[ExI] von Neuman machines

spike spike66 at att.net
Fri Aug 26 14:34:46 UTC 2016

>... On Behalf Of Keith

> Alternately, do any of you have insight into solving the problems?  I
> am particularly interested in proposals to take an asteroid, say a
> carbonaceous chondrite and make it into useful materials to feed to
> the replicator.  Best wishes, Keith

>... On Behalf Of Anders Sandberg
Subject: Re: [ExI] von Neuman machines

>...I haven't seen that much new since Freitas & Merkle's magisterial

Where is Robert Freitas these days?  That man is awesome!  (...he said in a
totally academic heterosexual sense.)

>...I am mildly interested in the problem, but may have trouble getting
research time for it (priorities, priorities...)

We get that Anders.  Eeeeeeverybody wants your attention.  Good problem to
have.  Beats hell outta the alternative.

I gave an engineering pitch in 2011 to a group of engineers and gave them a
though puzzle: think of any device, object, entity, any noun, capable of
making a copy of itself.  I intentionally left the term copy vague and
under-defined, and had them estimate the mass of their idea.  I offered that
I would accept any answer within six orders of magnitude of the ones I would
present, if they also allow me a similarly broad definition of the term

I then offered suggestions spanning 30 orders of magnitude in mass, assuming
a broad definition of the terms copy and create.  I offer you the same game.

For instance, imagine the planet's industrial base, all the tools, the
foundries, forges, lathes, drills, milling machines, castings, the yakkity
yaks and bla blas, every machine that is used to make stuff today.  Now
imagine the industrial base about perhaps a couple decades ago when it was
half the size it is now, which stands to reason, since the planet had half
the current population.  You could in a sense, think of that industrial base
having created a copy of itself (having human assistance is fine, since we
humans make "copies" of ourselves sorta, with mammalian assistance (the ones
we slay and devour for instance (in order to use the materials found in the
slain mammal to make up the copy.)))  

Right there you have two examples spanning 17 orders of magnitude (about 50
kg for a pleasantly slender human copy machine vs 1E19 kg for the industrial
base which makes her life so pleasant.)

I will accept notions of all-plastic 3D printers and such, but how do you
suppose I got the 30-some orders of magnitude?  It was such a fun clever
idea, it is hard to stay humble.


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