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"Magic wand technology wish"


MKI
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Imagine an alien-Amazon-delivery-space-craft dropped off a package at the wrong address, leaving a package on Earth, and in that package was a single piece of technology humanity could reverse engineer.

What should be in that package, and why?

 

PS the alien-Amazon-delivery-space-craft is just a quirky way to ask the question. Alien-Amazon will not come back to get the package, nor will the original civilization come knocking looking for its fancy tech 2 days later ;D 

 

Edited by MKI
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16 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:

If you can't remember my answer, it works.

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Dunno, seems like just as good a pick as any. Most of the breakthrough technologies we've developed over the last 30 years have either wound up being nowhere near as world-changing as we thought they'd be or straight-up bit us in the ass. So, yeah, I'm having a hard time thinking of something that wouldn't wind up getting ratioed by The Law of Unintended Consequences. Cure for cancer, maybe?

(And, now that I'm thinking about it, if you want to see how memory-erasing technology could go pear-shaped, watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Which is worth watching anyway, if you haven't.)

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I'm torn between FTL, and whatever tech is required for arbitrary lifespan expansion. FTL is clearly more in the realm of magic, it depends on the spirit of the question. Given the usual conditionality with which I think, I would say the real difference in the two above would be "the fastest possible interstellar travel technology for living beings" (whatever that happens to be) vs "whatever tech can most lengthen human lifespan."

Given that choice I'd likely take the latter, as the former will be engineered anyway eventually given time, and extending MY life longer might allow me to see it.

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Can we gang up on the delivery guy and steal his truck?

Even if this was his last package of the day (or whatever time system Spaceazon works with), so no additional packages, just taking a look under the hood of the truck itself would be insane.

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This:

40 minutes ago, tater said:

whatever tech is required for arbitrary lifespan expansion

Will lead to more and bloodier wars than we've ever seen. I mean, people are already ready to chop off heads because rich people summer in St Barts. Can you imagine what it will be like when rich people live to be 300 and poor people don't? Or when people in developed nations have extended lifespans and people in developing countries don't? Or, okay, so we make it cheap enough to give to every person on the planet. Now we have eight billion people who are all going to live forever. Are we going to let them keep having (immortal) children? How are we going to stop them? Try going into Indian culture or Middle Eastern culture and telling them, "Okay, you're not allowed to have children anymore." Not going to happen. Thomas Malthus would be laughing in his grave.

FTL? Might as well ask for time travel, since, you know, FTL = Time Travel. And if we have time travel, well, then reality as we know it will pretty much just cease to exist. Of course, there's always Niven's Law:

"If the universe of discourse permits the possibility of time travel and of changing the past, then no time machine will be invented in that universe."

Not sure how that would apply to FTL. "If FTL is possible then no FTL drive will be invented," I guess.

I guess if I really had to ask for some tech, something within the realm of possibility, it would be some sort of clean torch drive. Something that gives you easy access to space and reasonable access to nearby stars without all of the WMD implications of a reactionless drive. Even that would be fraught with peril, but it probably wouldn't wipe out the species.

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2 hours ago, tater said:

whatever tech can most lengthen human lifespan.

I argree

25 minutes ago, TheSaint said:

Will lead to more and bloodier wars than we've ever seen. I mean, people are already ready to chop off heads because rich people summer in St Barts. Can you imagine what it will be like when rich people live to be 300 and poor people don't? Or when people in developed nations have extended lifespans and people in developing countries don't? Or, okay, so we make it cheap enough to give to every person on the planet. Now we have eight billion people who are all going to live forever. Are we going to let them keep having (immortal) children? How are we going to stop them? Try going into Indian culture or Middle Eastern culture and telling them, "Okay, you're not allowed to have children anymore." Not going to happen. Thomas Malthus would be laughing in his grave.

To fix that problem, just make the avrage human life span 200-300 years.

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6 minutes ago, Admiral Fluffy said:

To fix that problem, just make the avrage human life span 200-300 years.

Won't work. In a couple of generations people will be complaining that 300 years isn't enough. The rich and privileged will be circumventing the limit, and it will be class warfare all over again.

