from the Malthus-had-a-point dept.
From Australia comes news of an easy, enjoyable way to play out various scenarios of human population growth. David Coutts has designed a game called 6 Billion which enables players to model exponential growth of human population in our solar system. Users can set their own timescales for scientific progress, population growth, and even sociological change. Sounds like a fun method to get a feel for exponential growth of population, which the designer correctly describes as "scary". Here's some background and history on the game. Read more for David's full post. David Coutts writes "I think about the colonisation of space all the time.I believe Kardashev got it right with his 3 levels for space-faring societies: K-1 societies utilize all the resources of their home planet. K-2 societies utilize all the resources of their home solar system, and K-3 societies utilize all the resources of their home galaxy. I designed a boardgame (see URLs below) on our transition from K-1 to K-2 society, from the perspective of exponential population growth. I think it unlikely that we will go from K-1 to K-3, without passing through the K-2 stage. Yet most Science-Fiction goes straight to K-3, without exploring the possibilities for our own backyard, the solar system. It's like trying to go from crawling to running, without learning to walk! For more information on my thinking please read the story of the design and production of 6 Billion, partly inspired by reading Engines Of Creation and also try my article on why I think my game is "realistic": Anyway, here are some thoughts on possible future nanotechnologies which may apply to our K-2 phase: 1. Carl Sagan, before the nature of Venus was known, proposed using microbal life to convert the atmosphere of Venus into an ocean. Using nanotechnology, could we not design a nanite which could do a similar job? The nanite could be far tougher than a microbe, designed to reduce the Venusian atmosphere to a liquid form (intitially still toxic). This would allow us to land – without being crushed by the atmosphere – on the dry bits of land (assuming non-even distribution of the liquid) and begin the process of colonisation. Later nanites could convert the liquid, perhaps with a dozens (hundreds?) of introduced asteroids, into something less toxic. 2. In EOC Eric Drexler discusses the spectre of the grey blob, consuming the world. Well, let's try it. Perhaps on a remote moon, perhaps Mercury (where the Sun's energy would provide a powerful external power source for nanites), or Venus again. Of course, we would want our grey blob to perform specific tasks, for example: a. Remodel the surface of Venus to look like Earth's continents (let's call it New Earth!) b. Carve out underground caverns on Mercury (after all, we ain't living on the surface!) c. Extract the permafrost from Mars, and warm the damn planet up! Kim Stanley Robinson has some fun ideas in his Mars series, but I don't think he thought about what programmable matter could do! 3. Much is made of the human inability to live in space for prolonged periods. Haven't those people read any books on nanotechnology? The stomach is nature's answer to the Meat Machine (or the Xmas Machine). However, in zero-gravity it doesn't seem to be able to stop our bones from losing calcium. Yes, we can use centrifugal force to provide artifical gravity. Or perhaps we could redesign our bodies to work and survive better in zero gravity. We need a better stomach, stronger bones, etc. Perhaps a combination of genetic engineering (which is a form of programming digital information into matter) combined with nanotechnology (which is also a form of programming digital information into matter) could do the job? I realise that these are distant (far-fetched?) technologies, but they will surely get us there quicker than NASA! http://www.bnbg.com.au/~bnbgames/6billion.htm http://www.discovergames.com/gamedesign.html http://www.bnbg.com.au/~bnbgames/6billionAdAstra.htm"
Test your theories of population in solar system
from the Malthus-had-a-point dept.