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Von Neumann Probe War


Prolific Member
Local time
Today, 07:02
Dec 12, 2009
Part speculation, part world building.

We need to send people to Mars to build the infrastructure to support the people we send to Mars, a catch 22.

Sending that infrastructure prebuilt is impractical, sending robots to build it from local resources is very challenging but far more feasible than sending entire factories, foundries, refineries, habitation, etc, from Earth. After this is successfully achieved on Mars Von Neumann Probes (I'm just going to call them probes) will be sent to every planet in the Sol system, probably not to establish colonies but rather mining operations, research station, data centers, processing farms, etc.

Humanity will colonize the Sol system itself with a Dyson swarm of habitat stations, with little modification these will become sub-light speed colony ships, as they accelerate away at a constant 1G the people aboard these ships will experience this acceleration as artificial gravity. Imagine the Burj Khalifa, except ten times larger and flying through space point first, the orientation of the artificial gravity being perpendicular to what is currently portrayed in sci-fi.

Probes have been sent out prior to these colony ships leaving and the Sol system has been sending more out ever since, the probes are accelerating much faster and will arrive far sooner than the colony ships. There's ample time for the probes to unpack and set about establishing infrastructure, most will have centuries to prepare, some will have planet wide cities ready and waiting millennia before their residents arrive.

The probes are programmed to receive updates from Sol, or whoever has the right codes, and before they arrive colonists buy the planet from whichever organization sent a probe to it. Although sometimes multiple probes land on the same planet around the same time leading to autonomous conflicts and sometimes colonists don't bother buying the planet, they just conquer it.

Maybe we're not the only ones sending probes out, what happens when an alien race encounters our probes and/or we encounter theirs?


I am all of my perception (Sally 666)
Local time
Today, 12:02
Apr 4, 2010
Before robots, the people most likely to colonize Mars will have a higher level intelligence than most people on earth. They probably want to keep it that way. No girls dumb people allowed. When robots arrive they would placate the dumb people back home with cheap goods robots make. Genetic alteration like crispr gene editing would allow people to become smarter and have the right personality modifications (like artificial attitude selection in dogs) to be allowed it immigrate to Mars. After that mind uploading becomes available and everyone lives in one server farm a mile long. Further migration becomes pointless.

Currently, A.I. is at the stage of the steam engine 1712. We need to machine the metal parts to make a model T Ford in the 1920's. It's not that A.I. is hard (making cars is just as hard as A.I.) it is that we do not have the right theories. If we had the proper theory then A.I. would be simple. With that, we could make robots to do human things.

Kurzweil predicts A.I. is just 12 years away.

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