minimum viable colony populations

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Matthew DeBell

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Dec 7, 2000, 3:00:00 AM12/7/00
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Stories of isolated small groups who have to survive on their own are pretty
common in science fiction, and they can be good stories. The Mars mission
thread from a few weeks ago had me thinking about the minimum viable
populations for colonies. What factors determine the minimum viable
population?

The main factors seem to be environmental conditions, available technology,
colonist characteristics (skills, culture, health) and the criteria we
establish for colony success.

I'm assuming conservative hard SF technology, earthlike environments, and
colonists with an average skill level inversely proportional to colony size
(i.e. a group of 5 is all healthy experts, a group of 5 million has the
inevitable distribution of human qualities). With these assumptions, the
minimum viable population depends mostly on the criteria for a successful
colony.

Suppose success just means the original colonists stay alive for the
remainder of a normal lifespan. In an earthlike environment, with advanced
technology, one person should be able stay alive.

What about seeding a colony that survives indefinitely? If the colony is to
survive for generations then there is a minimum size for the starting gene
pool. Much reproduction among close relatives is bad. I've read that
400-500 is a minimum population. This seems high to me, but I don't know
squat about it. Anyone care to comment?

Suppose the goal is to maintain a society with a norm of not more than a 40
hour work week and not more than 50% of the population in the labor force:
This requires pretty good agricultural productivity, but with an advanced
farming set-up agriculture doesn't have to be labor-intensive. Yet
low-labor agriculture requires automation, and the infrastructure required
be able to manufacture automated farm equipment is not small. If the
colonists arrive with good equipment then the first generation might manage
this requirement with hardly any population at all. But after the equipment
needs replacement, I suspect the population requirement gets pretty large.
Maybe on the order of 10,000? Suggestions?

Maintain a society that can design and manufacture a spacecraft from raw
materials in a few years: This requires advanced industrial infrastructure.
Would a million people be enough?

Maintain a society with substantially all of opportunities and creature
comforts we have in contemporary industrial democracies: I'm assuming
higher tech than we have, so productivity is higher, so the same goods can
be had with fewer people working to produce them. Still, the population
requirements will be fairly high. If we want 1000 hours of new TV
programming every week, there have to be tens of thousands of people working
just in the television industry. I'll take a guess that millions are
necessary to approximate a contemporary lifestyle over the long term.

These are just guesses; anyone care to offer alternatives? Good answers
would seem to require more knowledge of both technology and economics than I
have.

--
Matthew DeBell

Brandon Van Every

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Dec 7, 2000, 3:00:00 AM12/7/00
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"Matthew DeBell" <m...@attglobal.net> wrote in message
news:3a2f4...@news1.prserv.net...

> What factors determine the minimum viable population?

Zero, if you have a human DNA bank and an AI called "Mama" that's smart
enough to raise no dummies.

> The main factors seem to be environmental conditions, available
technology,
> colonist characteristics (skills, culture, health) and the criteria we
> establish for colony success.

Indeed, how much control over human DNA are you going to posit? Inbreeding
isn't a problem if you can edit. And if you have that level of DNA editing
technology, then you can clone everyone from 1 person.

> I'm assuming conservative hard SF technology, earthlike environments,

So, I'd advise that you have to fix your DNA engineering level before you
can decide anything else.

> and
> colonists with an average skill level inversely proportional to colony
size
> (i.e. a group of 5 is all healthy experts, a group of 5 million has the
> inevitable distribution of human qualities).

Why? The number of slouches and malcontents is going to depend on the
energy/wealth provided to your colony. If they're scrounging for resources
then you're going to have criminals. If they're not, well you could still
have violence in paradise as Lord Of The Flies illustrates. But if you have
lotsa energy/wealth coupled with strong education and a good moral system
then you're going to have very few people falling off the bell curve.
You'll have a society of elites. There's no class struggle when everyone is
ridiculously wealthy and all property is owned in common.

So, the second thing you need to fix are the resources/energy/wealth
available to the colony.

> Suppose success just means the original colonists stay alive for the
> remainder of a normal lifespan.

But indeed, what's a "normal" lifespan? Back to DNA control again. What if
humans have achieved clinical immortality?

> Suppose the goal is to maintain a society with a norm of not more than a
40
> hour work week and not more than 50% of the population in the labor force:

Again, how many resources/energy/wealth at what technology level? By cosmic
standards you're saying these people are dirt poor, i.e. year 2000 energy
production. To get to Proxima Centauri 4 light years away it's going to
take a lot more energy than that! Much more if you go farther afield. But
if you want to colonize Mars, no problemo.

> This requires pretty good agricultural productivity, but with an advanced
> farming set-up agriculture doesn't have to be labor-intensive.

Agriculture isn't labor-intensive today. Machines can do all the things
that really need to get done. The USA uses underpaid, underpriveledged
Mexicans in copious volumes because it can. If it couldn't it wouldn't.

> Yet
> low-labor agriculture requires automation, and the infrastructure required
> be able to manufacture automated farm equipment is not small.

Again, just how far are you going to travel? I'm sending 10,000 colonists
on a 20 year journey to Proxima in a ship the size of a small town. To make
that kind of journey, humanity has already solved the wealth/energy problem.

> If the
> colonists arrive with good equipment then the first generation might
manage
> this requirement with hardly any population at all. But after the
equipment
> needs replacement, I suspect the population requirement gets pretty large.
> Maybe on the order of 10,000? Suggestions?

How much digital sentience are you going to assume? I'm assuming we see our
first hard AIs in 2050.

> Maintain a society that can design and manufacture a spacecraft from raw
> materials in a few years: This requires advanced industrial
infrastructure.
> Would a million people be enough?

You could do it with 0 people if the robots really cared about their work.
Problem is, if they're smart enough to do that kind of work, will they stop
caring and stop obeying? Heck, that's true of the colonists too. Who says
they want to build spaceships? These schisms of "why did *I* waste 20 years
of my life to come here?" are the basis for the game I want to make.

> Maintain a society with substantially all of opportunities and creature
> comforts we have in contemporary industrial democracies: I'm assuming
> higher tech than we have, so productivity is higher, so the same goods can
> be had with fewer people working to produce them. Still, the population
> requirements will be fairly high. If we want 1000 hours of new TV
> programming every week, there have to be tens of thousands of people
working
> just in the television industry.

Using our current technology, which is labor intensive bullshit. I figure
it stays that way because nobody wants to fund the R&D to do something
better, and the media moguls have an empire that works for them. I'm an
independent software developer, I intend to do better within the next 10
years.

> I'll take a guess that millions are
> necessary to approximate a contemporary lifestyle over the long term.
>
> These are just guesses; anyone care to offer alternatives? Good answers
> would seem to require more knowledge of both technology and economics than
I
> have.

There are dozens of alternatives. I think the first step is to drop the
Cold War mentality that everything is about belching out metric tons of
steel for the military industrial complex. I believe the critical human
advances are going to be in biogenetics, artificial intelligence, and
nanotechnology, as a matter of science fact within our lifetimes. Getting
to the stars requires a huuuuuuuge leap in energy production on top of that.
So, take your pick: colonize Mars and you can have something more gritty, if
you really want to. Colonize space and you have to assume the luxury liner
IMHO.


--
Cheers, www.3DProgrammer.com
Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA

J

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Dec 7, 2000, 3:00:00 AM12/7/00
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below...

"Matthew DeBell" <m...@attglobal.net> wrote in message
news:3a2f4...@news1.prserv.net...

> Stories of isolated small groups who have to survive on their own are
pretty
> common in science fiction, and they can be good stories. The Mars mission
> thread from a few weeks ago had me thinking about the minimum viable

> populations for colonies. What factors determine the minimum viable
> population?

Everything determines the population. If it is a scientific colony, the
population can be very low and still work. If the population is supposed to
be a foot hold on a new world you need a few dozen people to help with the
work. If it's a colony of seperatists it doesn't matter how many or how few
there are. It completely depends on what type of colony it is.

Anyway, what am doing is looking back in history, with my story I plan on
adapting the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 to suit the politcal terms of a
colony, which doesn't say much because there will still be "colonies" that
won't meet the terms of this "Galactic Ordinance".

Later, J

--
_____________________
http://webj.cjb.net
m...@webj.cjb.net

C.Stuart-Bennett

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Dec 7, 2000, 11:56:37 AM12/7/00
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"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@3DProgrammer.com> wrote in message
news:ZCIX5.44375$II2.4...@newsread2.prod.itd.earthlink.net...

>
> "Matthew DeBell" <m...@attglobal.net> wrote in message
> news:3a2f4...@news1.prserv.net...
> > What factors determine the minimum viable population?

<Snip>
<incidentally this particular snip isnt supposed to imply any disagreement
with the snippsed subject matter, just that it was getting kinda long, and
this here is a short reply....>

Well the best way to overcome the whole ' post-industrialised, hi tech
society, high standard of living and this isnt really a colony its just a
quick holiday for us dilettante scientists away from our utopian home'
problem whilst using a minimum of colonists per colony would be the
judicious application of nanotech ( which from what ive read on sci.nanotech
recently is closer to becoming reality than the whole planetary colonisation
thing anyways) so the colonists could happily sit in their orbital colony
ship, bombard the planet with nanites, then a few months later go and settle
in their pleasant new eden and screw like bunny rabbits for the rest of
their natural lives to build up the poulation, whilst molecular assemblers
take care of their every need, possibly whith some form of servitor
construct ( see big robot ala Lost in Space, or servitor chimps ala
Nightsdawn trilogy scifi ) for simpler tasks ( again easily built by your
all purpose reprogrammable assembler nanites...)
quick easy, eliminates need for large 'working class' colonist population
and satisfies every reason why i like sci fi.

see new planets, fight exotic creatures, rescue fair maidens (alien or
otherwise) then subvert the whole damn thing to your personal vision of
perfection and make it back to base in time for a banana daquiri...

