able to send very small objects through though because the energy requirements would be huge.

Probably not realistic for a good number of years though. We're going to hit AI sometime this century, whether that means uploadable minds or simulated consciousness. After that, I can't begin to guess the kinds of possibilities in terms of discovery and advancement at that point.

I highly recommend reading Stross's Accelerando or Kurzweil's book (even though take Kurzweil with a grain of salt because the guy is obsessed with cheating death and bringing his dad back to life).
 
2014-04-01 12:49:35 PM  

Jim_Callahan: Suckmaster Burstingfoam: Anyone yet solve the problem of how to round up enough energy to accelerate a significant mass out of a significant gravitational well?

People keep using words like "fission drive" and "fusion drive", but I don't see how they manage to get around Newtonian mechanics.

mshipaship = -mpropellantapropellant
if mpropellant > myourentire planetthen no space travel for you

Fission/fusion is generally the power source, not the actual propulsion device.  What's usually implied is that the energy's used to drive charged particles out of a magnetic accelerator at high velocity to get as much kinetic energy out of a small reaction mass as possible.

I'm... a little weirded out that I have an actual answer for this question, I may read too much of this crap.


So basically a particle accelerator slash rail gun where the 'bullet' stays still and the gun launches itself.
 
2014-04-01 12:49:49 PM  

bdub77: We're going to hit AI sometime this century, whether that means uploadable minds or simulated consciousness.


top men have estimated the awakening of skynet sometime around dwarf fortress patch 0.53
 
2014-04-01 12:52:08 PM  
That seems like a lot of effort and coordination to maintain timelines.  No wonder they can't develop FTL travel.

I'd like to see a movie of this where the first hour is just everyone sleeping in tubes. It'd be like Pandorum without Dennis Quaid.
 
2014-04-01 12:55:28 PM  

lectos: That seems like a lot of effort and coordination to maintain timelines.  No wonder they can't develop FTL travel.

I'd like to see a movie of this where the first hour is just everyone sleeping in tubes. It'd be like Pandorum without Dennis Quaid.


rescepto.files.wordpress.com
 
2014-04-01 12:58:29 PM  

McGrits: nocturnal001: ampoliros: pacified: you can't go faster than light, but you can bend spacetime as much as you want.

When I hear this, I always recall the episode of Futurama where Professor Farnsworth explains that the dark matter engines don't move the ship but actually move the entire universe around the ship.

Jim_Callahan: OK, given that Alistair Reynolds has built an entire career as an author writing about basically nothing but how people would deal with this, both in terms of social adaptation and technological workarounds (phlebotenum-free, mostly)... I really can't give this guy a pass.

His "solution" to the light-speed limit is stupid, and he should feel bad.  The motivation to skip on the sleep-cycles in economic and technological terms is  overwhelming,to the point that no one would bother except maybe people on the actual ships.

I'm not saying it's impossible to write good science fiction within the light-speed limit (again, see Reynolds), this particular idea is just bad.  Historically, societies that intentionally cripple productivity and progress for any reason but to mitigate actual resource depletion usually aren't going to make it out of the  decade before being forced to shape up or getting crushed.

bromah: Ftl communication is possible with quantum computers.

Nope.

Not remotely how that works.

Motivation to an individual may be overwhelming, but to a society it would be imperative to keep everyone on the same clock. That is basically an exaggerated version of the free rider or tragedy of the commons problem.

It is not a stupid idea at all. A society that allowed itself to become fragmented by non FTL would quickly become a multitude of small societies and face conflict among them as they diverged.

Star trek was wrong. The needs of the few will always outweigh the many. Local needs will trump grand societal needs too. People would fight. We are not ants.

The Reynolds's books touch a little bit of both travel times (light huggers were coo ...


We have the same issues now, and yeah people do fight against "the system". I don't see how that is different.
 
2014-04-01 01:00:59 PM  
Professor : These are the dark matter engines I invented. They allow my starship to travel between galaxies in mere hours.
Cubert : That's impossible. You can't go faster than the speed of light.
Professor : Of course not. That's why scientists increased the speed of light in 2208.
Cubert : Also impossible
Professor : And what makes my engines truly remarkable is the afterburner, which delivers 200% fuel efficiency.
Cubert : That's especially impossible.
Professor : Not at all. It's very simple.
Cubert : Then explain it.
Professor : Now that's impossible! It came to me in a dream, and I forgot it in another dream.
 
2014-04-01 01:03:48 PM  

Nurglitch: Stone Meadow: Nurglitch: That's the funny thing, people that accept light-speed in a vacuum as a universal speed limit believe in 'minds' that can be transmitted and downloaded into substrates as if those minds are software.

Are you purposely ignoring the rather large number of very smart people who consider such a future not only possible, but inevitable?

