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#1 2002-06-30 14:01:37

oker56
Member
Registered: 2002-06-30
Posts: 85

Re: Nanotechnology and Intelligent life

Zubrin in his "Entering Space", tries to write off molecular nanotechnology by arguing that if it were possible, we'd see alien molecular nanotechnology by now. 

He clearly doesn't understand the improbability of intelligent species as oppossed to mere bacteria.  Intelligent species needs lot's of time to develop.  He seems to be totally ignorant of the latest understanding's about life - stable non-equilibrium structure's, autopoiesis theory, hypercycles, and Stuwart Kauffman's complexity theory.

He thinks just because astronomers have found supergiants within the orbit's of earth no less, that those supergiants will harbor intelligent life.  All in the meanwhile, he writes about how jupiters radiation belts makes intelligent life settlements impractical(for the initial stages).

Personally, I find his mars hypothesis to be a further blow to the idea of advance extraterrestrial intelligences getting very far.  Not only is a moon necessary and very improbably, but a mars is to!  Imagine another solar system that just happens to have an earth moon system, which is an astonomical improbability in itself as explained in the rare earth book, but that system just happens to not have a mars!  Then, that E.T. society is stucker than stuck!  No alien Zubrin to save that species from the puzzle of how to establish themselves on their moon that is impractical to permanently settle themselves out in space.  Then again, maybe somehow, they'll get their politicians fund the moon colony for 500 billion dollars per year.

No, I think the real reason why we don't see E.T. technological life is because of the rare earth hypothesis, and even some more in the form of my social self-destruction hypothesis(it's been said a thousand times before, just most people don't understand how it can happen; i recommend Alvin Tofflers works).

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#2 2002-06-30 17:49:06

oker56
Member
Registered: 2002-06-30
Posts: 85

Re: Nanotechnology and Intelligent life

I'd like to further add that Zubrin doesn't seem to know about the latest understanding's of life because he thinks molecular nanotechnological machines are life.

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#3 2002-06-30 18:27:28

Phobos
Member
Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Nanotechnology and Intelligent life

I get the feeling that if we ever do meet E.T. there's a good chance E.T. will be an artificial lifeform instead of a biological one.  I think our technology will eventually advance to the point that it will be far more intelligent and robust than a mere flesh and blood human could ever be regardless of genetic manipulation.  I know it sounds kooky, but I think it's just about inevitable.  Anyways, I think Zubrin sometimes tries to go into areas where he really isn't an expert, but I still think his ideas for getting to Mars are good ones nonetheless.


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#4 2002-06-30 20:42:10

oker56
Member
Registered: 2002-06-30
Posts: 85

Re: Nanotechnology and Intelligent life

I'll admit that E.T. civilization's will probably be self-engineered but only to a degree.  The only way a thing can be living is if it is uncontrolled.

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#5 2002-06-30 22:38:15

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Nanotechnology and Intelligent life

Phobos:  I get the feeling that if we ever do meet E.T. there's a good chance E.T. will be an artificial lifeform instead of a biological one. 

*Vger, can you hear me?  That is, to me, a most compelling concept; it is also why "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" is my favorite science fiction flick.  Whoever wrote the story was a genius, IMO.  The Voyager craft are out of our solar system now, from what I understand [there were 2 of them, if I recall correctly].  I don't think the scenario presented in the movie is completely improbable.

Phobos:  I think our technology will eventually advance to the point that it will be far more intelligent and robust than a mere flesh and blood human could ever be regardless of genetic manipulation. 

*And in that event, let's hope the artificial intelligences treat us more nicely than we humans have tended to treat each other smile  No matter how "genetically perfect" a human could be genetically engineered to be, they will still be subject to emotions, peer pressure, societal conditioning [including exposure to prejudices], irrational aspects of the human psyche, etc.

Phobos:  I know it sounds kooky, but I think it's just about inevitable. 

*I don't see anything "kooky" about what you're saying.  I've read/heard other people expressing similar sentiments.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#6 2002-06-30 23:10:07

oker56
Member
Registered: 2002-06-30
Posts: 85

Re: Nanotechnology and Intelligent life

If I recall correctly, the first star trek movie was written by none other than Isaac Asimov.  The first star trek movie was indeed the best movie of that series.  I'm much more of an original series fan than the new generaltion and whatever else they have going nowaday's, but even then, I find the later star treks getting out of hand.