Chris
NB. whilst the second part of this is a little flippant, the first part is
not. see Frank Tipplers 'The Physics of Immortality' for an interesting view
on nanotech driven colonisation of other planets...


Ray Drouillard

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Dec 8, 2000, 3:00:00 AM12/8/00
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"Matthew DeBell" <m...@attglobal.net> wrote in message
news:3a2f4...@news1.prserv.net...
> Stories of isolated small groups who have to survive on their own are
pretty
> common in science fiction, and they can be good stories. The Mars mission
> thread from a few weeks ago had me thinking about the minimum viable
> populations for colonies. What factors determine the minimum viable
> population?

Hmmmm... How big was the group of mutineers from the HMS Bounty? I
understand that they settled on an island, and that their descendants are
still around.


> What about seeding a colony that survives indefinitely? If the colony is
to
> survive for generations then there is a minimum size for the starting gene
> pool. Much reproduction among close relatives is bad. I've read that
> 400-500 is a minimum population. This seems high to me, but I don't know
> squat about it. Anyone care to comment?

Is genetic engineering available? If so, each person can have his/her
defective genes replaced before moving. If this technology can be supported
on the colony, a database full of genetic material can be used to inject
diversity into the gene pool as the population grows.

>
> Suppose the goal is to maintain a society with a norm of not more than a
40
> hour work week and not more than 50% of the population in the labor force:

> This requires pretty good agricultural productivity, but with an advanced

> farming set-up agriculture doesn't have to be labor-intensive. Yet


> low-labor agriculture requires automation, and the infrastructure required

> be able to manufacture automated farm equipment is not small. If the


> colonists arrive with good equipment then the first generation might
manage
> this requirement with hardly any population at all. But after the
equipment
> needs replacement, I suspect the population requirement gets pretty large.
> Maybe on the order of 10,000? Suggestions?

Again, technology is a big factor. With good automation, everything from
mining and farming to final manufacturing can be done by the machines.
Based on that, it would merely take the machinery and a whole bunch of
software (imported from the originating planet) to keep everything going -
no people necessary at all.


>
> Maintain a society that can design and manufacture a spacecraft from raw
> materials in a few years: This requires advanced industrial
infrastructure.
> Would a million people be enough?

Same as above :-)

Obviously, the economy would be based on people owning the means for
production. If someone is stupid enough to sell off his share of the
machinery, he will have a really difficult time making the cash necessary to
buy it back.

OTOH, we may very well invent lots of services that specifically need to be
done by a human by then. Aside from the obvious "oldest profession" type
services, I suspect that there will be a lot of people making extra cash by
singing, dancing, acting, and other such things. Perhaps clever
conversation will become an art form and a profession. Also, we will need
people to design new types of widgets and art forms for the machines to turn
out.

Any service is going to be priced by the laws of supply and demand. If you
can already have every form of material good that you want for no effort,
someone is going to have to pay you a whole lot to get up and do something
for them.

Imagine how absurd the idea of a fashion designer or beautician would be a
few thousand years ago.

Also, I suspect that gambling will be a popular activity - perhaps more so
than today.


>
> Maintain a society with substantially all of opportunities and creature
> comforts we have in contemporary industrial democracies: I'm assuming
> higher tech than we have, so productivity is higher, so the same goods can
> be had with fewer people working to produce them. Still, the population
> requirements will be fairly high. If we want 1000 hours of new TV
> programming every week, there have to be tens of thousands of people
working

> just in the television industry. I'll take a guess that millions are


> necessary to approximate a contemporary lifestyle over the long term.
>
> These are just guesses; anyone care to offer alternatives? Good answers
> would seem to require more knowledge of both technology and economics than
I
> have.
>

> --
> Matthew DeBell
>

Ray Drouillard


Oliver Neukum

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Dec 8, 2000, 5:56:44 PM12/8/00
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> The main factors seem to be environmental conditions, available technology,
> colonist characteristics (skills, culture, health) and the criteria we
> establish for colony success.

And the amount of equipment carried by the ship.

> I'm assuming conservative hard SF technology, earthlike environments, and


> colonists with an average skill level inversely proportional to colony size
> (i.e. a group of 5 is all healthy experts, a group of 5 million has the

> inevitable distribution of human qualities). With these assumptions, the
> minimum viable population depends mostly on the criteria for a successful
> colony.

How earthlike ? Is native life edible ?
Even if it is malnutrition is certain. Native life will lack terran
vitamines.



> Suppose success just means the original colonists stay alive for the

> remainder of a normal lifespan. In an earthlike environment, with advanced
> technology, one person should be able stay alive.

Unless he becomes insane, which is possible.
A small group could exist until supplies run out or equipment fails.
I wouldn't call that a colony.

> What about seeding a colony that survives indefinitely? If the colony is to
> survive for generations then there is a minimum size for the starting gene
> pool. Much reproduction among close relatives is bad. I've read that
> 400-500 is a minimum population. This seems high to me, but I don't know
> squat about it. Anyone care to comment?

The gene pool is the least of your worries. You could carry frozen sperm,
ova or embryos in your ship.

> Suppose the goal is to maintain a society with a norm of not more than a 40
> hour work week and not more than 50% of the population in the labor force:
> This requires pretty good agricultural productivity, but with an advanced
> farming set-up agriculture doesn't have to be labor-intensive. Yet

On an alien world it requires you to keep pretty advanced technology,
at least until terraforming is complete, if it could be completed to that
degree at all.

> low-labor agriculture requires automation, and the infrastructure required
> be able to manufacture automated farm equipment is not small. If the
> colonists arrive with good equipment then the first generation might manage
> this requirement with hardly any population at all. But after the equipment
> needs replacement, I suspect the population requirement gets pretty large.
> Maybe on the order of 10,000? Suggestions?

Too low. Much too low in fact. On the order of millions is necessary in
the long term.

> Maintain a society that can design and manufacture a spacecraft from raw
> materials in a few years: This requires advanced industrial infrastructure.
> Would a million people be enough?

No. You are of the mark at least by an order of magnitude, unless building
space ships becomes much easier.

> Maintain a society with substantially all of opportunities and creature
> comforts we have in contemporary industrial democracies: I'm assuming
> higher tech than we have, so productivity is higher, so the same goods can
> be had with fewer people working to produce them. Still, the population
> requirements will be fairly high. If we want 1000 hours of new TV
> programming every week, there have to be tens of thousands of people working
> just in the television industry. I'll take a guess that millions are
> necessary to approximate a contemporary lifestyle over the long term.

My private lowest estimate is 20M, more likely 50M+

> These are just guesses; anyone care to offer alternatives? Good answers
> would seem to require more knowledge of both technology and economics than I
> have.

A modern economy needs an enormous amount of specialised devices.
Even today no European country is able to produce useful products in all
fields of economy. Many industrial processes scale badly. If you look up
how many top notch chip factories there are today, you can count the
nummer with fingers and toes. Being on an alien world makes it even
harder.

Regards
Oliver


Brandon Van Every

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Dec 8, 2000, 6:29:39 PM12/8/00
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"Oliver Neukum" <neu...@fachschaft.cup.uni-muenchen.de> wrote in message

>
> How earthlike ? Is native life edible ?

Someone else has posted recently that native life is never edible.

> The gene pool is the least of your worries. You could carry frozen
sperm,
> ova or embryos in your ship.

Heh! How deliciously low tech.

> A modern economy needs an enormous amount of specialised devices.
> Even today no European country is able to produce useful products in
all
> fields of economy.

But the EU as a whole can. As can the USA. So if you've got 250
million people and trading partners....

> Many industrial processes scale badly. If you look up
> how many top notch chip factories there are today, you can count the
> nummer with fingers and toes. Being on an alien world makes it even
> harder.

What happens when you send in the AI robots? "Workforce" doesn't have
to be measured in humans.

uray

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Dec 8, 2000, 8:52:53 PM12/8/00
to
Within

"Matthew DeBell" <m...@attglobal.net> wrote in message
news:3a2f4...@news1.prserv.net...
> Stories of isolated small groups who have to survive on their own are
pretty
> common in science fiction, and they can be good stories. The Mars mission
> thread from a few weeks ago had me thinking about the minimum viable
> populations for colonies. What factors determine the minimum viable
> population?
>

Luck?

> The main factors seem to be environmental conditions, available
technology,
> colonist characteristics (skills, culture, health) and the criteria we
> establish for colony success.
>

The number of "skills" in our society is quite large. Do you mind having
your hair cut by the cook? How about having your entertainment provided by
your neighbor kid trying to play the cello from a "how-to book". Is a GP
sufficient or do you want experienced surgeons, cardiac specialists and
such? Care to clean up after yourself, or would you rather have a janitor
do it? Need a seamstress? One SF story I read indicated a minimum of about
50,000 just to get a good skill balance. Not sure which book it was though
:(


> I'm assuming conservative hard SF technology, earthlike environments, and
> colonists with an average skill level inversely proportional to colony
size
> (i.e. a group of 5 is all healthy experts, a group of 5 million has the
> inevitable distribution of human qualities). With these assumptions, the
> minimum viable population depends mostly on the criteria for a successful
> colony.
>

Exactly....

> Suppose success just means the original colonists stay alive for the
> remainder of a normal lifespan. In an earthlike environment, with
advanced
> technology, one person should be able stay alive.
>

Sure, if everybody else in the world drops dead tomorrow I suspect I could
live out a pretty good but lonely life.

> What about seeding a colony that survives indefinitely? If the colony is
to
> survive for generations then there is a minimum size for the starting gene
> pool. Much reproduction among close relatives is bad. I've read that
> 400-500 is a minimum population. This seems high to me, but I don't know
> squat about it. Anyone care to comment?
>

As another poster pointed out... frozen embryo's, genetic manipulation, etc.
James P. Hogan did it with zero colonists in his story _Voyage from
Yesteryear_.

