The Way to K-II …Update

The preprint I mentioned is available online (thanks to Brian Wang’s “Next Big Future” post) and it’s here:
Affordable, rapid bootstrapping of space industry and solar system civilization

More discussion is coming. One preliminary idea is that 100,000 teleoperated robots on the Moon could have a volunteer Army controlling them to help build the Solar System economy. The pay-off for all involved would be long-term energy/resource security – and potential wealth.

4 Replies to “The Way to K-II …Update”

  1. I think that the concept is on the right track but is considered in too theoretical a manner. Rather, it should be incorporated into the likely scenario going forward. For example, would NASA (or someone) do a single launch and then wait for 20 years for the rest to develop. Rather, it is more likely that what is being described will develop along sides efforts to expand humans presence beyond Earth orbit. So, here’s my scenario:

    When Falcon Heavy becomes operational (say 2-3 years from now), NASA will have a low-cost way of sending as much as 14 tons to the lunar surface. Initially, the landers will be able to deliver cargo but will not be considered safe enough to send astronauts (just like with the Dragon capsule). So, there will be a period in which there will be telerobotic set-up prior to human landing. But human landing will not wait long because it is so highly desired by several nations. When humans ride the landers to the lunar surface, the priority will be their own survival, but also the economic viability of the commercial operations will be important too. So the humans’ second most important job (after their own survival) will be the repair of the telerobots followed by the construction of the simple but bulky parts of the telerobots. So yes, the telerobotic workforce will expand dramatically, but not in an exponential manner since the growth will ultimately be limited by the deliveries of high-tech and finely manufactured parts and the people to maintain and build the robots. None-the-less, thousands of telerobots are entirely feasible. But self-replicating and especially autonomous systems will likely be developed a fair while later.

    As Earth-to-LEO launch costs are reduced (e.g. reusability) and with naturally reusable cis-lunar transportation, transportation costs for humans will be sufficiently (relatively) low-cost that the human lunar workforce will be able to expand considerably. The ratio between humans and machines will be something like 1:30 (wild guess!). The difficult-to-produce parts are generally low mass and so, in each 14-ton payload, there would be sufficient parts for hundreds of telerobots. So there will be thousands of teleoperated robots in an economically viable situation (I think) prior to partial or certainly full automation and certainly self-replication. I think that the model will be more like an automobile manufacturing plant. Could they be made self-replicating? Probably. But humans are cheap and flexible enough so that there won’t necessarily be sufficient economic incentives to develop full self-replication. Eventually it will happen but probably not for quite a while and in the meantime, a large amount of industrial infrastructure will be built.

    That’s my take.

  2. Just to tell you how much I am looking forward to your next post of the subject, I have sent you a donation. People who write valuable stuff like this should be paid for their work. Sadly, though, every web site I visit needs money.

    Your posts are often mind blowing and very much in sync with my brain. Thanks!

  3. Hi Warren & Doug,
    Doug, thanks for the discussion points. I think there’s a lot of sense in the idea that full self-replication won’t have a huge incentive – at least not while we think of good ways of putting people in the loop. I know I’d volunteer to live in space and I am sure many others would too.
    Warren, thanks for the donation! Every bit helps. I am working on another mind-blower in this series at present – Phil Metzger finally got back in touch and I am hoping for some discussion with him that I can share here.