As for robot's treating us better than humans treat each other, that idea also goes to Isaac Asimov, in his law's robots.  His laws of robots are so influencial.  I've seen them in the "Forbidden Planet" movie with robbie the robot, and Robocop, and who know's where else.

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#7 2002-07-01 00:42:38

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Nanotechnology and Intelligent life

If I recall correctly, the first star trek movie was written by none other than Isaac Asimov.  The first star trek movie was indeed the best movie of that series.  I'm much more of an original series fan than the new generaltion and whatever else they have going nowaday's, but even then, I find the later star treks getting out of hand.[/quote:post_uid3]
*Asimov's _Nightfall_ can't be beat.  An independent film company [with an apparently small budget] made it into a movie in 2000, starring David Carradine.  Perhaps it was made into a movie prior to this one, and I missed it somehow.  It's a low-budget film, as mentioned, but very worthwhile.

As for Star Trek:  I used to be a fan.  I still am in a way; I watch maybe half a dozen episodes of the original series in a year. 

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#8 2002-07-01 18:00:41

Phobos
Member
Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Nanotechnology and Intelligent life

*Vger, can you hear me?  That is, to me, a most compelling concept; it is also why "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" is my favorite science fiction flick.  Whoever wrote the story was a genius, IMO.  The Voyager craft are out of our solar system now, from what I understand [there were 2 of them, if I recall correctly].  I don't think the scenario presented in the movie is completely improbable.
[/quote:post_uid0]

I think Star Trek the Motion Picture presents an interesting idea.  If you did create an A.I. life form then sent it out   without it having knowledge of its origin, would it get curious as to who created it and attempt to find its creator?  And would it view its creator with reverence?  Or would it do like we do and just create some god in it's own image? smile  As for Voyager, it's not *quite* out of the Solar System yet.  Pretty quickly though it will have passed the boundary where the sun's effect on the Solar System ends and interstellar space begins.  I heard that they just switched the star tracker system on Voyager that keeps it's antenna pointed to Earth from its primary one to its backup one.  So it's still ticking, hopefully it won't come back and nuke us with big balls of lightning. smile

*And in that event, let's hope the artificial intelligences treat us more nicely than we humans have tended to treat each other   No matter how "genetically perfect" a human could be genetically engineered to be, they will still be subject to emotions, peer pressure, societal conditioning [including exposure to prejudices], irrational aspects of the human psyche, etc. [/quote:post_uid0]

I think A.I. will far surpass anything we can achieve with genetic engineering.  Fairly recently Stephen Hawkings said that we need to genetically engineer ourselves to compete with future advances in computers, but you can only tweak a human so much.  Anyways, I think if we do succeed in creating A.I. there's a good chance it can be nurtured to be compassionate and benevolent.  Well, unless the military has different plans. sad

If I recall correctly, the first star trek movie was written by none other than Isaac Asimov.  The first star trek movie was indeed the best movie of that series.  I'm much more of an original series fan than the new generaltion and whatever else they have going nowaday's, but even then, I find the later star treks getting out of hand.
[/quote:post_uid0]

The absolute best episode of all the Star Treks is the one where Kirk finds a perfectly harmonious society where there's no death, no fighting, plenty of food for everyone, and then turns them into raving, murderous lunatics after he destroys their god Val.  Then for Kirk to have the nerve at the end of the movie to basically tell Spock, "well we fixed them, now they'll have to rely on themselves!"  So much for the prime directive. smile


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#9 2002-07-02 19:57:18

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Nanotechnology and Intelligent life

Phobos:  "I think Star Trek the Motion Picture presents an interesting idea.  If you did create an A.I. life form then sent it out without it having knowledge of its origin, would it get curious as to who created it and attempt to find its creator?  And would it view its creator with reverence? Or would it do like we do and just create some god in it's own image?   

*Maybe it would never occur to the A.I. to try and figure out who created it.  Perhaps the lack of this trait in the A.I. would distinguish it from homo sapiens.  Interesting questions you ask.