> Suppose the goal is to maintain a society with a norm of not more than a
40
> hour work week and not more than 50% of the population in the labor force:
> This requires pretty good agricultural productivity, but with an advanced

> farming set-up agriculture doesn't have to be labor-intensive. Yet


> low-labor agriculture requires automation, and the infrastructure required
> be able to manufacture automated farm equipment is not small. If the
> colonists arrive with good equipment then the first generation might
manage
> this requirement with hardly any population at all. But after the
equipment
> needs replacement, I suspect the population requirement gets pretty large.
> Maybe on the order of 10,000? Suggestions?
>

I lean towards the 50,000 figure that unremembered author used. I prefer a
real barber.

> Maintain a society that can design and manufacture a spacecraft from raw
> materials in a few years: This requires advanced industrial
infrastructure.
> Would a million people be enough?
>

Sure if they were committed to it. They cut their own hair though.

> Maintain a society with substantially all of opportunities and creature
> comforts we have in contemporary industrial democracies: I'm assuming
> higher tech than we have, so productivity is higher, so the same goods can
> be had with fewer people working to produce them. Still, the population
> requirements will be fairly high. If we want 1000 hours of new TV
> programming every week, there have to be tens of thousands of people
working
> just in the television industry. I'll take a guess that millions are
> necessary to approximate a contemporary lifestyle over the long term.
>

Pre-planning is important. Our society is overburdened by specialization and
our economic systems. Problem with our competitive market driven system is
it encourages diversity. Know how many specific make/model TV sets exist in
the world? Guess how many models of proximity switches? Seems I always need
the part that's only made in some town in Italy, and they took the month off
:(

> These are just guesses; anyone care to offer alternatives? Good answers
> would seem to require more knowledge of both technology and economics than
I
> have.
>

> --
> Matthew DeBell
>
>

It's a big "it depends"

uray


Ray Drouillard

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Dec 8, 2000, 10:25:57 PM12/8/00
to
> > Imagine how absurd the idea of a fashion designer or beautician would be
a
> > few thousand years ago.
>
> What are you talking about? If you believe this then you do not know
> history. The Romans were very vain. Pompeii had brothels, perfumeries,
> clothiers, even streets with glowing lights down the middle. They just
used
> naturally luminescent rocks for the job.

I had actually considered that :-)

Think back more thousands of years - back to sustenance hunting/gathering.

Hmmm... come to think of it, even the most primitive of societies seemed to
be fond of painting their bodies, piercing themselves, and the like.

OK... I guess I'll have to think of another example. Accountant? Lawyer?


Ray


Julie Pascal

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Dec 8, 2000, 11:50:16 PM12/8/00
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"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@3DProgrammer.com> wrote in message
news:xD1Y5.48448$II2.4...@newsread2.prod.itd.earthlink.net...

>
> "Matthew DeBell" <m...@attglobal.net> wrote in message
> news:3a307...@news1.prserv.net...
> >
> > Well, I'm not assuming a communist utopia. A small close-knit group may
> > prefer to own all property in common, but I don't assume this will work
> > generally. Also, as you note, the number of "slouches and malcontents"
> > depends on a lot more than the energy and wealth available to the
colony.

In some cases the slouches and malcontents pose more of a problem
than in other cases. The range of human personalities will exist.
Without the ability to carry dead weight there will have to be some
method of dealing with those people who refuse to carry their own
weight.

> > Above some threshold, energy and wealth probably have less to do with it
> > than social organization and culture; there will be crime, mental
illness,
> > civic indifference, and so forth, because these blights are the
seemingly
> > inevitable results of complex society (and its attendant bureaucracy,
> > inequality, violence, anomic tendencies, etc.).
>
> On what basis do you make this leap of logic? I agree with you about it
> being culturally dependent. I do not agree with you about the "seemingly
> inevitable results." For instance, I seriously doubt that 1 million Amish
> in space would have anywhere near the range of laziness and indifference
as
> you see in the average USA populace. They'd have a range *within their
> society* but that range might appear negligible to an outside observer.
You
> have to consider the rigidity of the social indoctrination, the equity of
> resources that the indoctrination makes available to its citizens, and the
> overall level of wealth. I find it equally hard to imagine a Spartan
> military society having tons of slouches. You don't work, you're thrown
> into the wilderness to fend for yourself.

This is no support or proof that "above some threshold" that this list
of social ills are "seemingly inevitable."

How different cultures deal with those inevitabilities is hardly
an indication that they don't exist.

> > So far we know of no way
> > for complex society to exist without bureaucracy, inequality, violence,
> > etc.,
>
> Societies exist as a matter of self-perpetuation. You can't expect our
> current societies, which have all the negative qualities you mention, to
be
> uprooted in any way and become something other than what they are. Ergo,
I
> see no basis for making predictions about possible societies using our own
> societies as the base material. You'd have to perform your social
> experiments with ideologically committed people.

For goodness sake, he said "seemingly".

> > and I don't see how increasing economic productivity by a factor of 10
> > or 100 or 1000 will change that.

It won't. Because you get the new problems of boredom and
feelings of uselessness to deal with. Rich kids are senselessly
destructive just as often as poor kids.

> You can certainly remove the contest for resources and one-upsmanship as
> motives for violence. You may still have crimes of passion, although the
> permissiveness of resources might influence the permissiveness of
sexuality.

Only if no one cares if they get stuck with the ugly chick. The
BUTT UGLY chick.

"What if you could have sex with anyone you wanted, and
anyone who wanted to could have sex with you?"

> The only remaining frontier of violence is ideology. It's a hard stretch
to
> maintain violent ideologies when people are basically happy, well-fed, and
> under-stressed.

No. The population of the US is more materially comfortable
(I suppose this would include Europe as well... the *West* then)
than has ever been before in the world. Why are we still
violent? Even the *poor* are ridiculously well off compared
to some historical periods. Not that poor people are demonstrably
more violent than people who are not poor by the standards of
the society. Wealth does not make us better people or less
violent.

> Sure there will be inequality. Somone gets a 4 bedroom house instead of
> your 3 bedroom house. People will bitch and moan about their slice of the
> pie. But the pie is huge.

So why are they bitching and moaning?

(...)
> > that lets the colonist say "Gimme an
> > automatic tractor, and then a milling machine, and then a computer,"
your
> > 10,000 colonists may in fact have a real bitch of a time 50 years down
the
> > road making, say, semiconductors (or whatever they're using at that
point)
> > to replace the AI that runs everything.

Yes. You would need a *very* large population to
support the kind of highly specialized technology that
we have today. 10,000 colonists probably would need
far more generalists who could fix tractors and any
other farm equiptment, hydroponics pumps, etc. than
could make various computer components.

A "replicator" would be a very handy crutch, though,
until the population increases to be able to support
large numbers of specialists.

> They've been travelling for 20 years already. Think they didn't replace
> some semiconductors?

They have really durable semi-conductors.

--Julie


Matthew DeBell

unread,
Dec 8, 2000, 11:52:50 PM12/8/00
to
Brandon Van Every wrote in message ...

>
>"Matthew DeBell" <m...@attglobal.net> wrote in message
>news:3a307...@news1.prserv.net...
>>
>> Well, I'm not assuming a communist utopia. A small close-knit group may
>> prefer to own all property in common, but I don't assume this will work
>> generally. Also, as you note, the number of "slouches and malcontents"
>> depends on a lot more than the energy and wealth available to the colony.
>> Above some threshold, energy and wealth probably have less to do with it
>> than social organization and culture; there will be crime, mental
illness,
>> civic indifference, and so forth, because these blights are the seemingly
>> inevitable results of complex society (and its attendant bureaucracy,
>> inequality, violence, anomic tendencies, etc.).
>
>On what basis do you make this leap of logic? I agree with you about it
>being culturally dependent. I do not agree with you about the "seemingly
>inevitable results." For instance, I seriously doubt that 1 million Amish
>in space would have anywhere near the range of laziness and indifference as
>you see in the average USA populace. They'd have a range *within their
>society* but that range might appear negligible to an outside observer.

The Amish are not a good example. Amish society is not what I would call
"complex" relative to other societies. It is a small, relativley
homogenous, technologically hobbled group. And the Amish are unlikely to go
to space.

I'm not denying that significant cultural variations do and will exist. I
do deny that a large, complex society can consist entirely of industrious,
intelligent good citizens. At least, I deny that it's plausible. Social
complexity increases the standard of living, and it brings with it
alienation and anomie and isolation, which sow the seeds of political and
social conflict.

>> So far we know of no way
>> for complex society to exist without bureaucracy, inequality, violence,
>> etc.,
>
>Societies exist as a matter of self-perpetuation. You can't expect our
>current societies, which have all the negative qualities you mention, to be
>uprooted in any way and become something other than what they are. Ergo, I
>see no basis for making predictions about possible societies using our own
>societies as the base material. You'd have to perform your social
>experiments with ideologically committed people.


If we can't make predictions about possible societies using what we've
observed about other societies as the basis for prediction, then we have no
basis for prediction at all. Nothing makes any sense, and all fantasies are
equally plausible.

>> and I don't see how increasing economic productivity by a factor of 10
>> or 100 or 1000 will change that.
>

>You can certainly remove the contest for resources and one-upsmanship as
>motives for violence.

You cannot remove the contest for resources if people bear any cultural
resemblance to people today. Scarcity is universal.

>You may still have crimes of passion, although the
>permissiveness of resources might influence the permissiveness of
sexuality.

>The only remaining frontier of violence is ideology. It's a hard stretch
to
>maintain violent ideologies when people are basically happy, well-fed, and
>under-stressed.

