[ExI] Meat v. Machine

spike spike66 at att.net
Fri Dec 31 16:10:48 UTC 2010

>... On Behalf Of Samantha Atkins
>>> Current access to space is good enough, if your payload has a lot of
>>> The longer you wait, the more magic it gets....--Eugen* Leitl
>> As a spacecraft controls guy I am reluctant to admit it, but this 
>> comment is really right on, the conclusion I eventually reached with 
>> much kicking and screaming over 20 yrs ago...

>...Well now we don't have the heavy lifters we had before...

Ja, tragic is this.

>... Are you sure you believe that the current huge cost to orbit is good

It isn't good enough for lifting power stations and doing a lot of the cool
stuff we would like to do.  My argument is that we are missing the essential
technology to make stuff from existing materials in space, and that is now
the low hanging fruit, as opposed to still more research into launchers.  We
need to be able to move software into space as opposed to hardware.

Until we get replicating assemblers, I can see using lunar materials to make
most space stuff, since it is so much easier to get out of that gravity
well.  Using asteroid material further reduces the gravity well problem, but
it takes a lot of patience, and only applies to the kinds of stuff we can
wait years to get it back down to 1 AU after its manufacture is complete.

>...  I have rarely been so utterly amazed and had as much trouble believing
a statement as that one.  Hell, we still don't have much better than 80%
success putting payloads into orbit.  Why in the hell is this good enough? 

Just as a working liquid rocket was the missing technology in 1910, some
kind of autonomous assembler is the missing space tech in 2010.  Without
that, we are just thrashing about, trying to maintain what we have.
>Again, we are three decades from machine phase.  Are you sure we have that
much time?  - samantha

Not sure at all we have that much time, nor am I sure we will have working
replicators in 30 years.  We have some huge problems here, and they aren't
all (or even mostly) related to environmental degradation.  I see a much
bigger threat from rapidly increasing populations of what SF writers would
call feral humans opposed to technology, while the population in advanced
civilization remains constant or declines, while struggling to defend the
progress already made.

But I have hope, and think we should keep our focus, keep working.


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