This isn't an engineering problem, its a psychological problem. If you want to try to understand why, look at the standard of living of poor people today compared to poor people 100 years ago. It's staggering. Poor people today have televisions, mobile phones, automobiles, indoor plumbing, refrigeration, air conditioning, a staggering number of conveniences that were either the playthings of the rich or simply non-existent 100 years ago. But they still consider themselves poor, under-privileged, destitute, they cry out for relief from their suffering. Because they don't compare themselves to the people of 100 years ago, they compare themselves to the rich. So, you can give them whatever you want to give them, you can extend their lifespan to 200, 300 years, doesn't matter. As long as the rich have something they don't, they will envy. And the greater the disparity, the greater the envy.

And as for the population issue, limiting the lifespan doesn't work for that either. It's like sticking your finger in the dike. A person can have a lot of kids in 300 years. And those kids can have a lot of kids in their 300 years too. You could rig the anagathic so that it sterilized the person when it was administered, I suppose. But you know that someone is going to find a way around that. Especially the (wait for it) rich people. Which is going to lead us right back to the paragraph above. Niven imagined the birth right system in Known Space after booster spice was introduced, and he briefly touched on some of the enforcement issues when he was discussing ARM in his later books. It's not pretty.

In reality, life extension will either lead to unending strife and warfare, or a locked-down police state run by the privileged elite. I'll stick with mortality, thanks.

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Just now, TheSaint said:

a staggering number of conveniences

What's really staggering is that you're ignoring the level of food insecurity that exists. Pre-pandemic, the percentage of people in the U.S.  that experienced it was 10.5%. During the pandemic it got to 23%.

If you're going to get into politics-adjacent territory, be thorough and correct.

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1 minute ago, TheSaint said:

In reality, life extension will either lead to unending strife and warfare, or a locked-down police state run by the privileged elite. I'll stick with mortality, thanks.

I can think of a few "outs" I can think of for this technology:

1. Advancements through extended work of a few increase scientific progress, along with pushing humanity to expand into the stars. (sounds absurd, but then this is all a hypothetical so throw me a bone haha)

2. Assuming life extension also increase usable life (otherwise it doesn't really work), overall humanity productivity will go up. Old age is the #1 health hazard, solve that and suddenly your entire population is now your workforce. Obviously retirement makes no sense if you essentially life forever. 

 

There's no doubt life extension could create other problems, but I'm not sure about if "poor people will revolt" is a reasonable one, or more generally the problem of its impact on "inequality" as such an argument could be applied to almost any technological advancement, as any technology advancement could create inequality if applied unequally. 

I can see life extension technology go lots of bad ways (like what you mentioned) but also see it go lots of good ways, neither are clear cut or 100% guaranteed either way. 

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Admiral Fluffy said:

All of the other points you have are great, but once we get O'neil cyllenders and colonies on other planets, the population issue will be negligible. Doesn't get rid of class warfare though.

You still have to get them off of the planet. Not thousands of them, millions of them. Make sure you put my torch drive on your Christmas list too.

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1 hour ago, TheSaint said:

This:

Will lead to more and bloodier wars than we've ever seen. I mean, people are already ready to chop off heads because rich people summer in St Barts. Can you imagine what it will be like when rich people live to be 300 and poor people don't? Or when people in developed nations have extended lifespans and people in developing countries don't? Or, okay, so we make it cheap enough to give to every person on the planet. Now we have eight billion people who are all going to live forever. Are we going to let them keep having (immortal) children? How are we going to stop them? Try going into Indian culture or Middle Eastern culture and telling them, "Okay, you're not allowed to have children anymore." Not going to happen. Thomas Malthus would be laughing in his grave.

FTL? Might as well ask for time travel, since, you know, FTL = Time Travel. And if we have time travel, well, then reality as we know it will pretty much just cease to exist. Of course, there's always Niven's Law:

"If the universe of discourse permits the possibility of time travel and of changing the past, then no time machine will be invented in that universe."

Not sure how that would apply to FTL. "If FTL is possible then no FTL drive will be invented," I guess.

I guess if I really had to ask for some tech, something within the realm of possibility, it would be some sort of clean torch drive. Something that gives you easy access to space and reasonable access to nearby stars without all of the WMD implications of a reactionless drive. Even that would be fraught with peril, but it probably wouldn't wipe out the species.