Economic bounty does not eliminate stress. Rich people are just as
stressed, depressed, neurotic, and agitated as middle class people. The USA
is one of the richest societies that has ever existed, but it's still very
violent.

>Sure there will be inequality. Somone gets a 4 bedroom house instead of
>your 3 bedroom house. People will bitch and moan about their slice of the
>pie. But the pie is huge.

Huge relative to what? Americans have a "huge" pie to divvy up, certainly
far more than is needed to provide everyone with adequate housing, food,
education, health care, etc., yet inequality remains one of the most salient
features of modern society. Being collectively rich (which western
civilization already is) does very little to mitigate social inequality or
its consequences.


>> What I'm getting at is that unless the technology in the box in the hold
>of
>> your ship consists of a self-replicating vertically-integrated automated
>> manufacturing plant (or magic nanotech)
>
>Why "magic" nanotech? Nanotech in 100 years' time may be able to do quite
a
>bit, especially in conjunction with bioengineering and artificial
>intelligence. I agree that industrial self-replication is a desireable
>feature for a colony.

I think it was Clarke who said "Any sufficiently advanced technology is
indistinguishable from magic"?

>> that lets the colonist say "Gimme an
>> automatic tractor, and then a milling machine, and then a computer," your
>> 10,000 colonists may in fact have a real bitch of a time 50 years down
the
>> road making, say, semiconductors (or whatever they're using at that
point)
>> to replace the AI that runs everything.
>

>They've been travelling for 20 years already. Think they didn't replace

>some semiconductors? The ship is going to have to bring some factory
>equipment with it. Stuff for gathering raw materials and processing them
>into components. Hmm, maybe that's a big part of what the ship is designed
>to be: an orbital manufacturing complex. Capable of grabbing an asteroid
>and turning it into terrestrial industrial equipment. This sort of
>technology would have been perfected during Martian colonization. Maybe
>that pushes the timeline to 2200.


Some things don't scale down well at all. Integrated circuit manufacturing,
for instance.

--
Matthew DeBell


Julie Pascal

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Dec 8, 2000, 11:57:09 PM12/8/00
to

"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@3DProgrammer.com> wrote in message
news:Q81Y5.48410$II2.4...@newsread2.prod.itd.earthlink.net...
>
> "Ray Drouillard" <droui...@home.com> wrote in message news:4fYX5.136652

> > Imagine how absurd the idea of a fashion designer or beautician would be
a
> > few thousand years ago.
>
> What are you talking about?

He was making a comparison to how unlikely future professions
may seem to people from this time. It was meant as a generality.

> If you believe this then you do not know
> history. The Romans were very vain. Pompeii had brothels, perfumeries,
> clothiers, even streets with glowing lights down the middle. They just
used
> naturally luminescent rocks for the job.

Which things may have struck most people in that time as
pure lies, if you told them, because they all did their
own hair and make-up and didn't live in Rome.

--Julie

Julie Pascal

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Dec 9, 2000, 12:08:22 AM12/9/00
to
Mostly I wanted to say, I agree with Oliver. And he said
it rather well.

--Julie

"Oliver Neukum" <neu...@fachschaft.cup.uni-muenchen.de> wrote in message

news:Pine.LNX.4.21.001208...@fachschaft.cup.uni-muenchen.de
...

Phideaux

unread,
Dec 9, 2000, 12:24:35 AM12/9/00
to
On Sat, 09 Dec 2000 03:25:57 GMT, "Ray Drouillard"
<droui...@home.com> wrote:

>> > Imagine how absurd the idea of a fashion designer or beautician would be
>a
>> > few thousand years ago.

>OK... I guess I'll have to think of another example. Accountant? Lawyer?
>
>
Microsoft Support Techs and Windows Programmers -- you wouldn't
have to import them with your colony, just choose the most
baboon-like native creatures.

Welfare/Social workers -- the smaller the community the more
likely for individuals to help where they may without formal
structures.

Genaologist (sp?) -- you'd all know where you came from, and the
records wouldn't be easily available anyway.

Priests/Shamans/Witch Doctors -- they would evolve over time to
fit the new situations.


Phideaux
____________________________________
I never really liked computers until
my IBM went down on me.

Julie Pascal

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Dec 9, 2000, 1:49:33 AM12/9/00
to

"Julie Pascal" <ju...@pascal.org> wrote in message
news:90sdl6$1s1p$1...@nntp1.ba.best.com...

> This is no support or proof that "above some threshold" that this list
> of social ills are "seemingly inevitable."

Dang... *not* "seemingly inevitable." This is not proof that these
social ills are *not* "seemingly inevitable"...

--Julie


Brandon Van Every

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Dec 9, 2000, 2:11:20 AM12/9/00
to

"uray" <ur...@remove-att.net> wrote in message
news:VfgY5.11340$Ei1.767760@bgtnsc05-

>
> I lean towards the 50,000 figure that unremembered author used. I
prefer a
> real barber.

It all depends on the quality of your expert systems.

> Pre-planning is important. Our society is overburdened by
specialization and
> our economic systems. Problem with our competitive market driven
system is
> it encourages diversity. Know how many specific make/model TV sets
exist in
> the world? Guess how many models of proximity switches? Seems I
always need
> the part that's only made in some town in Italy, and they took the
month off
> :(

Economic diversity isn't a "problem," it's a range of cost choices
driven lower by free market competition. You get what you pay for. If
you didn't have any choices you'd pay a *lot* more. Also the
competitive economy only lowers costs in markets where there's volume.
No volume, then no economies of scale.

Brandon Van Every

unread,
Dec 9, 2000, 2:17:43 AM12/9/00
to

"Ray Drouillard" <droui...@home.com> wrote in message
news:9DhY5.138279$hD4.34...@news1.rdc1.mi.home.com...

> > > Imagine how absurd the idea of a fashion designer or beautician
would be
> a
> > > few thousand years ago.
> >
> > What are you talking about? If you believe this then you do not
know
> > history. The Romans were very vain. Pompeii had brothels,
perfumeries,
> > clothiers, even streets with glowing lights down the middle. They
just
> used
> > naturally luminescent rocks for the job.
>
> I had actually considered that :-)
>
> Think back more thousands of years - back to sustenance
hunting/gathering.

Well you should have said 10,000 years then. "Few thousand" definitely
falls within recorded human history.

> Hmmm... come to think of it, even the most primitive of societies
seemed to
> be fond of painting their bodies, piercing themselves, and the like.

True, we don't know the ritual vs. economic implications of this for
societies that didn't leave a written record.

> OK... I guess I'll have to think of another example. Accountant?
Lawyer?

The accountant is the basis of the city state. Not sure when you get
magistrates, but worst case not long after. Lawyers, who represent you
professionally in court, come much later I think. I think they arose in
England?

Brandon Van Every

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Dec 9, 2000, 2:40:28 AM12/9/00
to

"Julie Pascal" <ju...@pascal.org> wrote in message
news:90sdl6$1s1p$1...@nntp1.ba.best.com...
>
> How different cultures deal with those inevitabilities is hardly
> an indication that they don't exist.

Your homework problems:
- go look up the Amish murder trial records
- go look up the Spartan lazy boy treatments

We'll be amused by your findings no matter what they are.

> > > and I don't see how increasing economic productivity by a factor
of 10
> > > or 100 or 1000 will change that.
>
> It won't. Because you get the new problems of boredom and
> feelings of uselessness to deal with. Rich kids are senselessly
> destructive just as often as poor kids.

I know it sounds cheesy but it does take a role model. There's no
inevitability in rich kids being bored and destructive.

> > You can certainly remove the contest for resources and
one-upsmanship as
> > motives for violence. You may still have crimes of passion,
although the
> > permissiveness of resources might influence the permissiveness of
> sexuality.
>
> Only if no one cares if they get stuck with the ugly chick. The
> BUTT UGLY chick.

Why do you assume monogamy? Even if you do, there's always plastic
surgery. I saw a book called "Survival of the Prettiest - The Science
of Beauty" if you really want to worry about it.
http://beauty.miningco.com/style/beauty/library/blreview25.htm YMMV as
to how causal you think beauty is.

> "What if you could have sex with anyone you wanted, and
> anyone who wanted to could have sex with you?"

How about teledildonics? That fits the bill.

> > The only remaining frontier of violence is ideology. It's a hard
stretch
> to
> > maintain violent ideologies when people are basically happy,
well-fed, and
> > under-stressed.
>
> No. The population of the US is more materially comfortable
> (I suppose this would include Europe as well... the *West* then)
> than has ever been before in the world. Why are we still
> violent?

Because people in the USA *aren't* all basically happy, well-fed, and
under-stressed.

> > Sure there will be inequality. Somone gets a 4 bedroom house


instead of
> > your 3 bedroom house. People will bitch and moan about their slice
of the
> > pie. But the pie is huge.
>
> So why are they bitching and moaning?

Because people like to bitch and moan. It's pleasurable to them. When
I read newspapers, and so-and-so starts bitching and moaning about some
civic issue, I have a criterion: is this a life-or-death matter, a
serious and grievous social injustice, or somebody whining about their
slice of the pie? Often it's the latter. In that respect, I feel
everyone is entitled to vote for their slice of the pie.

> > They've been travelling for 20 years already. Think they didn't
replace
> > some semiconductors?
>
> They have really durable semi-conductors.

Or else a big box of spares. Doing everything with identical
general-purpose CPUs would have its advantages.

Brandon Van Every

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Dec 9, 2000, 3:11:06 AM12/9/00
to

"Julie Pascal" <ju...@pascal.org> wrote in message
news:90se23$1tdk$1...@nntp1.ba.best.com...

>
> Which things may have struck most people in that time as
> pure lies, if you told them, because they all did their
> own hair and make-up and didn't live in Rome.

Never went into town? Didn't live on the big Senator's estate as a
slave? Yew mus' think dem' country bumpkins ignert.

