[ExI] [Open Manufacturing] Re: Power sats and the industrial development of space (was global waming again)

Jeff Davis jrd1415 at gmail.com
Thu Mar 26 21:55:25 UTC 2009

On Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 4:13 PM, Bryan Bishop <kanzure at gmail.com> wrote:

> Under what authority were those 137 properties designed? This reeks of
> bullshitting.

Huh?  This is Freitas authority.  I hold that pretty high.  Me?  I'm a
bullshitter, no question.  But Freitas?

> There's no master data set of all possible manufacturing
> processes. And I have yet to find a partial data set of said
> manufacturing processes (except perhaps the recent one I sent to the
> list re: thermodynamic analyses), which would be somewhat useful in a
> slightly different way. But anyway, there are certain properties of
> self-replication that need to be well-defined, otherwise you're just
> flinging poo like a monkey.

> This is why Freitas put a significant
> amount of time thinking about 'vitamins'.

I don't mean to be rude, but which is it: is he a bullshitter or a
citation-worthy source?
I think we can both agree that Freitas is a serious authority -- a
demi-god maybe, but no god. ;-)

> That's the thing- it either self-replicates
> or it doesn't, none of this "it almost self-replicates!" nonsense.

Strongly disagree on this.

In my early enthusiasm for the concept of self-replication, I was a
"100% closure" purist.  No more.

I went back to economic basics:  all costs are labor costs (anything
that doesn't look like labor is, in fact, just labor repackaged).  It
is precisely because of this that self-rep (or any transitional
intermediate) represents the next step, a quantum improvement in
industrial productivity through a radical reduction in labor costs per
widget.  But of course you know this.

The cost of any replicated SRMS module (one basic unit) =

[(the design cost (human labor)
+ programming cost (human labor)
+ materials (labor repackaged)
+ construction cost (human labor) for the first "seed"/module)]

 divided by the total number of modules..

As the number of modules increases -- to an arbitrarily large module
count -- and absent any additional human inputs (more labor) the unit
cost drops to an "almost" arbitrarily small amount.  The lower limit
determined by the minimum human labor costs -- the three cost factors
listed above -- for creating the first seed.

The situation is the same if you expand the cost envelope to include
the costs of human labor involved in start-up, shakedown, and

But this is an idealized condition -- an "upper bound", a theoretical
construct -- the purest, most extreme version of self-replication.
More than is necessary to tap into the productivity advantages that
self-rep offers.

So I reasonably and rationally gave up my "purist"("fundamentalist"?)
rigidity, and adopted a more relaxed view regarding parts closure and
post-implementation human inputs.  The bottom line -- the crossover to
competitive viability -- is not parts closure or autonomous function,
but whether the system beats conventional tech in productivity --
dollars per widget.  So the new cost basis for the reality-based (such
as it is) SRMS (vs the purist über-SRMS) includes additional
labor-based costs:

 ((per module vitamin cost) + (per module "operating/operator" costs
per unit time)) x module count = additional system cost per unit time

Of course, longer-term optimization efforts would seek to minimize
"operator" duties/costs.

My point is: you can say it's binary, define yourself into a corner,
and say "That's not a self-replicating system."  Fair enough.  And
correct.  But it just seals you out of exploiting the advantages of
"impure" first generation human-assisted self-rep.  Baby, bathwater.


> I don't know if we've ever had our pow-wow here on the list
> about whether or not partial self-replication is worth our time, or
> the different thinking going into that, so if anyone wants to raise up
> a few comments, that'd be neat.
> Anywho, time to quote Freitas.
> """
> Consider, for example, the problem of parts closure. Imagine that the
> entire factory and all of its machines are broken down into their
> component parts. If the original factory cannot fabricate every one of
> these items, then parts closure does not exist and the system is not
> fully self-replicating .


> a system
> which achieves complete "closure" is not "closed" or "isolated" in the
> classical sense. Materials, energy, and information still flow into
> the system which is thermodynamically "open"; these flows are of
> indigenous origin and may be managed autonomously by the SRS itself
> without need for direct human intervention.
> Closure theory. For replicating machine systems, complete closure is
> theoretically quite plausible; no fundamental or logical
> impossibilities have yet been identified.



>> As a race to the next stage of industrial production, it can easily
>> boil down to the first one out of the starting blocks.  Get enough of
>> a lead before the rest of the world figures out the implications, and
>> they'll never catch up.  And, regarding design choices, if you can
>> generate enough excitement in the global internet-connected "game
>> space",  you can promote competition among teams whose members have
>> chosen different design approaches.

> I am not against competition,
> but I would express caution when
> comparing different design decisions,

Re this competitive element, my scheme for implementation is
proprietary ("It's mine, all mine!  Bwahaha!")  Can't discuss it in an
open forum.

> because some decisions are made
> for totally different reasons, like in the case of reprap- it's not
> really about replication, for instance- and comparing it to somebody
> who is designing an artificial synthetic organic lifeform chemistry
> out of, say, silicon. So while I'm not going to get worked up about
> the existence of alternative designs, I'm going to very clearly make a
> big stink when you're not actually working on self-replication, or
> when you make erroneous claims about the capabilities of your machine
> :-). A friendly big stink, of course, but still, a stink.

Fair enough.  And I'm committed to friendliness as well, and vigorous
discussion.  We share a common goal, seeking the same tech benefits,
just along different paths and with different definitions.

> I don't know if you're referring to the SKDB design methodology  for self-replication

I'm not familiar with this, will read up on it.

> when you say evaluating a solution space for a 'best'
> design. There's a difference between evaluating the possibility space
> for *actual* designs versus selecting from those actual designs and
> finding the best among them. I agree that finding the 'best' among
> them at this point is a non-starter-- but at this point, we don't even
> have preliminary designs for self-replicating systems, just a lot of
> hand-waving.
> - Bryan
> http://heybryan.org/
> 1 512 203 0507

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