 

I already have found the answer to at least some of your issues.

 

A safer...albeit fictional constant acceleration high thrust drive can be easily countered with some type of faster warp, FTL, or jump drive.

 

That's exactly the reason I made up fictional warp missiles in a previous thread.

 

If light speed is the limit, then you need something that can get to that speed fast to counter any near lightspeed RKV's.

 

It won't stop a guy flying up to RKV speed, but with enough monitoring satelites and warp missiles someone or something can take  him down before he hits the target.

The best defense probably is and always will be a good offense. Take it down before it takes you down....at least with imminent threats that you have zero options to negotiate with.

Edited by Spacescifi
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Ooh ... since there is "magic" in the question, there's so much fun stuff to wish for. In no particular order and with little regards for the laws of physics or other practicalities:

  • Delay-free communications with unlimited range and bandwidth
  • Safe anti-gravity
  • An universally acceptable algorithm to determine truth
  • Objective morals
  • A harmless cure for stupidity, greed, and malice
  • A universally acceptable system of politics and ethics that people will have no issues adhering to
  • A harmless and comfortable way to restore bodies to perfect health and sanity (preferably with a module about accepting mortality and dying peacefully at an appropriate age, with the appropriate number of living descendants)
  • An infinite resource multiplicator (and a universally acceptable way to use it responsibly)
  • An infallible means of resource distribution that everybody will be fine with
  • Infinite reassurance that it'll be fine in the end
  • A way to come to terms with the overwhelmingness of the universe and the limited means a person has to experience it
  • A toaster that keeps the toast just warm enough not to burn, for long enough that it's still warm when you take the last bite
  • The contact info to magic space Amazon and a limitless gift card

I mean, sure, many of those fall within the category of "Haha, that's impossible", but remember, magic.

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6 hours ago, TheSaint said:

In reality, life extension will either lead to unending strife and warfare, or a locked-down police state run by the privileged elite. I'll stick with mortality, thanks.

Lifespans have already increased globally, and all metrics of human wellbeing are grossly better now than 100 years ago (and longer). Longevity is also already associated with affluence.

I'm not seeing the problem.

Honestly, some aspects of whatever is possible will be related to medical care and perhaps anti-aging treatments, but at least some component will be diet, exercise, etc. People who spent the last year more afraid than they needed to be none the less were apparently not so afraid that they bothered to put the bon bons down for a year (least based on my observations in CostCo).

Ie: They'll take an anti-aging shot, yipee!, but won't do anything that requires any effort at all on their part.

BTW, Lifespan, by David Sinclair is worth a read.

Edited by tater
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4 minutes ago, Codraroll said:

Ooh ... since there is "magic" in the question, there's so much fun stuff to wish for. In no particular order and with little regards for the laws of physics or other practicalities:

  • Delay-free communications with unlimited range and bandwidth
  • Safe anti-gravity
  • An universally acceptable algorithm to determine truth
  • Objective morals
  • A harmless cure for stupidity, greed, and malice
  • A universally acceptable system of politics and ethics that people will have no issues adhering to
  • A harmless and comfortable way to restore bodies to perfect health and sanity (preferably with a module about accepting mortality and dying peacefully at an appropriate age, with the appropriate number of living descendants)
  • An infinite resource multiplicator (and a universally acceptable way to use it responsibly)
  • An infallible means of resource distribution that everybody will be fine with
  • Infinite reassurance that it'll be fine in the end
  • A way to come to terms with the overwhelmingness of the universe and the limited means a person has to experience it
  • A toaster that keeps the toast just warm enough not to burn, for long enough that it's still warm when you take the last bite
  • The contact info to magic space Amazon and a limitless gift card

I mean, sure, many of those fall within the category of "Haha, that's impossible", but remember, magic.

I like that. :)

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8 hours ago, TheSaint said:

Now we have eight billion people who are all going to live forever.

All social networks will get out of disk space,

And the typical KSP forum thread will consist of two posts:
OP: "What if?.."
Moderator: "No. See the 'Previously Asked Questions'. The thread is closed."