GrapeApe

unread,
Dec 9, 2000, 3:20:34 AM12/9/00
to
>> The gene pool is the least of your worries. You could carry frozen
>sperm,
>> ova or embryos in your ship.
>
>Heh! How deliciously low tech.

until you try to hatch them.


--cut and paste to adopt this sig file---

Make Deja a useful Usenet Archive again!

http://www2.PetitionOnline.com/dejanews/petition.html

Douglas Muir

unread,
Dec 9, 2000, 2:21:23 AM12/9/00
to
Brandon Van Every wrote:


> > OK... I guess I'll have to think of another example. Accountant?
> Lawyer?
>
> The accountant is the basis of the city state. Not sure when you get
> magistrates, but worst case not long after. Lawyers, who represent you
> professionally in court, come much later I think. I think they arose in
> England?

Depends on your definition of "lawyer", but people who represent other people
before courts have evolved independently several times. The ancient Romans
had them, and so did several African civilizations, and the Arabs.

Present-day American lawyers trace their roots back to medieval England, but
even there the profession is pretty old -- there were full-time lawyers by the
12th century or so.


Doug M.

uray

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Dec 9, 2000, 3:24:02 AM12/9/00
to

"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@3DProgrammer.com> wrote in message
news:sWkY5.51664$II2.4...@newsread2.prod.itd.earthlink.net...

I meant it is a problem in terms of starting an independent colony. I
suspect the early years of any such colony will have to rely heavily on
standardization so that manufacturing can be as flexible as possible. Parts
will need to be very universal so that replacement inventories can be kept
low. I have to keep repair components in stock for critical pieces of
equipment, my list of sensors is over 5 pages long! Yet they could all be
replaced with maybe a dozen specific ones. So instead of only having a
dozen spares I have hundreds. In many cases I do try to standardize,
however due to specific design issues, warranties and such substitution is
not always allowed or practical. Thanks to competing standards (English and
metric) I need two bolt cabinets instead of one, as well as drills, taps and
such. I've probably got more than a dozen specific types of screwdriver
tips.

I may pay more, but I'd have to buy a lot less!

A free market economy is a luxury that not all civilizations can afford.

uray


Douglas Muir

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Dec 9, 2000, 2:34:57 AM12/9/00
to
Brandon Van Every wrote:


> Your homework problems:
> - go look up the Amish murder trial records
> - go look up the Spartan lazy boy treatments
>
> We'll be amused by your findings no matter what they are.

Um, you seem to be sharing in come popular myths about the Amish.

Per capita, the Amish aren't nearly as peaceful as most folks seem to think.
They are a lot less violent than the average American, yes, but at least part
of this is because they're fairly well-to-do; most Amish are middle-class, and
quite a lot of them are wealthy (though none are _very_ wealthy). On average,
they're upper middle class, and very few of them are poor.

Adjust for income, and a lot of the difference vanishes. Upper-middle-class
Americans are *always* much less violent than poor Americans -- they do still
commit crimes, just not violent ones. The Amish track this trend neatly.

A difference still remains, but it's smaller than you might think, especially
given that some violent Amish crime (domestic abuse and such) is almost
certainly underreported due to the clannish nature of Amish society. And the
Amish are actually *more* violent, per capita, than the citizens of some
European countries; a group of 10,000 Amish Americans will probably commit
more violent crimes in a year than a group of 10,000 Danes.

The Amish are both weirder and more normal than the popular stereotype. And
they vary more; several groups are usually lumped together under the single
label "Amish".


Doug M.

Brandon Van Every

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Dec 9, 2000, 8:19:36 AM12/9/00
to

"Douglas Muir" <dougla...@yale.edu> wrote in message

>
> A difference still remains, but it's smaller than you might think,
especially
> given that some violent Amish crime (domestic abuse and such) is
almost
> certainly underreported due to the clannish nature of Amish society.
And the
> Amish are actually *more* violent, per capita, than the citizens of
some
> European countries; a group of 10,000 Amish Americans will probably
commit
> more violent crimes in a year than a group of 10,000 Danes.

From where are you drawing this data and is it available on line? I'd
like to see "the Amish crime statistics." :-)

Brandon Van Every

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Dec 9, 2000, 8:20:24 AM12/9/00
to

"GrapeApe" <grap...@aol.comjunk> wrote in message
news:20001209032034...@ng-fa1.aol.com...

> >> The gene pool is the least of your worries. You could carry frozen
> >sperm,
> >> ova or embryos in your ship.
> >
> >Heh! How deliciously low tech.
>
> until you try to hatch them.

Not if you bring live nude girls with you.

Paul F. Dietz

unread,
Dec 9, 2000, 8:36:34 AM12/9/00
to
Brandon Van Every wrote:

> From where are you drawing this data and is it available on line? I'd
> like to see "the Amish crime statistics." :-)

What is this:

Clop clop.

Clop clop.

Clop clop.

BANG BANG BANG BANG

Clop clop.

Clop clop.


Answer: an Amish drive-by shooting.

Paul

Brandon Van Every

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Dec 9, 2000, 8:41:56 AM12/9/00
to

"uray" <ur...@remove-att.net> wrote in message
news:C_lY5.22573$0r2.793770@bgtnsc07-

>
> I meant it is a problem in terms of starting an independent colony. I
> suspect the early years of any such colony will have to rely heavily
on
> standardization so that manufacturing can be as flexible as possible.

Heck, standardization, nothing, it has to rely on Earth. Or rather it
will rely on Earth, unless you have a means of cutting the umbilical.
Near-stellar travel will not cut the umbilical. If you can get there,
you can also send supplies, in a big long ant convoy one after the
other. Ditto stable wormholes, that's just a variation on proximity.

Random wormholes have the nagging problem that you don't know what's on
the other side. You have to scout them, and your ability to scout them
is limited by how long they're open. If you do even fudge factor math
on the findability of suitably habitable planets given different search
strategies, it looks grim. You can't open these things for 1 minute,
you need 1 year. Else you can bring rapid terraforming equipment with
you, in which case you had enough energy for rapid interstellar travel
anyways. Also even if you're good at terraforming inert rocks, you
still need the potential to hold an atmosphere, a certain distance from
the sun, and a non-eccentric orbit if you don't want to alternately bake
and freeze.

Oh yeah, opening wormholes in the first place is silly, it's
sacrifice-your-star kind of energy. Really only works if you're in a
star system with lotsa stars very close by, and no competing
inhabitants. (Remember, no *competing* inhabitants >-)

The only realistic "colonists rely on themselves" scenarios are:
- generation ships
- Earth blows up

"Colony presumed dead" isn't realistic. Once the colony lands it'll
build a laser and try to communicate with Earth. They'll know exactly
where to send the laser to increase the chance of reception. Contact
can only be temporarily lost.

"Weather interferes" isn't realistic. The colonists will just build
something that orbits somewhere that's free of the weather. In fact, it
might be a good idea to drop interstellar navigational beacons along the
way.

> A free market economy is a luxury that not all civilizations can
afford.

True. The question is, how do you separate the colonial economy from
the Earth economy? I say generally speaking, you can't. Unless Earth
doesn't have an economy anymore.

uray

unread,
Dec 9, 2000, 11:37:13 AM12/9/00
to
"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@3DProgrammer.com> wrote in message
news:EEqY5.52127$II2.4...@newsread2.prod.itd.earthlink.net...

>
> "uray" <ur...@remove-att.net> wrote in message
> news:C_lY5.22573$0r2.793770@bgtnsc07-
> >
> > I meant it is a problem in terms of starting an independent colony. I
> > suspect the early years of any such colony will have to rely heavily
> on
> > standardization so that manufacturing can be as flexible as possible.
>
> Heck, standardization, nothing, it has to rely on Earth. Or rather it
> will rely on Earth, unless you have a means of cutting the umbilical.
> Near-stellar travel will not cut the umbilical. If you can get there,
> you can also send supplies, in a big long ant convoy one after the
> other. Ditto stable wormholes, that's just a variation on proximity.
>

I can imagine the look on someone's face when I tell them: "The Component
is on order, should be here in about 8 years." They often cry when they
have to wait till the next morning..

Ever try to get tech support for a product made on the other side of the
planet? Because of time zone differences it is sometimes like having to
deal with speed of light delays. I often communicate via FAX/Email, but
when a FAX I send "right away in the morning" gets there right after they
all went home for the day it feels like I'm dealing with a supplier half a
light day from Earth.

A convoy is mostly practical for staple items, but why would you ship oil or
raw ore to Proxima? Getting self sufficient on staples would be an early
requirenment. I suspect the biggest "commodity" exchanged would
entertainment and general knowledge.

Another point to remember is that goods in transit exist, and appear
somewhere on a balance sheet. If the travel time is twenty years, and you
want a new supply ship landing say 3 times a year, that's 60 supply ships in
transit at any given time. Some accountant somewhere is going to balk at
having all that inventory sitting in those ships for so long. You would be
sending out ships for twenty years before your customer recieved his first
package. So much for short term quarterly gain.

> Random wormholes have the nagging problem that you don't know what's on
> the other side. You have to scout them, and your ability to scout them
> is limited by how long they're open. If you do even fudge factor math
> on the findability of suitably habitable planets given different search
> strategies, it looks grim. You can't open these things for 1 minute,
> you need 1 year. Else you can bring rapid terraforming equipment with
> you, in which case you had enough energy for rapid interstellar travel
> anyways. Also even if you're good at terraforming inert rocks, you
> still need the potential to hold an atmosphere, a certain distance from
> the sun, and a non-eccentric orbit if you don't want to alternately bake
> and freeze.
>
> Oh yeah, opening wormholes in the first place is silly, it's
> sacrifice-your-star kind of energy. Really only works if you're in a
> star system with lotsa stars very close by, and no competing
> inhabitants. (Remember, no *competing* inhabitants >-)
>
> The only realistic "colonists rely on themselves" scenarios are:
> - generation ships
> - Earth blows up

Isolationists.