Phobos:  "As for Voyager, it's not *quite* out of the Solar System yet...So it's still ticking, hopefully it won't come back and nuke us with big balls of lightning."

*LOL!

Phobos:  I think A.I. will far surpass anything we can achieve with genetic engineering.  Fairly recently Stephen Hawkings said that we need to genetically engineer ourselves to compete with future advances in computers...

*Erm...I wonder if he truly feels this way about it, or if he's merely echoing a trend?  Probably the former, considering the debilitating disease he suffers from, i.e. wishing to eradicate --or at least alleviate to a great degree -- disease and human suffering.  What's interesting is that Benjamin Franklin wrote to a friend his anticipation of perfecting mankind.  He ran the risk of being branded a crackpot for saying, in the 1700's, that perhaps one day science would lead mankind permanently away from disease -- and perhaps even death.  He also said he regretted having been born so soon, for he anticipated further great advances in science, technology, machinery, etc.

Phobos:  "The absolute best episode of all the Star Treks is the one where Kirk finds a perfectly harmonious society where there's no death, no fighting, plenty of food for everyone, and then turns them into raving, murderous lunatics after he destroys their god Val.  Then for Kirk to have the nerve at the end of the movie to basically tell Spock, "well we fixed them, now they'll have to rely on themselves!"  So much for the prime directive."

*Aw, but Captain Kirk was so cute and adorable, Starfleet Command let him get away with it...didn't they?  Heck, they even let him get away with actually going against command and temporarily "borrowing" the Enterprise!  Yes, when you've got a handsome face and a cute derriere, you can get away with just about anything  wink

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#10 2002-07-03 18:13:14

Phobos
Member
Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Nanotechnology and Intelligent life

*Erm...I wonder if he truly feels this way about it, or if he's merely echoing a trend?  Probably the former, considering the debilitating disease he suffers from, i.e. wishing to eradicate --or at least alleviate to a great degree -- disease and human suffering.  What's interesting is that Benjamin Franklin wrote to a friend his anticipation of perfecting mankind.  He ran the risk of being branded a crackpot for saying, in the 1700's, that perhaps one day science would lead mankind permanently away from disease -- and perhaps even death.  He also said he regretted having been born so soon, for he anticipated further great advances in science, technology, machinery, etc.
[/quote:post_uid0]

I think this is a good example of labelling that you were writing about earlier.  That word "crackpot" is often a club that's wielded by the closed minded against those with far-reaching but not necessarily impossible ideas.  I've read articles that have accused the Mars Society of being an association of crackpots, but I don't understand what is so bizarre or impossible about colonizing Mars.  God knows if we had to cow-tow to every naysayer we'd still be living in caves.
Anyways, to explore some crackpot ideas even further, it's possible in the future that we may be able to scan the brain with such precision that every single nueral connection could be accounted for and then downloaded into a lightning fast computer of some type.  It would essentially be an electronic copy of you that could perhaps give you a taste of immortality and freedom from disease.  So maybe that old crackpot Ben Franklin still has a few surprises waiting for us. smile 

*Aw, but Captain Kirk was so cute and adorable, Starfleet Command let him get away with it...didn't they?  Heck, they even let him get away with actually going against command and temporarily "borrowing" the Enterprise!  Yes, when you've got a handsome face and a cute derriere, you can get away with just about anything 
[/quote:post_uid0]

LOL! That's the absolute truth.


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#11 2002-07-16 11:21:11

Palomar
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Nanotechnology and Intelligent life

Phobos, someone agrees with you that perhaps any intelligent life we detect in the cosmos may prove to be artificial intelligence:

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/news?tm....ns_dc_1

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#12 2002-07-16 21:09:48

Phobos
Member
Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Nanotechnology and Intelligent life

Hey, thanks for the article.  I finally have some ammunition I can point to.  I think once we understand the nature of intelligence and can develop the computer power and other technologies required to create it, that a.i. it will far surpass human intelligence regardless of any DNA tinkering.  So it might be more probable that we will contact highly intelligent artificial life forms rather than their biological counterparts since a.i. that can custom engineer itself to the rigors of spaceflight and has the intelligence to boot, will be far better as surviving throughout the cosmos.


