[ExI] Von Neumann probes for what?

Samantha Atkins sjatkins at mac.com
Fri Dec 31 22:47:58 UTC 2010

Eugen and others,

What exactly do we expect these probes to do when they reach a workable planetary system?  A certain portion of the local resources would be converted into more probes and sending those out.   What the rest do is an interesting question.

Presumably they are capable of producing a matrix (computronium or something less exotic) out of local resources and instilling it with some part of the knowledge, abilities of the originating civilization.   If they are so capable then it does not seem possible that each probe is or evolves to be relatively unintelligent regarding the decision as to whether some particular system can or or should be processed.   After all it could unfold enough computational capacity to consider the question more deeply before proceeding with the main phase.  If the consideration led to a negative answer then it would use at most enough resources to send a minimal set of other probes out and clean up after itself.  

If the probe only converted local resources into more probes and no probes set up an outpost of the originators then what interest of the originators would be served by the program?    If the probes could evolve to ditch all parts of their program except replication that would be a failure.   If the created outposts could change so much as to be incompatible and even a serious threat for the rest of the civilization that would be something to consider before embarking on such a program.   

I can see value in such as a way to ensure that all things at all  like the originating civ don't get wiped out by a supernova or some other relatively localized catastrophe.  Or perhaps creating a buffer zone.  

Am I missing something?

- samantha

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list