>
> "Colony presumed dead" isn't realistic. Once the colony lands it'll
> build a laser and try to communicate with Earth. They'll know exactly
> where to send the laser to increase the chance of reception. Contact
> can only be temporarily lost.
>
> "Weather interferes" isn't realistic. The colonists will just build
> something that orbits somewhere that's free of the weather. In fact, it
> might be a good idea to drop interstellar navigational beacons along the
> way.
>

This all assumes the colony *wants* to talk to Earth. I could imagine a
political or religious extremist group starting a colony with the intent to
"sever all ties".

> > A free market economy is a luxury that not all civilizations can
> afford.
>
> True. The question is, how do you separate the colonial economy from
> the Earth economy? I say generally speaking, you can't. Unless Earth
> doesn't have an economy anymore.
>

The travel time/diffculty determines all. I'm considering it from the
viewpoint of an extrasolar colony and no FTL type drives/wormholes etc..

uray

Oliver Neukum

unread,
Dec 9, 2000, 12:50:37 PM12/9/00
to
> > A modern economy needs an enormous amount of specialised devices.
> > Even today no European country is able to produce useful products in
> all
> > fields of economy.
>
> But the EU as a whole can. As can the USA. So if you've got 250
> million people and trading partners....

So you've got an upper limit for necessary population.

> > Many industrial processes scale badly. If you look up
> > how many top notch chip factories there are today, you can count the
> > nummer with fingers and toes. Being on an alien world makes it even
> > harder.
>
> What happens when you send in the AI robots? "Workforce" doesn't have
> to be measured in humans.

You can patially replace humans with robots.
But its not only workforce, you need a market of sufficient size.

Regards
Oliver


GrapeApe

unread,
Dec 9, 2000, 2:35:20 PM12/9/00
to

>> >> The gene pool is the least of your worries. You could carry frozen
>> >sperm,
>> >> ova or embryos in your ship.
>> >
>> >Heh! How deliciously low tech.
>>
>> until you try to hatch them.
>
>Not if you bring live nude girls with you.

And a technician or three that know what they are doing. At least in the cases
for stored ova or embryos. If you want true genetic diversity rather than
colony matriarcs.

Probably not the best sucess rate either getting those prefabs to take root in
the new oven.

Douglas Muir

unread,
Dec 9, 2000, 3:22:23 PM12/9/00
to
Brandon Van Every wrote:

> From where are you drawing this data

A book called "The Amish and the State", by one Donald Kraybill.

I'd bet there's also stuff online, though; the Amish are one of the more
intensely studied groups out there.


> I'd like to see "the Amish crime statistics." :-)

I Couldn't Make This Up Department:

When I was a law student in Illinois, I met a rural Public Defender who had
several young Amish clients.

According to him, Amish teenagers and young adults have a well deserved
reputation for hell-raising. See, the Illinois Amish don't formally baptize
until adulthood -- early 20s, typically. So until that point, young Amish
aren't bound by the strictures of their religion. They can drive cars, drink
heavily, sleep around, use drugs, go to discos, what have you. Their parents
may disapprove, and may discipline them if they're still living at home, but
it isn't a *sin*, and the Church won't take any action against them. So a lot
of Amish sow their wild oats for a few years before settling down.

One problem with this is that, as kids, they're not exposed much to some
aspects of modern life... especially cars. So they tend to be really horrible
drivers, since they don't have the instincts that come from having ridden in
cars for years. And they tend to have *no* grasp of the dangers of DWI; after
all, you can drive a buggy dead drunk, and the horse will just take you home.

This means that young Amish in cars get stopped by rural cops a lot.

My acquaintance called this a DWA: Driving While Amish.


Doug M.

John Schilling

unread,
Dec 9, 2000, 4:57:27 PM12/9/00
to

>Brandon Van Every wrote:

>What is this:

>Clop clop.

>Clop clop.

>Clop clop.

>BANG BANG BANG BANG

>Clop clop.

>Clop clop.


Isn't that the Mennonite version?

The Amish one works like this:


Clop clop

Clop clop

Clop clop

BANG!

Rattle clunk

Tear spit ssssss

Tap tap tap

Rustle scraaape

"Hey, stand still!"

scrape tap tap tap

rattle scrape

"Dagnabit, I said stand still!"

Click sst click

Rattle

Click

BANG!

Clop clop

Clop clop...


--
*John Schilling * "Anything worth doing, *
*Member:AIAA,NRA,ACLU,SAS,LP * is worth doing for money" *
*Chief Scientist & General Partner * -13th Rule of Acquisition *
*White Elephant Research, LLC * "There is no substitute *
*schi...@spock.usc.edu * for success" *
*661-951-9107 or 661-275-6795 * -58th Rule of Acquisition *


Timothy Little

unread,
Dec 9, 2000, 4:51:19 PM12/9/00
to
Oliver Neukum <neu...@fachschaft.cup.uni-muenchen.de> wrote:

>You can patially replace humans with robots. But its not only
>workforce, you need a market of sufficient size.

If the robots are capable of filling the whole role of workforce, then
the "sufficient size" could be 1 human. What they need, they have
their robot workforce build. They have a standing order for
replacement parts and repairs for their workforce, of course.

So I'd have to say that it is after all just a matter of workforce.


- Tim

GrapeApe

unread,
Dec 9, 2000, 10:40:06 PM12/9/00
to
>Isn't that the Mennonite version?
>
>The Amish one works like this:

what is the difference between a 'gun' and a flint lock as far as these sects
are concerned? Something to do with mass production?

Julie Pascal

unread,
Dec 10, 2000, 3:28:52 AM12/10/00
to

"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@3DProgrammer.com> wrote in message
news:EEqY5.52127$II2.4...@newsread2.prod.itd.earthlink.net...

>
> "uray" <ur...@remove-att.net> wrote in message
> news:C_lY5.22573$0r2.793770@bgtnsc07-
> >
> > I meant it is a problem in terms of starting an independent colony. I
> > suspect the early years of any such colony will have to rely heavily
> on
> > standardization so that manufacturing can be as flexible as possible.
>
> Heck, standardization, nothing, it has to rely on Earth. Or rather it
> will rely on Earth, unless you have a means of cutting the umbilical.
> Near-stellar travel will not cut the umbilical. If you can get there,
> you can also send supplies, in a big long ant convoy one after the
> other. Ditto stable wormholes, that's just a variation on proximity.

Wow.

I'm trying to get my mind around probable supply schedules for
*Mars*.... turn around.... communication lag....

Interstellar figure 9 or more years communications round trip... expense
for ships and fuel.... will they need what they thought they'd need
on what schedule?.. 20, 40, 100 year travel times....

Ooops... wave the magic wand, it will work fine. Just send
a supply ship.

I'm sure there is *some* scenerio where you could just
send a supply ship. I'd never dare say not.

--Julie


Julie Pascal

unread,
Dec 10, 2000, 3:34:37 AM12/10/00
to

"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@3DProgrammer.com> wrote in message
news:uOlY5.51835$II2.4...@newsread2.prod.itd.earthlink.net...

>
> "Julie Pascal" <ju...@pascal.org> wrote in message
> news:90se23$1tdk$1...@nntp1.ba.best.com...
> >
> > Which things may have struck most people in that time as
> > pure lies, if you told them, because they all did their
> > own hair and make-up and didn't live in Rome.
>
> Never went into town? Didn't live on the big Senator's estate as a
> slave? Yew mus' think dem' country bumpkins ignert.

Oops... silly me, the entire population of the earth lived
within horse-cart distance of Rome.

I am such an idiot.

--Julie


Oliver Neukum

unread,
Dec 10, 2000, 6:28:03 AM12/10/00
to

You'd need to assume true AI.
You still need a large number of experts, probably in the hundreds.

Regards
Oliver


Urban Fredriksson

unread,
Dec 10, 2000, 11:28:26 AM12/10/00
to
In article <20001209224006...@ng-fr1.aol.com>,
GrapeApe <grap...@aol.comjunk> wrote:

>what is the difference between a 'gun' and a flint lock as far as these sects
>are concerned? Something to do with mass production?

Rather when they were invented. (But I think even the most
conservative use _some_ things which weren't invented by
the time they were founded.)
--
Urban Fredriksson http://www.canit.se/%7Egriffon/
To get rid of an enemy, make him a friend.

Peter Kwangjun Suk

unread,
Dec 10, 2000, 1:17:30 PM12/10/00
to
On Sat, 09 Dec 2000 01:52:53 GMT, "uray" <ur...@remove-att.net> wrote:

>The number of "skills" in our society is quite large. Do you mind having
>your hair cut by the cook?

Dreadlocks, mon!

>How about having your entertainment provided by
>your neighbor kid trying to play the cello from a "how-to book".

This is a prejudice formed from growing up in a specialized society.
Actually, given the right cultural environment, the neighbor kid's
music might well be better than anything you have in your album
collection. (By some accounts, there are some E. European gypsy
villages with 220 residents and 200 virtuosos.) And I find really
good storytelling (from someone handed down the tradition by a real
master, not a wannabe) vastly better than the stuff we get on TV
produced by paid experts.

A person can exhibit skills for a large number of tasks, if there is a
unifying paradigm for them all. A farmer in an agrarian society could
do hundreds of things, because they were all grounded in commonsense
physical principles -- including music. (I do this myself. Then
again, I also don't own a TV by choice, so I have a time advantage
there.)

Likewise, I can manage to do a passable job with programming in many
different domains.

However, many technical "skills" are grounded in things which are not
like physical principles, but which are arbitrarily (and often
inelegantly) devised by people. (Programming to certain schlock
operating systems.) These "skills" may themselves be very arbitrary
in nature and may not generalize as well.

