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What would an interstellar spaceship look like?

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    jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 10,409 Arc User
    Nike, you're assuming a technology that not only doesn't exist, it doesn't even have a solid theoretical basis. That's why we're not talking about "printing human colonists", because that's slightly more improbable than making a breakthrough in A-W warp theory.

    Point of order, Brian - I didn't advocate for a NERVA drive, that was Clarke. Personally, I think an upgraded VASIMR system, coupled to a reactor to power it and a supply of ionizable mass (rare earths work best, but aren't really a requirement), would work even better - I do advocate constant-thrust systems, as across interstellar distances you can build up a really good speed.
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    brian334brian334 Member Posts: 2,214 Arc User
    nikeix wrote: »
    Which goes back to my initial point: If your goal is continuity of the species - be it genetically or culturally - you can mail machine colonies out that'll print new humans on site for billionths of the overhead of trying to ship meat. If its about the species then its not about us, specifically or individually, going. Its about moving eggs to other baskets and eggs ship better than adult chickens.

    I understand your point. If machines could print humans I'd agree we should try that method. However, we aren't relying upon magic or technologies for which there are no current theories on how it can be done. So, exactly how do these machines print a human?

    Artificial wombs have been tested on animals, and may one day soon grow humans, but then you have a baby with no mother. How does a machine teach a human to love? How does a machine deal with teenage heartbreak? How does a machine teach a child to appreciate art?

    Humans, deprived of culture, have serious mental, emotional, and social issues. A cursory study of feral children reveals some insights into humanity, principly that at certain ages certain stimuli are required for the child's mental and social development, and if a particular stimuli is absent when that development is in progress, the child never again has the opportunity to go back and accomplish that milestone. Feral children seldom ever become social with other humans, and indeed, few achieve more than a maintenance lifestyle.

    I'm not saying that robots could never become sophisticated enough to mimic human behavior accurately enough to serve as surrogate parents; the growth of expert systems may one day reach a point where it becomes impossible to distinguish human from machine intelligence. (I personally do not believe machines will ever become sentient and self aware, but that may be my anthrocentric egoism showing.)

    But by the time this happens we'll have already been on our way to the stars for generations.

    But I won't mind being wrong.

    Oh, and those pilotless aircraft may one day prove superior to human pilotss, but that day isn't now, or even soon. Pilotless aircraft are extremely limited in what they can do. But then, their purpose is not to be better than a pilot, but to ensure pilots aren't shot down over enemy territory where they can be held hostage. As of today they are essentially reuseable cruise missiles.
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    starkaosstarkaos Member Posts: 11,556 Arc User
    jonsills wrote: »
    Nike, you're assuming a technology that not only doesn't exist, it doesn't even have a solid theoretical basis. That's why we're not talking about "printing human colonists", because that's slightly more improbable than making a breakthrough in A-W warp theory.

    Point of order, Brian - I didn't advocate for a NERVA drive, that was Clarke. Personally, I think an upgraded VASIMR system, coupled to a reactor to power it and a supply of ionizable mass (rare earths work best, but aren't really a requirement), would work even better - I do advocate constant-thrust systems, as across interstellar distances you can build up a really good speed.

    There is a lot of technology to be developed in order to create colony ships. Especially, if it takes 300 years to get to their destination. Either we have the time to send a ton of probes to determine the optimum planet that can support life or we have to learn how to mine asteroids since there is no way to know if the selected star system that a colony ship escaping from a devastated Earth is habitable.

    The amount of desperation in colonizing planets determines which planets will be colonized. If humanity is doing just fine, then there will likely be a ton of potential colony planets that would be ignored due to certain criteria like environment or alien inhabitants. If humanity needs to escape the solar system ASAP, then such considerations are meaningless. If a potential colony planet has alien inhabitants with Medieval technology, then I hope they like some new neighbours.

    Using our current technology or technology that will exist in a few years to build colony ships would only happen under extremely desperate conditions. So colonization might involve printed humans since that might be what exists when interstellar colonization becomes available.
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    brian334brian334 Member Posts: 2,214 Arc User
    edited September 2017
    I disagree. Humans have, since the beginning, been explorers. The need to colonize is fundamental to the human character. In fact, I link many of our present social ills to our lack of a frontier into which the "one percent" who don't fit in can go, and to the same lack into which the rest can project their dreams even knowing they will never go.

    But I agree there is a lot of technological development required. The only way that will happen is if humans go to Mars and the Asteroids and try to live there. Once we do that, once we break free of Earth, where we go and how long it takes to get there becomes irrelevant.

    The destination is far less important than the journey itself.
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    markhawkmanmarkhawkman Member Posts: 35,231 Arc User
    nikeix wrote: »
    We're seeing this same long hard look at ego vs. efficiency in lots of fields now. In the Air Force you have a whole culture of pilots who do not want to admit they're dinosaurs. That any airframe built without the necessities of hauling a pilot performs better in its intended role. Having your decision-making node black out or red out or just plain weigh a whole bunch cripples the functionality vs. an airframe that doesn't. At the moment that means you need to pay the weight/performance hit for remote operation, but instructed-autonomous is going to be a thing and it's going to displace one of THE great bastions of human ego.
    Ah, so THIS is where your train of thought jumped the tracks into crazy town.

    That doesn't work unless you have a competent AI(think Skynet) running things.

    Also, all remote controlled craft have a fundamental flaw. you can't take orders from the tower if you can't pass information back and forth. and sending a craft to another solar system? Heh. Would we ever know what happened if ANYTHING went wrong? Also I have to question the practicality of having an "Artificial Idiot" attempt to raise children... Even if it doesn't go Skynet on you, babies would be able to out think it.
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