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Pigs in cyberspaceExploration and colonization of the universe awaits, but Earth-adapted biological humans are ill-equipped to respond to the challenge. Machines have gone farther and seen more, limited though they presently are by insect-like behavior inflexibility. As they become smarter over the coming decades, space will be theirs. Organizations of robots of ever increasing intelligence and sensory and motor ability will expand and transform what they occupy, working with matter, space and time. As they grow, a smaller and smaller fraction of their territory will be undeveloped frontier. Competitive success will depend more and more on using already available matter and space in ever more refined and useful forms. The process, analogous to the miniaturization that makes today's computers a trillion times more powerful than the mechanical calculators of the past, will gradually transform all activity from grossly physical homesteading of raw nature, to minimum-energy quantum transactions of computation. The final frontier will be urbanized, ultimately into an arena where every bit of activity is a meaningful computation: the inhabited portion of the universe will be transformed into a cyberspace. Because it will use resources more efficiently, a mature cyberspace of the distant future will be effectively much bigger than the present physical universe. While only an infinitesimal fraction of existing matter and space is doing interesting work, in a well developed cyberspace every bit will be part of a relevant computation or storing a useful datum. Over time, more compact and faster ways of using space and matter will be invented, and used to restructure the cyberspace, effectively increasing the amount of computational spacetime per unit of physical spacetime. Computational speed-ups will affect the subjective experience of entities in the cyberspace in a paradoxical way. At first glimpse, there is no subjective effect, because everything, inside and outside the individual, speeds up equally. But, more subtly, speed-up produces an expansion of the cyber universe, because, as thought accelerates, more subjective time passes during the fixed (probably lightspeed) physical transit time of a message between a given pair of locations - so those fixed locations seem to grow farther apart. Also, as information storage is made continually more efficient through both denser utilization of matter and more efficient encodings, there will be increasingly more cyber-stuff between any two points. The effect may somewhat resemble the continuous-creation process in the old steady-state theory of the physical universe of Hoyle, Bondi and Gold, where hydrogen atoms appear just fast enough throughout the expanding cosmos to maintain a constant density.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Moravec, Hans
(Carnegie-Mellon Univ. Pittsburgh, PA, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
December 1, 1993
Publication Information
Publication: NASA. Lewis Research Center, Vision 21: Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering in the Era of Cyberspace
Subject Category
Man/System Technology And Life Support
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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