>Is a GP
>sufficient or do you want experienced surgeons, cardiac specialists and
>such?

As an individual, I'd rather have all the specialists. As a planner
of a colonial society, the cold realist would note that it may be more
economical to let people with exotic conditions die, than to maintain
all that infrastructure. And in fact, this is how it worked with
colonies here on Earth.

>Care to clean up after yourself, or would you rather have a janitor
>do it?

I'm sure you'd survive.

>Need a seamstress?

Do away with fashion. Everyone can just wear sweatsuits and baseball
caps like Frat boys and Frat-rats. ;-)


--
Peter Kwangjun Suk
2000 Killfile Posterchild

Peter Kwangjun Suk

unread,
Dec 10, 2000, 1:24:30 PM12/10/00
to
On 09 Dec 2000 19:35:20 GMT, grap...@aol.comjunk (GrapeApe) wrote:

>
>>> >> The gene pool is the least of your worries. You could carry frozen
>>> >sperm,
>>> >> ova or embryos in your ship.
>>> >
>>> >Heh! How deliciously low tech.
>>>
>>> until you try to hatch them.
>>
>>Not if you bring live nude girls with you.
>
>And a technician or three that know what they are doing. At least in the cases
>for stored ova or embryos. If you want true genetic diversity rather than

>colony matriarchs.
[snip]

You could get a lot of diversity from stored sperm. Much easier to
store. Much easier to "implant."

John Schilling

unread,
Dec 10, 2000, 2:39:17 PM12/10/00
to
gri...@canit.se (Urban Fredriksson) writes:

>In article <20001209224006...@ng-fr1.aol.com>,
>GrapeApe <grap...@aol.comjunk> wrote:

>>what is the difference between a 'gun' and a flint lock as far as these sects
>>are concerned? Something to do with mass production?

>Rather when they were invented. (But I think even the most
>conservative use _some_ things which weren't invented by
>the time they were founded.)


Leaving the realm of jokes for the moment, the issue for the Amish is
not when a thing was invented. There's no "Tech Level Freeze" at work
here; that's an SFnal rather than religious/philosophical concept.

The issue is whether or not the technolgy, whether it be invented
yesterday or thousands of years old, is percieved as making people
lazy or decadent. A telephone in an outbuilding a hundred yards from
the house, that can be used to make calls when truly necessary, is OK.
Telephone in the house that distracts people from living a virtuous
life whenever anyone else wants to chat, not OK.

Weapons technology is irrelevant, because the Amish happen to be agrarian
pacifists who live in an area devoid of hostile fauna. I speculate that
if they had to cull a local coyote population to keep their farms running
they might come up with the interpretation that flintlocks are OK but
repeating rifles are not OK. Mountain lions eating Amish babies for lunch
on a weekly basis, and all bets are off.

Riboflavin

unread,
Dec 10, 2000, 5:14:30 PM12/10/00
to
John Schilling wrote in message <910m55$h7t$1...@spock.usc.edu>...

>The issue is whether or not the technolgy, whether it be invented
>yesterday or thousands of years old, is percieved as making people
>lazy or decadent. A telephone in an outbuilding a hundred yards from
>the house, that can be used to make calls when truly necessary, is OK.
>Telephone in the house that distracts people from living a virtuous
>life whenever anyone else wants to chat, not OK.
>
I thought the issue for them with electricity/telephones was being too
connected to the rest of the world, and so inviting in sin (or something
along those lines), so the reason why a telephone in an outbuilding is OK
would be that it's not really connected to your house. Are there any good
web-based sources on this? I've always found the Amish (and similar
anti-tech groups) somewhat interesting.
--
Kevin Allegood ribotr...@mindspring.pants.com
Remove the pants from my email address to reply
"Life may have no meaning. Or even worse, it may
have a meaning of which I disapprove." -- Ashleigh Brilliant


Jonathan Cresswell

unread,
Dec 10, 2000, 9:17:48 PM12/10/00
to

Riboflavin <ri...@mindspring.com> wrote in message
news:910um7$geu$1...@slb0.atl.mindspring.net...

> John Schilling wrote in message <910m55$h7t$1...@spock.usc.edu>...
> >The issue is whether or not the technolgy, whether it be invented
> >yesterday or thousands of years old, is percieved as making people
> >lazy or decadent. A telephone in an outbuilding a hundred yards from
> >the house, that can be used to make calls when truly necessary, is OK.
> >Telephone in the house that distracts people from living a virtuous
> >life whenever anyone else wants to chat, not OK.
> >
> I thought the issue for them with electricity/telephones was being too
> connected to the rest of the world, and so inviting in sin (or something
> along those lines), so the reason why a telephone in an outbuilding is OK
> would be that it's not really connected to your house. Are there any good
> web-based sources on this? I've always found the Amish (and similar
> anti-tech groups) somewhat interesting.


The original Amish web site is at

www.amish.com

with a mirror site at

www.pennsylvaniadutch.com

since traffic at the first site is often very heavy. ;)


--
Jonathan C


Brandon Van Every

unread,
Dec 11, 2000, 2:25:26 AM12/11/00
to

"uray" <ur...@remove-att.net> wrote in message
news:ZctY5.2847$d62.181653@bgtnsc04-

>
> A convoy is mostly practical for staple items, but why would you ship
oil or
> raw ore to Proxima?

You wouldn't. But Earth would ship zillions of antimatter containers,
that's my current concept. Earth can make 'em on a gigantic,
planet-encompassing Martian complex. Proxima can't.

> Getting self sufficient on staples would be an early requirenment.

Yeah, I don't have a vision yet of what Proximan startup industry would
be like.

> Another point to remember is that goods in transit exist, and appear
> somewhere on a balance sheet.

Antimatter isn't traded, it's a freely given supply. Earth uses tons of
the stuff, it can be manufactured in effectively unlimited quantities.
(Hmm what's the hard science basis for that?) The difficulty is
transporting it to Proxima, you have to waste a lot of energy to get it
there. If Proxima starts getting uppity, Earth cuts off the freely
given supply. Or starts trying to send it only to the faction it
supports.

> If the travel time is twenty years, and you
> want a new supply ship landing say 3 times a year, that's 60 supply
ships in
> transit at any given time. Some accountant somewhere is going to balk
at
> having all that inventory sitting in those ships for so long. You
would be
> sending out ships for twenty years before your customer recieved his
first
> package. So much for short term quarterly gain.

Colonizing Proxima is not a profit-driven venture. It is a consequence
of ridiculous Earth wealth.

> > The only realistic "colonists rely on themselves" scenarios are:
> > - generation ships
> > - Earth blows up
>
> Isolationists.

Only if all the colonists are isolationist. Since they started off with
Earth's bounty, that is politically inconceivable. Isolationism can
develop later, once they're there for awhile. It probably represents a
military putsch.

> This all assumes the colony *wants* to talk to Earth. I could imagine
a
> political or religious extremist group starting a colony with the
intent to
> "sever all ties".

Of course. That's the point of the game. But it's not a starting
condition. It's not like "Lost In Space" where Earth supply is
impossible.

> The travel time/diffculty determines all. I'm considering it from
the
> viewpoint of an extrasolar colony and no FTL type drives/wormholes
etc..

If you can get there, you can always pump a supply chain. The question
is whether that supply chain is profit-driven or not. In my scenario,
it isn't. In your scenario... well for interstellar trade, what can
they possibly bring back from Proxima that is worth the trip? It would
have to be something that you can only manufacture on Proxima.

A wonder-element?

Native life? You don't need the latter in quantity, a few specimens
would do. My Dickensian premise is the planet is Earth-like, so ship
'em home and watch 'em grow, even if their biology is fundamentally
different. Not really a basis for much economic exchange. They're
seeds.

I suppose you could have a growth industry of advanced Proximan biotech,
if there's a compelling application that you can't possibly find close
proxies for on Earth. Sorta like those agro businesses that sell the
non-seeding plants nowadays. Control the supply.

Brandon Van Every

unread,
Dec 11, 2000, 2:30:15 AM12/11/00
to

"Julie Pascal" <ju...@pascal.org> wrote in message
news:90ver0$2ns4$1...@nntp1.ba.best.com...

>
>
> Interstellar figure 9 or more years communications round trip...
expense
> for ships and fuel.... will they need what they thought they'd need
> on what schedule?.. 20, 40, 100 year travel times....
>
> Ooops... wave the magic wand, it will work fine. Just send
> a supply ship.

That's why the colonization of Proxima has to happen as a consequence of
ridiculous human wealth/energy production. Proxima isn't profitable.
It's a vast waste of resources... so Earth must have vast resources to
waste.

Brandon Van Every

unread,
Dec 11, 2000, 2:33:08 AM12/11/00
to

"Julie Pascal" <ju...@pascal.org> wrote in message
news:90vf5o$2o59$1...@nntp1.ba.best.com...

>
> Oops... silly me, the entire population of the earth lived
> within horse-cart distance of Rome.
>
> I am such an idiot.

Rome wasn't the only city or civilization, you know.

Brandon Van Every

unread,
Dec 11, 2000, 2:37:27 AM12/11/00
to

"John Schilling" <schi...@spock.usc.edu> wrote in message news:910m55

>
> Mountain lions eating Amish babies for lunch
> on a weekly basis, and all bets are off.

Sounds like a great game title! "Amish Hunter...."

Michael J Ash

unread,
Dec 11, 2000, 3:28:54 AM12/11/00
to
On Mon, 11 Dec 2000, Brandon Van Every wrote:

> "John Schilling" <schi...@spock.usc.edu> wrote in message news:910m55
> >
> > Mountain lions eating Amish babies for lunch
> > on a weekly basis, and all bets are off.
>
> Sounds like a great game title! "Amish Hunter...."

