In a recent article, Ian Crawford briefly reviews the technical feasibility of starflight. The main limit is economic: an ability to collect 50,000 tons of (deuterium/helium-3) nuclear fuel (the same weight as
The reason it's called a *premise* is because you accept it prior to analysis. We have a brute judgement when we consider the situation that some amount of additional suffering is acceptable to increase the average.
Indeed, if we *didn't* take that view we'd be morally compelled to do our utmost to extinguish life on earth. If you actually bite that bullet I salute you for your consistency but hope someone does away with you soon before you can make progress on that project.
I think I remember witness reports claiming that people touched electrified fences in order to commit suicide. Be that as it may, suicide obviously exists, if it were self-evident to all people that mere existence is an intrinsic good, there would be no such phenomenon, and there would be no ethical anti-natalist positions either.
Oh man, I know non-existence doesnt mean literal darkness. I was speaking metaphorically.
"But to say it’s prefereable to non-life no matter the circumstance probably underestimates the negativity of severely unpleasant experiences – that would be an epistemic failure." - hedonic treader
I will give you this one example to prove my point. Even in concentrations, arguably the worst state of existence for human beings, most people didn't commit suicide (which would have been easy) even without hope of ever being freed. There was no definite end or relief in sight, it wasn't hope that kept them going, but simply the basic desire to exist, even if it meant to continue existing in their aweful circumstances. My source is the first hand account of actual prisoners, (If this is a Man/The Truce - Primo Levi)
Unless it's a very long gun (many times the size of the solar system), I suspect that nothing worth transporting could survive that kind of acceleration.
Yeah, I also thought about this "sweet spot" question. One difficult thing about it is that there will be a different sweet spot for mission cost and for arrival time. (Fast missions will be costly, but waiting for technology to develop further will drive down fast-mission costs - so how long should you wait?) This sweet spot will be very different from the sweet spot of "earliest possible arrival".
But when it comes to interstellar colonization, I think there's another important milestone, which is: The earliest affordable launch that actually has a good chance of generating a successful colony. This seems to me more important than hitting one of the sweet spots.
Even if that mission takes centuries and has a good chance of being preempted by another, I think it's worth doing. We don't have enough information about the future to project indefinite exponential improvements arbitrarily far in time. We can sit on our hands and wait for a time when we can do this "better". The sweet spot might always seem to be in the future. But who knows what black swans are lurking in our future? I say we launch colonists as soon as we possibly can, and live with the fact that their mission will be very slow. At least they will already be on their way if something unexpected happens to us terrestrials. If they're overtaken, that's no great harm. If humanity misses its colonization window, it is (arguably).
More accurately, what you say is, “The future will contain those replicators that perpetuate themselves into the future.”Well said...
I once read Why the Reckless Survive by Melvin Konner - the bottom line is that they don't only their genes survive. And this has the effect of polluting both the social and the genetic environment for everyone else.
Your metaphor of light and darkness is common, but rather misleading: Non-existence doesn't imply the experience of darkness. We've evolved to be aversive to certain states such as being cold, alone, in the dark, or in spaces that are very tight and constraining, or very open, making us vulnerable. It is unsurprising that memes would evolve that associate being dead with these unpleasant states - religious hell is probably the best example: the aversion to fire is an evolved integrity protection mechanism, and religion merely hijacked its psychological salience. But of course, these experiences are only mental states of a sentient entity while it exists; there is no such thing as darkness for non-life.
Non-existence is not bad, but utterly neutral. Of course, good life is preferable to non-life because it is interesting and it feels good. But to say it's prefereable to non-life no matter the circumstance probably underestimates the negativity of severely unpleasant experiences - that would be an epistemic failure.
The only good argument I can see is that "if there's more good than bad experiences, then it's net-positive". But that implies that consciousness is aggregative in its nature. I think it's more plausible to see distinct mental states experienced by different organisms (or by the same organism at different times) as structures in distinct space-time locations: Where the suffering exists, the pleasure doesn't exist. This is timelessly true. If you are tortured tomorrow, but superhappy the day after, an aggregative calculus may be net-positive, but the torture and the happiness are not experienced by the same entity; once you change mental states, you're no longer the "same" consciousness.
Why not just build a big gun in space? Shoot them out of that. Then they'd only need a way to slow down. Leading to less mass to travel with. A long gun could lessen the initial gs and accelerate them without scrambling them.
Perhaps I watched too many cartoons as a kid?
To answer the comment about more life = more suffering I would argue that life is always preferrable to non-life no matter the circumstances.
We exist in a world of darkness. Our life is a window into the light through which we see the dance of colors, and forms, and patterns, and it's beautiful, and it's ugly too, but after a time the window closes again and we return to the darkness...forever. How can one be anything but utterly grateful to be given this window to peer through even for but a moment.
And also this speculation is based on the nearest star, however the nearest hospitable planet is likely to be much farther away. Thus in order to get there would require many generations of humans.
I think a better solution to creating one huge "ark" ship is to send out thousands of probes with life seeds (more like extremophile bacteria and spores) to numerous locations throughout the cosmos to ensure the endurance of life, even though most likely it has arisen elsewhere anyways, but we dont know that for sure.
Hedonic Treader and others who buy into the anti-natalist philosophy, really need to look into meditation, Buddhism and the nature of the "suffering self" you keep coming back to.
Helium-3 is extremely rare in Earth's crust, but boron(p-B11) is plentiful, which could make interstellar starship powered by aneutronic reactor more technically feasible.
It seems likely to me that any ship that took 36 years to reach its destination would be overtaken by more advanced ships that take fewer years. Say 15 years into that ship's flight we develop a ship that can reach the destination in 10 years. Your 36 year crew might arrive at their destination to find a base already in place. This raises the question as to whether there's a sweet spot for launching a mission and whether we should wait until we hit that. If we have a good idea that we'll one-up our technology before X years, should we wait that long before launching or launch now? Etc.
No you *square* the fuel/payload ratio, not double. That's the killer of the rocket equation.
"I picture sending out a “dead” ship, with a whole bunch of frozen genetic material (of humans, animals, plants, etc.). Once the ship parks in orbit around a suitable planet, the fist generation of fertilized eggs would be gestated in an artificial womb. [This is not crazy! Already, we're making great progress towards this from both ends: We can keep cells dividing for quite a long time without implanting them in a person, and incubator technology is also advancing rapidly. I expect that the two could meet in our lifetimes.]"
I agree that we should do this. It would be good to cut down the risk of the extinction of mankind.
You are right! I've corrected the error now.
The mass of a 1 mm radius grain of silicate composition is 10^-14 kg, and its kinetic energy at 0.1c is 4.5 J. …
That is a very low density for "silicate". I would have guessed something more like 10^-6 kg, or about a milligram. Are you sure that isn't 1 um (micrometer) instead?