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Re: Argosy Mission Overhaul
- To: bmansur <email@example.com>, David <David@InterWorld.com>, hous0042 <firstname.lastname@example.org>, jim <email@example.com>, KellySt <KellySt@aol.com>, kgstar <firstname.lastname@example.org>, lparker <email@example.com>, rddesign <firstname.lastname@example.org>, stevev <email@example.com>, "T.L.G.vanderLinden" <T.L.G.vanderLinden@student.utwente.nl>
- To: zkulpa <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: Re: Argosy Mission Overhaul
- From: Brian Mansur <email@example.com>
- Date: Mon, 11 Mar 96 16:15:00 PST
- Encoding: 121 TEXT
>Your story about probes made me remember a story of Startrek. An alien
>probe "programmed" one of the crew-members who became very intelligent.
>Driven by his new intelligence the crew member changed the matrix of
>quantum-space-time in such a way that the whole Enterprise traveled 10,000
>ly in a few seconds. There an alien race waited for them. That alien race
>figured it was much easier to make other races come to them than the
>otherway around. (I found the whole idea, quite fascinating)
I saw that episode and thought it would have been cool if the Enterprise had
spent a few more episodes just exploring strange new worlds in that corner
of the galaxy. Would have been a little like Voyager come to think of it.
>Think about it. The maser/laser driven sails need 1E18 (probably 1E20 to
>account for efficiency) to fly. That means planet size power arrays if the
>source is solar. The RAIRs need lots of fuel that has to be packaged and
>put into position by some kind of infrastructure. That _just_ might be
>within the capabilities of human manpower. Anti-matter energy has to be
>made from an equal (or greater depending on efficiency) amount of energy.
> That equates to huge power stations to do the matter/anti-matter
>conversion. Simply launching rockets with fusion pellets as their fuel
>(like the Daedalus) may be doable for small loads but we would quickly run
>out of rare isotope fusion fuel. Unless, of course, A LOT more could be
>made by some trick of physics involving fusion techniques perhaps. Of
>course, a rare isotope factory would most likely require a huge power array
>to run it.
>Although the use of robots is tempting, we should try to focus on other
>ideas that include less intelligent automation.
I agree that it would be better, but since I've sunk so much time into this
design already, I'll go ahead and write up an Argosy paper that assumes the
high robotic tech. Who knows, it may turn out useful for the LIT charter
purpose after all. And then I'll try to come back to the 20th/21st century
>We "know" AI-robots could make anything work but that solution would be a
bit >too simple, unless we could come up with a rough design for such kind
Actually, I'm assuming that robots would have limits based on their
programming. I imagine that the first working, completely automated systems
would, in some ways, be less efficient in computer controled hands than if
humans were doing the same job. For example: how do you think computers and
robots would have handled the job of bringing home the Apollo 13 crew?
Suppose that computers and robots were acting as mission control. Also
suppose that these computers were dependant on programming that told them
what to do when hazardous "what if" situations threatened the mission (like
an exploding oxygen tank disabling the Odyssey). If the only programming
that the computers had for dealing with problems was what the programmers
had anticipated, then Apollo 13 would never have made it back to Earth. The
computers would have never used the LEM to do course corrections because
none of the gremlin guys responsible for anticipating problems had even
bothered to simulate using the LEM for course corrections and so that would
never have been programmed in to be considered as a possibilty (that is a
Now that is how the computers (that I am aware of) work. A more advanced
computer program in place of the imaginary mission control computer that
would have just lost Apollo 13 might have been given different programming
that would have told it to consider this problem (that's another long
sentence): Service module disabled. Need to make course corrections. What
is there onboard the spacecraft/LEM combo that could be used to make needed
course corrections for spacecraft return to Earth given the guidance
accuracy's of working onboard computers? The computer, knowing through
other programming that the LEM had an engine, might select the possibilty of
using the LEM's landing engine.
I realize this is a sketchy and even inaccurate description of just some of
the complications of artificial intelligence. And the purpose of our
discussion is to build a starship that will take us to TC. But needless to
say, a computer would have lost the Apollo 13 mission because it was a dead
ship, with no power to even run the guidance computers. So even if the
computers had thought to use the LEM to correct the ship's course, it
wouldn't have been able to carry that decision through for lack of power
The spacecraft would have been written off as a loss by the computers. In a
robotic society something else would have been built and launched to take
Apollo 13's place (unfortunately Lovell, Swigert, and Hayes would be a
little bit more difficult to replace ;). This would have been done because
the self-automated robot society is based on MASS production where every
part of the robotic civilization is easy to build, and, therefore, easily
replaceable. This mass production approach accounts for defects in the
system that, while repairable through human intervention, are considered too
insignificant to bother with. Why worry about a dying drone when you have a
million others to handle its job? Fortunately, this system doesn't apply to
human societies where we do bother to heal the sick.
This is my conservative twist for my already unconservative assumption of
robotic automation and it is designed to help me believe in my own automated
robot solutions. I'll try to give the group a baseline plan for how such a
robotic system would work. It will probably have components inferred by the
previous discussion and you can bet it will be filled with problems that
might possibly even spark another avalanche of disscusion letters. By the
way. I have 41 unread messages right now. Most of which I probably won't
read till Spring Break later this week.
>I'm wondering if you haven't given up sails too fast, anyway continue
>your search for new possibilities.
I haven't up on the sails. I've just given up on retro-sails. At least
for now. I'll probably reconsider it one of these days.
The Argosy design that I have in mind is, in fact, a maser driven sail
attached to a ion rocket with a habitat that carries colonists and explorers
to a starsystem already visited by Pathfinding/Pathmaking robots. Those
robots are assumed to have set up a maser system for decelerating the ship.
This solves what has always been our biggest problem, stopping.