I think you should maybe try another title. In "Deer Hunter" the player
shot deer, so in "Amish Hunter" the player would shoot.... :)

--
"Say not, 'I have found the truth,' but rather, 'I have found a truth.'
"Say not, 'I have found the path of the soul.' Say rather, 'I have met the
soul walking upon my path.'" -- Khalil Gibran
Mike Ash - <http://www.mikeash.com/>, <mailto:ma...@mikeash.com>

Brandon Van Every

unread,
Dec 11, 2000, 3:50:32 AM12/11/00
to

"Michael J Ash" <mik...@csd.uwm.edu> wrote in message
news:Pine.OSF.3.96.100121...@alpha3.csd.uwm.edu...

> On Mon, 11 Dec 2000, Brandon Van Every wrote:
>
> > "John Schilling" <schi...@spock.usc.edu> wrote in message
news:910m55
> > >
> > > Mountain lions eating Amish babies for lunch
> > > on a weekly basis, and all bets are off.
> >
> > Sounds like a great game title! "Amish Hunter...."
>
> I think you should maybe try another title. In "Deer Hunter" the
player
> shot deer, so in "Amish Hunter" the player would shoot.... :)

You keep out of this he doesn't have to shoot you now.

Timothy Little

unread,
Dec 12, 2000, 2:17:49 AM12/12/00
to
Oliver Neukum <neu...@fachschaft.cup.uni-muenchen.de> wrote:

>> So I'd have to say that it is after all just a matter of workforce.
>
>You'd need to assume true AI.

Yes, that's likely a part of having robots make up all of the
workforce. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it is absolutely
necessary, though. I doubt you'd need full human-equivalence in all
respects.

>You still need a large number of experts, probably in the hundreds.

... or expert systems. Better than we have now, of course. Much of
the technology can be behind state-of-the-art, so that most of the
known problems can be designed into the control system software to
begin with. Likely the software itself would be capable of at least
some form of robust adaptation to local conditions.

Nearly all of the tasks will be relatively routine, or can be made so
by accepting increasing degrees of inefficiency. e.g. repairing a
broken machine is probably more complex than manufacturing a new one.
Robust but less efficient machines may be easier to maintain than
lightweight and energy-sparing yet highly complex and fragile devices.

I must admit that I'm thinking more along the lines of tried and
tested self-sufficiency technology being developed and used widely in
the home system for a hundred or so years before the first
interstellar colony.

If self-sustaining industrial bases do prove capable of being directed
by small groups of people, that would provide a very good reason to
undertake such a lengthy journey to another star. I doubt it would be
long before every dirty snowball in home system was grabbed and put to
use if human workforce no longer provided a limit to industrial
expansion.


- Tim

Oliver Neukum

unread,
Dec 12, 2000, 7:46:48 AM12/12/00
to
> ... or expert systems. Better than we have now, of course. Much of

As I said: true AI.

> Nearly all of the tasks will be relatively routine, or can be made so
> by accepting increasing degrees of inefficiency. e.g. repairing a

After the initial adaption to local circumstances.
Unless you go for a space based society in a colonial system.

> I must admit that I'm thinking more along the lines of tried and
> tested self-sufficiency technology being developed and used widely in
> the home system for a hundred or so years before the first
> interstellar colony.

Very reasonable.



> If self-sustaining industrial bases do prove capable of being directed
> by small groups of people, that would provide a very good reason to
> undertake such a lengthy journey to another star. I doubt it would be
> long before every dirty snowball in home system was grabbed and put to
> use if human workforce no longer provided a limit to industrial
> expansion.

Why would someone develop them ? Total self sufficiency probably doesn't
pay. At that technological level there should be some traffic. Self
sufficiency seems reasonable only with respect for bulk materials.

Regards
Oliver


Brandon Van Every

unread,
Dec 12, 2000, 3:47:36 PM12/12/00
to

"Timothy Little" <t...@freeman.little-possums.net> wrote in message

>
> I must admit that I'm thinking more along the lines of tried and
> tested self-sufficiency technology being developed and used widely in
> the home system for a hundred or so years before the first
> interstellar colony.

As am I. Some things to consider:
- before bothering with another solar system, wouldn't they do
everything on Mars?
- before bothering with Mars, wouldn't they do everything on the Sahara,
Antarctica, the oceans?

Timothy Little

unread,
Dec 12, 2000, 8:06:59 PM12/12/00
to
Oliver Neukum <neu...@fachschaft.cup.uni-muenchen.de> wrote:
[...self sustaining industrial base...]

>Why would someone develop them ? Total self sufficiency probably doesn't
>pay.

You're probably right that total self sufficiency doesn't pay too well
where there are billions of people to run things. However I think it
could easily get to the point where the technology is available
anyway, so why not use it?

I think the biggest hurdle would be developing the software -- that
would likely take trillions of hours of human labour. The process of
writing the first primitive components of such systems has already
started though, and there would be increasing returns at every step.

Our ability to write and maintain large systems will increase, but
software maintenance is still the biggest aspect I can see standing in
the way. Physical maintenance will probably be a secondary issue.


> At that technological level there should be some traffic. Self
>sufficiency seems reasonable only with respect for bulk materials.

Certainly, within the home system. Even if the industrial base is
capable of providing all its own needs, that doesn't mean that they
will have to use it. There are distinct advantages to having at least
the potential for complete economic autonomy though. Being able to
build anything you need without having to pay someone else for it is
pretty useful, since it puts you in a very strong bargaining position.

I think that by itself would be a sufficient reason to use such
technology, even apart from ideologies that might drive people to want
to be self-sufficient without giving up industrial technology.

It would also be useful technology for building such huge-scale
engineering projects as those required to support interstellar travel.
The first industrial machines build more complex and larger systems
that actually do the work of constructing the final solar->antimatter
production plants (or whatever), along with the supporting industry
required to maintain and expand the whole thing while it churns out
ever-increasing quantities of antimatter.


- Tim

Timothy Little

unread,
Dec 12, 2000, 8:29:07 PM12/12/00
to
Brandon Van Every <vane...@3DProgrammer.com> wrote:
>
>As am I. Some things to consider:
>- before bothering with another solar system, wouldn't they do
>everything on Mars?

I expect so. Probably many other places too.

I'm not so sure I see a lot of advantages to Mars in particular.


>- before bothering with Mars, wouldn't they do everything on the
>Sahara, Antarctica, the oceans?

Very likely much of them, yes. Earth has the advantage of having lots
of different elements in abundance. The only major disadvantage is
how close your nearest neighbours are, since any side-effects of your
industry there will affect them far more than some random place in the
solar system. For example, people probably wouldn't like you setting
up a major fusion-powered antimatter production plant in the Atlantic,
but might not mind if you had one somewhere in orbit of Saturn.


- Tim

Brandon Van Every

unread,
Dec 13, 2000, 2:23:28 AM12/13/00
to

"Timothy Little" <t...@freeman.little-possums.net> wrote in message
>
> I think the biggest hurdle would be developing the software -- that
> would likely take trillions of hours of human labour. The process of
> writing the first primitive components of such systems has already
> started though, and there would be increasing returns at every step.

More likely that some day software systems will converge with biology.
It's ridiculous for humans to keep writing everything manually forever.
Past a certain complexity, the system must write itself. Big question
when that day will come.

> There are distinct advantages to having at least
> the potential for complete economic autonomy though. Being able to
> build anything you need without having to pay someone else for it is
> pretty useful, since it puts you in a very strong bargaining position.

But then why would you be trading? You'd just build it. Nobody trades
unless they're lacking something.

> The first industrial machines build more complex and larger systems
> that actually do the work of constructing the final solar->antimatter
> production plants (or whatever), along with the supporting industry
> required to maintain and expand the whole thing while it churns out
> ever-increasing quantities of antimatter.

Indeed, self-assembling systems would be the software and hardware
manufacture of the future. The main struggle is how to get these
systems to be energy-efficient at a strategic scale. Things that put
themselves together are going to waste a lot of energy doing it. You
could run optimization cycles, essentially wasting energy now to make
something more energy efficient later. Size of prototype training set
and scaleup of the training would be big issues.


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Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA um, a witch! <|;-)

Brandon Van Every

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Dec 13, 2000, 2:26:25 AM12/13/00
to

"Timothy Little" <t...@freeman.little-possums.net> wrote in message
>
> I'm not so sure I see a lot of advantages to Mars in particular.

It's nearby. It's way easier to terraform than Venus.

> For example, people probably wouldn't like you setting
> up a major fusion-powered antimatter production plant in the Atlantic,
> but might not mind if you had one somewhere in orbit of Saturn.

Yep, the old NIMBY in space.


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Cheers, www.3DProgrammer.com Look, a troll, er,

Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA um, a witch! <|;-)

Peter Kwangjun Suk

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Dec 13, 2000, 2:04:44 PM12/13/00
to
On Wed, 13 Dec 2000 12:06:59 +1100, t...@freeman.little-possums.net
(Timothy Little) wrote:

>Oliver Neukum <neu...@fachschaft.cup.uni-muenchen.de> wrote:
>[...self sustaining industrial base...]
>>Why would someone develop them ? Total self sufficiency probably doesn't
>>pay.
>
>You're probably right that total self sufficiency doesn't pay too well
>where there are billions of people to run things. However I think it
>could easily get to the point where the technology is available
>anyway, so why not use it?
>
>I think the biggest hurdle would be developing the software -- that
>would likely take trillions of hours of human labour. The process of
>writing the first primitive components of such systems has already
>started though, and there would be increasing returns at every step.
>
>Our ability to write and maintain large systems will increase, but
>software maintenance is still the biggest aspect I can see standing in
>the way. Physical maintenance will probably be a secondary issue.

[snip]

Okay, then we take Brandon's suggestion, and we let the little
bugger's control programs evolve. What we get is essenti