All imageboards will consist of: "No... Not that meme again. It was just five thousand years ago..."

The Walking Dead will be extended fo the next, 1465th season.
Together with its known 87 spin-offs.

8 hours ago, TheSaint said:

FTL? Might as well ask for time travel, since, you know, FTL = Time Travel. And if we have time travel, well, then reality as we know it will pretty much just cease to exist. Of course, there's always Niven's Law:

"If the universe of discourse permits the possibility of time travel and of changing the past, then no time machine will be invented in that universe."

Or just the time travel moves you to another plane of the Multiverse, indistinguishable from your past, and actually no paradox happens.

7 hours ago, Admiral Fluffy said:

To fix that problem, just make the avrage human life span 200-300 years.

Indeed. That's usually enough to completely pay off the mortgage.

7 hours ago, TheSaint said:

And as for the population issue, limiting the lifespan doesn't work for that either. It's like sticking your finger in the dike. A person can have a lot of kids in 300 years. And those kids can have a lot of kids in their 300 years too. You could rig the anagathic so that it sterilized the person when it was administered, I suppose. But you know that someone is going to find a way around that.

The urbanisation drops the birth rate below 2 per woman in all developed societies.

Also they can follow the Brave New World methodics and give the immortality by a mecdical procedure making them sterile.
(The biochemical changes suppress the further reproductive function. A collateral effect, independent on money).
Also they grow the children industrially, as clones.
A video adaptation is available. 
Actually, it's hard to see why they call that book "distopia". Everyone is happy there, just don't make the current, archaic people join their society if they don't want.

7 hours ago, Admiral Fluffy said:

but once we get O'neil cyllenders and colonies on other planets, the population issue will be negligible.

Never happens to be.
Just calculate the required area of solar receivers or fusion heat radiators required for that O'Neill cyilnder population, and you will see that it can support tens-hundreds thousand of people, so:

1) O'Neill cylinders are totally useless.
2) Millions of people can live only in the habitation zone of the star, keeping the farming on the surface of a friendly planet.

So, the extraterrestrial expansion is not a viable demographic strategy at all.
It can give only outposts, vaults, bases, and very rarely - small colonies.

6 hours ago, TheSaint said:

You still have to get them off of the planet.

No problem, just make the planet hostile for a while.
The question is, where get to?

6 hours ago, Codraroll said:

A harmless cure for stupidity, greed, and malice

Brave New World

6 hours ago, Codraroll said:

A harmless and comfortable way to restore bodies to perfect health and sanity (preferably with a module about accepting mortality and dying peacefully at an appropriate age, with the appropriate number of living descendants)

And everlasting dental and silicone implants.

Edited by kerbiloid
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My parcel contains an alien camping power generator.

"Just feed a litre† into the reservoir of this handy 2kg acme fusion generator and the p-p fusion will generate enough energy to power your acme anti-gravity mattress for the whole night"*

† units translated to earth units

*real alien campers think this is cheating

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I'm gonna go with life extension....aaagh, but I want a torchdrive...:wacko:

Just imagine what someone could do if they lived for three hundred years. You could grow up normally, work in one field for 60 years, and then retire. Then you'd go back to college to learn a new field, and repeat the cycle. We'd create a world of polymaths.

Of course, that depends on how the life extension works. Does it slow down mental development long enough that you can learn new skills at 100? Or does it not? If it doesn't, that means you'd be stuck in the same field, doing the same things for 300 years... I think I'll take the torchdrive.

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My wife was shoulder-surfing last night, and she had a great point: All you folks wishing for life extension, make sure you word your wish very carefully. If you think Medicare is in bad shape now, wait until everyone is a senior citizen for 240 years. Might want to add fully-automated robotic medicine to the list too.

7 hours ago, tomf said:

My parcel contains an alien camping power generator.

"Just feed a litre† into the reservoir of this handy 2kg acme fusion generator and the p-p fusion will generate enough energy to power your acme anti-gravity mattress for the whole night"*

† units translated to earth units

*real alien campers think this is cheating

mr-fusion-replica.jpg&ehk=qZoxzD8c9tKto3KgLNH%2BaXJybteZPLzVvNaZb7Qj9is=&risl=&pid=ImgRaw

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