Yes, because those 'very smart people' are very very wrong.


Nah...I'm going with Moravec, Kurzweil and that camp on this.
 
2014-04-01 01:04:15 PM  

Lord Dimwit: Nurglitch: Stone Meadow: Large interplanetary coalitions (not "empires") will emerge in time of course, but they won't look like this guy's novel. Instead, we will learn how to upload our essential selves into computers which will then transmit our minds to far flung receivers that have been sent ahead at STL speeds to interesting sun systems. You go to sleep; the computer burps you out as a laser/maser transmission at light speed, and you "wake up" at your destination. You will seem to have arrived at a virtual space ship, perhaps, ready to study the new system. Eventually, you'll be able to go down to surface level to explore in person, live there on a commune with friends, or even interact with the natives without  fear of infection because you're a 3D printed biologically inert quasi-native reconstituted popsicle...or something.

It would be awesome...I wish I could live long enough to see it come true...unless Haliburton-Bilewater uses this principle to invade our galactic neighbors. ;^)

That's the funny thing, people that accept light-speed in a vacuum as a universal speed limit believe in 'minds' that can be transmitted and downloaded into substrates as if those minds are software.

Downloaded, maybe not. Copied? Why not? There's nothing magical about protein and water. Assuming current trends continue, we'll have sufficient comPootie Tangg power to simulate a human brain at the molecular level within the next 100 years. Who's to say that simulation won't be conscious?


The definitions of consciousness and simulation, for one thing. The Hard Problem of consciousness for another.

I think the main point that people blithely ignore is what that "protein and water" is doing, as well as what it is. That's the general thrust of the position that minds are software, that what the substrate is doing is what's important, and so long as it's doing the same thing that brains do when those brains are conscious, then it's all good.  The problem being that the state or process or program of consciousness remains undefined. Supposedly once a brain-simulation has been run with sufficient detail it will be/do consciousness, but then there's plenty of brains out here definitely non-conscious. So that begs the question, in the technical sense of the phrase.

The so-called 'hard problem' is related to this, namely that consciousness has a subjectivity that means we'll never be certain that a particular configuration or program really captures what it is to be conscious. After all, the mysterians may be right and if it's not a question of simulating or duplicating a brain and there's some sort of Searlean Unified Field of Consciousness (seriously, that's a thing some very smart people seriously believe), then presuming that the simulation or duplication is sufficient is wrong. Again, that's because consciousness hasn't been defined according to any objective metric.

Which is my point, mainly that the science of minds is really, really behind that of physics in terms of how the problem has been framed, let alone At least notions of faster-than-light travel are considered in relation to a successful theory. Yet nobody involved in the many mind-related fields (neuroscience, psychology, phrenology, cognitive science, etc) has a successful theory of consciousness.

Which isn't to say that everyone and their donkey doesn't have their own personal philosophy about whatever this 'mind' thing is supposed to be, and usually a strong cultural inclination to take talk of minds seriously (just like some people talk about souls and astral-projection and so on). It's just weird that people would, even in a pop-science mindset, consider the notions equivalent. I mean, why don't we just magic ourselves past the speed of light, right?

At least people are willing to speak out against the quantum-hokem Deepak Chopras out there.
 
2014-04-01 01:05:45 PM  
My newest science fiction novel

Stopped reading right there.
 
2014-04-01 01:07:23 PM  

MadMattressMack: Professor : These are the dark matter engines I invented. They allow my starship to travel between galaxies in mere hours.
Cubert : That's impossible. You can't go faster than the speed of light.
Professor : Of course not. That's why scientists increased the speed of light in 2208.
Cubert : Also impossible
Professor : And what makes my engines truly remarkable is the afterburner, which delivers 200% fuel efficiency.
Cubert : That's especially impossible.
Professor : Not at all. It's very simple.
Cubert : Then explain it.
Professor : Now that's impossible! It came to me in a dream, and I forgot it in another dream.


What is this from?
 
2014-04-01 01:09:45 PM  

Stone Meadow: Moravec


Stone Meadow: Nurglitch: Stone Meadow: Nurglitch: That's the funny thing, people that accept light-speed in a vacuum as a universal speed limit believe in 'minds' that can be transmitted and downloaded into substrates as if those minds are software.

Are you purposely ignoring the rather large number of very smart people who consider such a future not only possible, but inevitable?

Yes, because those 'very smart people' are very very wrong.

Nah...I'm going with Moravec, Kurzweil and that camp on this.


"Moravec ... writes bizarre, confused, incomprehensible things about consciousness as an abstraction, like number, and as a mere "interpretation" of brain activity. He also loses his grip on the distinction between virtual and real reality as his speculations spiral majestically into incoherence."
 
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