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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#13 2002-09-10 07:01:56

Shaun Barrett
Member
From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Nanotechnology and Intelligent life

I guess I'm a bit of a Johnny-come-lately to this topic, so I hope it's O.K. to throw in my two cents worth!
   Phobos, your idea of scanning the human brain with such precision that every last neural connection could be duplicated in a machine, thus endowing the machine with the intellect of the individual so copied, might not work. As far as I know, the brain stores memories in chemical form as well as in inter-neural connections. The connections tend to give us the reflexes and the everyday skills we need to balance while we walk, run, catch a ball etc., while the chemical storage system gives us memories of things like a nice day at the beach when we were kids. To complicate things, the storage of either or both types of memory is apparently holistic. In other words, the destruction of an area of the brain which is normally associated with a particular activity or motor skill, will sometimes only affect that activity temporarily, or  memories will gradually reappear, as though dredged from another region where they were kept for emergencies only!!
   What I'm trying to say is that it looks like the brain is far more complicated than even its staggeringly complex inter-neural connection network makes it appear. It's like the proverbial 'ghost in the machine'. It's like there's more to it than just plumbing, and reproducing that plumbing won't give you the individual you were trying to copy.
   I know I'm verging on religion here, but I don't know how else to express this. Call it consciousness, if you prefer to avoid nebulous terms like spirit or soul ... though defining any one of these terms is probably just as difficult as defining any other.
   I've even wondered about Star Trek's transporter system. When Kirk and Spock dematerialise, are their atoms actually moved through space and reassembled? Or are their atoms discarded, and new ones used at the destination to recreate them from an information matrix? Either way, I've wondered whether it would in fact be a means of finally proving there's more to us than a complicated set of molecules. Just suppose that the first time they tried it on a human, an exact duplicate of the human appeared on cue, but had no personality! A living creature, apparently human, and perfect in every detail but one ... it wasn't the same person! In fact, what if it wasn't really a person at all? ... Everything there except the consciousness we knew and loved in the original man or woman. Sounds like the script for a sci-fi horror movie, doesn't it?!
   Incidentally, there is a common theme in a number of old sci-fi stories, where races have produced the technology to transfer their brains into mechanical bodies. A great idea in principle, since you can swap the aging body at intervals for a newer model with, say, a high-performance turbo-charged engine and traction control! (Just kidding.) That way you can practically live forever ... at least in theory.
   Almost invariably, though, the creature thus modified loses its 'humanity' in some way. It becomes machine-like and lacking in emotions because it's no longer in touch with a living, breathing, 'natural' body. (Actually, it usually becomes cruel and power-crazy and tries to conquer Earth, too! But that's not really the point of my post.)   
   Anyhow, what I'm trying to say is that there may be more to being a human than just connections. And we might be getting close to the day when we can either prove or disprove the notion once and for all.
                                          smile


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#14 2002-09-10 08:42:39

Nirgal82
Member
From: El Paso TX, USA
Registered: 2002-07-09
Posts: 112

Re: Nanotechnology and Intelligent life

Copying the connections only will probably not work.
The neuron is apparently far more complex than we know so far.  Apparently memory and consioiusness may have its roots in the subatomic level.  We do have a long way to go into understanding all the aspects of quantum mechanics.
But perhaps a synthetic neuron could be developed to be exactly like a natural one, however it may be just as fragile.  Something as complex as a human neuron, may be inherently fragile.  After all there's not many materials you can duplicate a neuron with, all the way down to the way its atoms are arranged.
I think it is totally possible and perhaps inevitable (to those civilizations that live long enough anyway) to make a switch from their biological origins to something a little more robust.  If we, humans, live long enough to do it, it'll be so far away from where we are now technology wise.  Right now we just don't have the technological "handles" with which to grasp the problem.
As for losing our "humanity" without our human bodies, I think thats sortof absurd, its not my arms, legs, torso, eyes, and susceptability to disease that makes me human.  Its my mind.  And if that can be preserved great, sure many many psychological and personal changes will occur during this "unnatural" longevity, however I'm sure if an humanity leaves us, it will be our pettyness, shortsightedness and pursuit of power.  As it is those things that become unecessary traits when you live forever. (alot of those things are driven by mortality, the need to accomplish things before you die sometimes doesn't give you the time to fully plan and map out all possible consequenses...)

