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Running Out Of Room
Though he doesn't say it explicitly, Randall Parker explains why we'll have to eventually settle space.Posted by Rand Simberg at November 06, 2006 06:11 AM
Randall makes a great point about natural selection (both in the sense of evolution and culture) eventually reversing the current fertility decline in developed countries.
It is far worse than this, of course. The human-habital volume of the universe starts here at Earth and goes outward at the maximum speed humans can travel at a given time. Given that this speed has a hard limit at the speed of light, the human-habitable volume can be aproximated by vol=N*t^3 (combining as the constant terms into N). Assuming that humans continue to experience exponential population growth, the human population will similarly grow as pop=N*e^t.
So, unless we stop growing or find a FTL drive, the human population density goes to infinity very quickly...
Of course, the easiest way to solve this with current technology is to use virtual worlds... further, it is foolish to assume that we would happen to be the first generation of humans in the universe... the matrix, anyone?Posted by David Summers at November 6, 2006 09:42 AM
Of course, the easiest way to solve this with current technology is to use virtual worlds... further, it is foolish to assume that we would happen to be the first generation of humans in the universe... the matrix, anyone?
Don't see why not. It's kind of difficult to fool the physicists.Posted by Karl Hallowell at November 6, 2006 11:48 AM
It's kind of difficult to fool the physicists.
Um, no it isn't... if you were living in a simulated world, the physicists would understand the simulated physics. In a sufficiently advanced simulation, you could not tell - and remember, if there are any hard questions (like what should hubble really see), they can just access data from a real universe.
I mean really, quantum mechanics is a dead giveaway! Essentially, QM says that nothing happens/is decided until a human observes it, at which point the universe looks at all the available data and chooses the solution that fits the previous facts. This can easily be seen as the output of a simulator, where the computer is only interested in the parts of the universe that humans in the simulator see. (Sort of like clipping planes in our own simulations). It just doesn't bother to calculate what happened to individual electrons (it abstracts the problem out) until some human observer needs to know what happened - and then it makes a probabilistic selection.
See - I just made QM make sense! ;-}Posted by David Summers at November 6, 2006 01:03 PM
What I do not understand about these Matrix scenarios is who will pay the electric bill to Consolidated Edison, and why?
As an addiction, I can see the attraction of permanently living in a virtual world. Beautiful supermodels fawning all over me and so forth (the steak scene from the Matrix comes to mind) but who pays the electric bill?
In "Matrix" evil computers keep humanity enslaved for reasons I found highly implausible. In the real world, why would they bother? And absent motives for enslavement, those in the "real world" could eradicate those in the simulated world pretty much whenever they wanted to.
= = =
If we learn how to actually download our sentience into machines (rather than link to a very good VR program) then that will change everything. But as long as we need our meatware bodies, I do not foresee VR lives being more than addictions for the uber-wealthy.
= = =
The Matrix is however a darn good allegory of gnostic religious thought. Yet as allegory it cannot be taken literally.
Addictive, quite probably. 'Uber-wealthy?' Not for long. The Holodeck-Addicted Reginald Barclay of Star Trek is the ultimate extension of TV couch potatoes and some computer/console gamers (espically massively multiplayer RPGs [EverQuest is sometimes called 'EverCrack' for a reason]).
And as with TV and electronic gaming, thre's little reason to think intensely realistic VR will necessairily require signifigant wealth, except for the early adopters.
If direct sensory inputs (for which there are probably other developmental reasons) are possible? Then abuse/addiction happens so much the faster...
Point taken, Frank.
Still, someone needs to pay the electric bills and feed the meatware that experiences the intensely realistic VR.
And change the Depends? ;-/
But if we are to develop a society of soma addicts, someone will still need to engage in actual economic production.Posted by Bill White at November 6, 2006 08:08 PM
Quote from Bill: "In "Matrix" evil computers keep humanity enslaved for reasons I found highly implausible. In the real world, why would they bother?"
Because there was a nascent curiosity on the part of the machines about their creator. They in a way viewed us as their god. We after all created them in the image of man. Which leads one up to the question: What would you do if you could trap God in a bottle?
I don't think one could bring themselves to completely destroy God out of spite for all those things we felt he/she/it had done to wrong in the past. Then you would in a sense be destroying the link to understanding one's self.
Chicken Soup for the Matrix soul.Posted by Josh Reiter at November 7, 2006 03:40 AM
A very nice reply, Josh.
Perhaps I mis-remember the movie because the thought in my mind was that they were harvesting body heat or some such nonsense. But if Morpheus was lying to Neo (or just confused) then maybe that surface explanation was intended to be nonsense.
Perhaps a more succinct answer would be that the Matrix computers keep people alive because they love people.
Curious, indeed. But are we (should we be) eager to embrace such a future?Posted by Bill White at November 7, 2006 06:22 AM
I wonder who told him that humans have a reproductive instinct? We certainly have a *sex drive*, but that's not the same thing at all, at least now that sex and reproduction are decouplable.
Possibly such an instinct will develop in time, but I'm not going to hold my breath.Posted by Jason Bontrager at November 7, 2006 09:33 AM
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