Submitted by EmptyKube on Fri, 06/11/2004 - 2:17am

Camidon says in his email:

3) So far in this world: A) No FTL travel. B) Nanotech. Yes, but must
confrom to present extrapolations of science. No mini-machines that can do anything and everything. C) The jury is still out about AI, more discussion to come.


[quote]Lastly, Below is a list of Technology related questions to think about for
the next chat.

Technology: (** = Decision reached)
1) *FTL?*
2) AI's? If yes, how do we keep them from becoming too powerful?
3) Power systems? (see Dave's black hole idea).
4) Genetic engineering? How much can human's accelerate evolution on a
5) Artificial gravity? Is it allowed? Physics of this? Do we need
6) *Nanotech?*
7) Raw materials for mission? Where do they get them? Mined in space, or
unlimited power?
8) Intelligent animals? If Human's are affecting their own evolution, why
not other animals?
9) How do they insure advancing technology doesn't pass them by? Is this
just a risk? Is this risk just to big?
10) Current medicine? Doctor Tech?


Thoughts on nanotech first:
"yes but must confirm to present extrapolation of the science. no minimachines that can do anything."
Since I couldn't make it to the chat, I'm not sure how the discussion went.
My understanding of the present technology is that no body knows exactly what to define as nanotech. :wink:
I assume that what you mean is that nanotech can't be a type of magic.
That works for me, but I do feel the need to point several things out.
1) technology levels will not remain flat onboard the ship, or at home on earth. If a form of nanotech is used onboard, unless all technological innovation stops, minimachines that can do anything [i]will[/i]
become possible. That's the promise of full fledged nanotech. Despite current scientific conservative estimates of its future (and scientists have to be conservative) being able to manipulate individual molecules will eventually lead to magic like abilities to create and reassemble almost anything. My thought is, that if there is a form of nanotech being used by the society at large when the ship launches, we need to ensure that sensible uses of it are incorporated into the ship, but no experts in the field are included. the technology should be something the crew takes for granted but doesn't understand. As an aside, nanotech can make a great tool for controlling an evolutionary direction. What better way to manipulate genetic material? Genetic engineering without some use of nanotech in the next 100 years will likely be obsolete. IMHO

2) Artificial gravity should be a no. Same reason as FTL. Easy way out, and does not allow for adaptation. If the crew has access to Earth standard gravity all the time, where is the biological need for adaptation? Of course with AG you could change the gravity to match the new world. Six of one half dozen of another. I think spinning the main living areas and having sections that are gravity free except during accelerations would make for some interesting developments. I envision some folks choosing to live in the gravity free zones and adapting in ways that would make them unwilling to "land" at destination. Could lead to a kind of civil war, et.

3) Raw materials. As I've said, I'm partial to the idea of using asteroids.
I think it makes the best sense and evokes the image of early humanity living in caves.

4) are intelligent animals necessary or is that just a need to be inclusive? I think that unless they feed the plot, what purpose do they serve? This question to me is a variation on the AI question. Intelligent animals would be creations of humans that would be A) either more intelligent then us, and leading to the same situation as AI's B) equal in intelligence and possibly leading to prejudiced attitudes. While this is always great fodder for fiction as a topic, I think humanity's own foibles offer just as much room for exploration of prejudice. C) inferior to humans and exist merely as slave labor or for human entertainment. Again, while this can lead to interesting fiction, human personalties the way they are, I'm sure slavery can be discussed in a purely human context.
This is not to say that I don't think animals should be brought along, but the topic of animals brings up one of the real cracks in the idea that we need to address. That is the knowledge of where the ship is going. I know I harp on this, but it bothers me and always has. My original comments for CM's story included a long discussion of this. What animals do you bring along depends on where you are going. Do you engineer new creatures to fit the new world? What sort of species already exist and will you be adding deadly invasive species to a fragile ecosystem? what good is it to adapt to a world only to have your choice of animals (and plants) ruin the environment? Putting aside the question of how you know what to make your descendants, how do you learn enough about the planet to decide what needs to be added? Bringing species from Earth only makes sense in the content of trying to terraform the planet, not create new inhabitants. The crew will need food and stores won't last for the length of the trip as envisioned, so bringing animals and plants will be important, but do we make them intelligent? Only if it makes a good plot line....IMHO

5) They can't ensure technology at home won't pass them by. It likely will.
This is another aspect of this concept that is exciting because if the ship people evolve to a different variant of humans, and the stay at homes maintain some semblance to what would be considered truly human, and the two faction catch up with each other will either consider the other human? Will war ensue? This is an element to the idea I've thought about for a long time, prior to this project. CM when I mentioned I had an idea for a Generation Ship idea that I'd never had the reason to write, this conflict between technology passing the ship by and who is human who isn't is at the germ of that idea. I even have a title: Generations Apart.
Or something similar. This is an area that I will likely work on as my contribution, although anyone else is also welcome to take up the idea
as well.

6) Medicine. Well ... this will have to be fluid, won't it? I mean if the only type of health system available is based on traditional humans then eventually you'll have a whole lot of later folks without any way of treating themselves. The medical system would need to be highly adaptable, contain large data sources, be able to react to any sudden negative trends in evolution (miscarriages, deformities, et.) The medical system would likely work closely as part of the "guided" evolution. Just playing Devil's Advocate here, but it seems to me, given the requirements, and the need for someway to retain a basic idea of where the development should go, and of being able to adapt to trends in biology, and in being able to remain a constant secure source for health care throughout the long trip, the Medical System should be under the auspices of an AI :D

7) last but not least, power....
Fusion should be part of it. So should antimatter. Dave's black hole idea is great, but unless we can come up with a scientifically sound way of getting one, I don't see where they would come from. This is like the reason for not having magical nanotech. The miniblack hole power source would be convenient but modern scientific extrapolation doesn't bode well for either creating them, or finding them lying around the solar system.
Unless we introduce a whole new technology which makes them viable.
Of course the new technology could also be a reason for the trip to be planned. Once a technology for creating mini black holes cheaply were developed and the confinement requirements were easily achieved why not go to the stars?
The reason I mention fusion and antimatter is because modern research makes the use of both much more viable. Fusion as always is an "any day now" technology. And as for antimatter, places like CERN have begun to be able to collect large quantities of the stuff and are developing ways to store it. Of course by large quantities I mean milligrams or less...still the pure extrapolation makes the use of antimatter more likely then mini black holes.

Okay...there's my two sense worth.
Have fun.

Have fun.