Your friendly neighborhood Martian...
-Matt


"...all matter is merely energy condensed into a slow vibration.  We are all one consiousness experiencing itself subjectively.  There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream and we are the imagination of ourselves."  -Bill Hicks

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#15 2002-09-11 05:09:53

Shaun Barrett
Member
From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Nanotechnology and Intelligent life

You raise a most interesting point in asserting that much of what is worst in human nature stems from the brevity of our lives:-
   Quote from Nirgal82:  "... our pettiness, shortsightedness and pursuit of power. ... things that become unnecessary traits when you live forever."

   I wonder whether wisdom would come from even just the contemplation of ages of existence ahead of you, or whether you were saying the very process of living so long would imbue us all with the wisdom that so few of us today live long enough to achieve?

   On a more prosaic level, just returning to the question of retaining humanity in an artificial body, I suppose it would depend on the sophistication of the body.
   In a purely mechanical body, without the subtleties of smell and taste and touch, I imagine we would become something other than human eventually. Because much of what we are is still, I think, dependent on subtle biological input and interactions. We are still largely animals, with a veneer of cerebral cortex superimposed on top!
   In an extremely sophisticated body, created to relay every nuance of the senses to the appropriate centres in our brains, perhaps we could remain essentially human ... whatever that means.
   But then, in order to rise above the pettiness Nirgal82 describes, perhaps we need to lose at least some of our humanity.(? )
                                         :0


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#16 2002-09-11 23:02:38

Nirgal82
Member
From: El Paso TX, USA
Registered: 2002-07-09
Posts: 112

Re: Nanotechnology and Intelligent life

Somewhat of a paradox isn't it, heh heh

I was assuming a body that can do everything ours can, plus or minus a few things,
Plus, a few more visual spectrums, wider degree in pitch of hearing, Sense of "smell" that can accurately define chemical composition of scent (without risk of poisoning from fumes)
Minus things like susceptibility to disease, cancer and the like.

However one of the biggest hurdles to be jumped in the development of an "artificial" body will be the self repairing aspects.
As for the deterioration of human "pettiness" I mentioned, I think it could occur both ways among different individuals.  The realization that one will persist for an undefined period of time far longer than the life of a regular human, or during the course of said life.

Your friendly neighborhood Martian...
-Matt


"...all matter is merely energy condensed into a slow vibration.  We are all one consiousness experiencing itself subjectively.  There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream and we are the imagination of ourselves."  -Bill Hicks

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#17 2002-09-12 20:44:48

Phobos
Member
Registered: 2002-01-02
Posts: 1,103

Re: Nanotechnology and Intelligent life

However one of the biggest hurdles to be jumped in the development of an "artificial" body will be the self repairing aspects.
[/quote:post_uid0]

If we develop nano-technology to a high enough level we could probably design bodies with self-repair mechanisms that would have the ability to repair itself or be replaced in the same manner that biological cells do.  At the minimum I'd imagine that the AI would have the ability to re-arrange damaged areas with materials (using nano-technology) the way our own bodies use nutrients for those functions.  I think the AI bodies of the future will be more analogous to our own bodies in their texture and operation. 

Phobos, your idea of scanning the human brain with such precision that every last neural connection could be duplicated in a machine, thus endowing the machine with the intellect of the individual so copied, might not work. As far as I know, the brain stores memories in chemical form as well as in inter-neural connections. The connections tend to give us the reflexes and the everyday skills we need to balance while we walk, run, catch a ball etc., while the chemical storage system gives us memories of things like a nice day at the beach when we were kids. To complicate things, the storage of either or both types of memory is apparently holistic.[/quote:post_uid0]

I don't think the holographic memory aspects of human memory would necessarily be a challenge to copy and implement in a machine but your right about the chemical state of the brain being as important in its functions as the arrangement of the nuerons and that that might make it impossible to "download" a brain.  If we can't develop some kind of technology for taking a "snapshot" of the brain in all of it's functions, chemical and otherwise, brain downloading might be just a pipe-dream.  I always thought transferring your mental state to some kind of computer would be a sure thing but I'm not so sure anymore. sad


To achieve the impossible you must attempt the absurd

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