[extropy-chat] an(other) Aussie visits Texas

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at ceruleansystems.com
Mon Jan 29 18:52:26 UTC 2007

On Jan 29, 2007, at 6:57 AM, Ben Goertzel wrote:
> Please note that Star Wars was also, in the 1980's, the popular name
> for a proposed US missile defense system proposed by President
> Reagan, Edward Teller, and others.
> It involved using long-range lasers to shoot down missiles and
> planes, I believe.  It was hyped a lot but ultimately was rejected
> due to technological obstacles.

It was a lot more than lasers, but ultimately rejected?  Not really,  
and certainly not due to technological obstacles.  In terms of  
science and technological R&D it was an extremely successful military  
program.  Even though the technology has been deployed incrementally  
and slowly (just about every new weapon system borrows heavily from  
"Star Wars" technologies), we are also talking about the development  
of high-energy physics and engineering in domains that had not even  
been seriously considered before.  Those things take time, you can't  
just pull them out of a hat.

At this point, almost all of the original "technological obstacles"  
have solutions that are doing well in field trials or have been  
deployed.  Lasers of all scales? Check.  Hyperkinetic rockets?   
Check.  Kinetic intercept?  Check.  Electromagnetic guns?  Check.   
None of it was impossible, it just required the development of very  
advanced materials science that did not yet exist when the project  
was started.

In fact, the only Star Wars technologies that I can think of that did  
not produce viable capability was some of the more exotic particle  
beam weapons and similar.  All the rest are in late-stage field  
trials, are currently transitioning to production, or are already in  
production.  What did change was the geopolitical situation over the  
last quarter century, so the deployment patterns for the technology  
are not what they originally envisioned.  Most of these technologies  
are actually seeing first deployment in tactical weapons since those  
will have more immediate use than thousands of strategic missile  
killers.  Rather than mounting hyperkinetic missiles on satellites,  
they are mounting them on Hummers.  Which makes sense.


J. Andrew Rogers

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