Technological Growth
Posted by aogTuesday, 10 April 2007 at 20:45 TrackBack Ping URL

I think that the hexagon on Saturn’s north pole is very cool. Any geek, of course, will wonder if it’s natural or the artifact of alien technology. While that would be wonderful, I suspect it will turn out to be a natural phenomenon, as hexagons are not unknown in nature.

I wonder, though, whether advanced alien technology will even be detectable without roughly equivalent technology. I think that current trends in information and nano technology indicate that the future will be far more organic in flavor, more pervasive but less regular, less obviously artificial. If this is the natural progression of technology (and I think it is) then recognizing advanced alien technology will be much more difficult. No kilometers long space ships, no gigantic, visible from another star system constructs. Instead, I would expect arrays and swarms of similar, redundant units that are far harder to recognize as constructed.

What I see as the driving force for this is coordination vs. manufacturing costs. When everything is precious, designs must be very rigorous, precise, controlled. Each piece much interact in a specific way with other pieces. Everything must work perfectly because error correction is too expensive.

But as manufacturing costs come down, it becomes harder to coordinate the every increasing number of pieces. There is a tipping point where it becomes better to loosely coordinate, to accept and correct errors and waste because that’s cheaper than trying to be perfect. That’s the point at which technology starts to be come more organic. I think we are near that tipping point and in fifty years there will be much less distinction between what is built and what is grown.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
David Cohen Wednesday, 11 April 2007 at 12:02

I think you’ll still see something approaching a Dyson Sphere, even if rather than a solid artifact it’s a dense swarm of satellites jockeying to collect every last photon. As technology advances, all that nice wasted energy will be too tempting to ignore. (I just hope they remember to leave a window where Earth is.)

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 11 April 2007 at 14:58

A window? You’ll be lucky if they don’t disassemble the planet for building materials.

cjm Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 09:18

i have to think an oasis-like planet such as Earth has to be rare in the universe, and that visitors would value it more as it is (than if it were decomposed).

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 09:36

Why? I think there’s a good chance that any such visitors would be vaccuum adapted and find Earth a dirty, inefficient use of mass.

cjm Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 14:41

the works of man are nothing compared to the works of god.

it’s all about variety and rarity.

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