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« C-R-Newsletter #22 | Main | Self-Replicating Fab Lab »

September 01, 2004


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Cris, this is a fine article and I look forward to fulfilling this prophecy of living off the grid. As I personally intend to move to space post MM I would be interested in yours or anyone's opinion as to the impact artificial intelligence will have in designing of new and useful products. As I will be moving into space alone taking with me only what I required to survive and a few computers for company. My current strategy is to wait for the space elevator to be deployed and a relatively complex form of MM. I will then move a quantity of feedstock into space and a reasonable size ship perhaps consisting of four or five chambers and a handful of replicators of varying size. One of the key elements I am counting on in this strategy is the use of artificial intelligence to create useful items as I will need many things in space. My current arguments is an old argument that necessity is the mother of invention. As I will be in space living 24- 7 I will recognize the need for products I otherwise would not have anticipated here on earth. And will utilize the assembler's/replicators to produce set products this part of the equation is clear-cut the part that is unclear is the design of the products. I am hopeful that a advanced or reasonably advanced artificial intelligence design system will be able to identify a problem plan a solution and the corresponding product for the assembler's to produce can then be made. Once again I will have already relocated to space so I will be confronting these problems that otherwise would have been difficult to predict.

I also perceive a situation where I will be moving to another location away from earth. The asteroid belt is a obvious choice but for its distance from the sun. On another point does anyone foresee a restriction in place where individuals are not allowed to move asteroids from the outer systems to the intersystem due to the threat of a possible earth impact scenario ? Retrieving a asteroid of reasonable size and converting said asteroid to a living environment seems reasonable. As too defense once again perhaps the artificial intelligence could design a "adequate" defense. I do favor the idea of a utility fog defense combined with one or two other levels. A general question can the utility fog contain solar panels and given the size of a very small foglet would the solar panels produce enough energy to allow the unit to function. Also if the cloud covers and extends outward from the home asteroid some distance perhaps a few miles does this restrict the amount of energy in the form of sunlight to the asteroid surface ?

Mike Deering

As Brett says, there is going to be some formula to restrict the masses that can be homesteaded. We don't want one person claiming an entire planet or major moon, and probably not even a major asteroid such as Ceres. Smaller asteroids, up to the size of a mountain, I would imagine, will be up for grabs. And of course, outside the solar system, the restrictions would dissipate rapidly. If you go far enough, no one will object if you want to turn an entire solar system into your own private paradise.

Brett Bellmore

Or at least once you've succeeded, their objections won't carry very much weight. LOL


You may have a complete self-contained molecular manufacturing system, but the design specs you'd load into it to construct anything at all will be so tied up by intellectual property rights that you will still need to be employed in order to earn money to license them. And poor countries will simply not have the cash to pay; just think how cheap it is now to produce generic drugs, but how poorer nations can't afford them because of the power of US companies with their IP being used to keep prices high.

And theft will be even more widespread as people "pirate" designs, or create free versions that are already patented. The increasing criminalisation of creativity, combined with the natural human tendancies for sharing and oppurtunism will, with the power of nanotech applied to surveliance and enforcement, combine to make criminals of us all.


Not an unreasonable scenario, but not particularly worrying, either. When criminals become the majority, it's not called crime any more, it's called revolution.

And the side you would find yourself on, should it come to civil war? They will outnumber the old guard in creativity, loyalty, technology, industry, resources and just plain old numbers.

I think it'd be kind of short.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

I agree that IP fees could create high levels of artificial scarcity. This could go several ways. Black market could lead to change of policy. Or black market could lead to ongoing struggle; Prohibition lasted 13 years, and the War on Drugs is onging.

Or we could have massive oppressive surveillance sufficient to prevent a black market. Don't think it's impossible, when you can build an airborne camera platform with supercomputer and wireless network for under a dollar. It would just be very, very horrible.


Chris Phoenix, CRN


Yes, a one-person inflatable plane, weighing about 200 pounds (minus fuel and pilot), was built by Goodyear in 1956. It could be inflated in 5 minutes. Cruise speed was 60 MPH, and it could fly for 6.5 hours. A two-person version was also built.

This implies that a molecular manufactured version could weigh about 2 pounds--an order of magnitude less than what I estimated.


John B

With only 2 pounds of mass - say, several hundred pounds fully loaded - wouldn't the 'inflatoplane' have problem with gusts, up/downdrafts, wind sheer, and other 'bad air' situations?

-John B

Chris Phoenix, CRN

An inflatoplane would, sure. Note the low cruise and top speeds. But with better materials and improved shape, you could probably make a design with higher speed and wing loading that would be less susceptible to air conditions. Don't forget, if it's inflatable and actuators are free and featherweight, you can morph it. A big wing for takeoff and landing, a small wing for cruising and bad air. And if you get Arizona-quality air, where 800 FPM down goes all the way to the ground and the wind can switch 30 MPH in three seconds from thermals--and you can't find a landing strip? Then turn the plane into a giant airbag and crash-land safely.

(Yes, I'm a hang glider pilot, and yes, I stopped flying in Arizona after hearing too many stories.)



It seems that with a "smart" material you could compensate for any momentary conditions. I'm guessing just changing wing shape with millisecond response times would be adequate to smooth things out.

You could also actively move air through millions of devices on the wing surface to apply whatever forces needed to smooth things out or even make interesting meneuvers and speed changes...

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