Re: poly: Malign Probes and expanding civilizations

From: Perry E. Metzger <>
Date: Sun Dec 21 1997 - 20:05:51 PST

Damien R. Sullivan writes:
> A truly bold SF author would write a story on the scale of _A Fire Upon
> the Deep_, but with all civilization having an origin from Earth, and
> then claim that his equivalent of the Known Net used the forthcoming
> Internet protocol, IPv6. (128 bits; should have enough addresses for a
> galaxy.) If it does the job (decentralized network communication) and
> doesn't mutate easily, why change?
> We do still use something like the original Aramaic alphabet, after all.

A million years is a *long* time, civilization-wise. We've only had
civilization for perhaps 5000 years. Given that nanotechnology may
make change occur at millions of times the current rate, we are
talking truly unimaginable change in a million years. I think that
making reasonable predictions about the world in 100 years is nearly
impossible -- a million is impossible by our standards.

One reason the von Neumann machines discussion isn't unreasonable is
that it makes few real assumptions about the nature of technology or
society, or the ultimate state of the universe. It doesn't predict
much beyond the notion that the universe should be filled with
observable "living" things under certain assumptions, and notes that
it isn't, thus indicating an assumption is faulty.

Received on Mon Dec 22 03:57:45 1997

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