NASA Goddard Talk Monday

This Monday at 3:30p I talk on interstellar colonization at the Engineering Colloquim of NASA Goddard:

Attempts to model interstellar colonization may seem hopelessly compromised by uncertainties regarding the technologies and preferences of advanced civilizations. However, if light speed limits travel speeds and reliability limits travel distances, then a selection effect may eventually determine behavior at the colonization frontier. Making weak assumptions about colonization technology, I use this selection effect to predict colonists’ behavior, including which oases they colonize, how long they stay there, how many seeds they then launch, how fast and far those seeds fly, and how behavior changes with increasing congestion. This colonization model might explain some astrophysical puzzles, predicting lone oases like ours, amid large quiet regions with vast unused resources. (more here; here)

Added: Slides, Audio

I’m also talking on helping now vs. later at the DC Less Wrong Meetup Sunday (tomorrow), 3p in the courtyard of the National Portrait Gallery.

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  • John_Maxwell_IV

    Both of your “more here” links point to the same thing.

  • Doug

    I’m curious, Robin (or any of the other insightful commenters here), what probability value do you put on FTL travel (or at least communication) being feasible for advance civlizations?

    • VV

      I’m not sure that I qualify as an insightful commenter, but I think that probability should be approximately zero.

      FTL travel or communication essentially implies physical abnormalities such as time travel to the past, matter with negative mass, etc.

      • IMASBA

        It’s a question we just can’t answer right now since we haven’t solved the quantum gravity problem.

      • VV

        Sure, quantum gravity might possibly allow time travel to the past, negative mass, etc., but probably it will not.

      • Doug

        “I’m not sure that I qualify as an insightful commenter”

        Don’t be so humble!

  • Presumably whole brain upload tech will come before interstellar travel. Uploaded brains will have a huge cost advantage in interstellar travel, compared to biological humans. Could be as simple as “beam me up, Scotty”, once the receiver hardware was placed there.
    However… would uploaded brains want to “move” and “live” somewhere physically distant? Conjestion won’t be an issue. Why bother? Slows down connection times. Maybe eventually, when they will “want” to control energy at planetary scale or above.

  • Robert Koslover

    Seeding human civilizations into the worlds of other star systems is an established science fiction theme. I’m reminded, in particular, of the late Arthur C. Clarke’s novel, The Songs of Distant Earth ( ). I suspect he would have been glad to know that such ideas still capture our imagination.