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Tech levels for my sci fi world?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Maximum7, Jul 1, 2019.

  1. Maximum7

    Maximum7 Dreamer

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    I’m making tech levels for my sci fi world. It starts with the

    Post-Information Age, which is around (2030-2050)

    Next is the Fusion Age (2050-2100)

    Next is the Nano Age (2100-2150)

    Next is the Age of Ascendence (2150-2200)

    Finally we have the Omnipotent Age (2200+)

    For each age I need an entry(tries) for Transportation, Medicine, Weapons, Power source, Entertainement, Espionage, Agriculture, Construction, Robotics and Computers.

    Can anybody help me? I’m looking for creative ideas.
     
  2. chrispenycate

    chrispenycate Sage

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    Hmm. How big the fusion plant - multimegawatt or compact vehicle? Is the nanotech self replicating, or manufactured to order? I feel the timescale is too short to get the 'age' labels - after all, all the previous eras are going to be still around and important as the later ones mature, not like the neolithic oozing into the bronze age (or even steam being replaced by infernal combustion).

    I don't believe in omnipotence - I'm a defrocked mathematician, and an asymptotic approach to infinity will never get there :).

    So, which wave would you like me to attack? It would seem a trifle egocentric to try for all of them.
     
  3. Maximum7

    Maximum7 Dreamer

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    Just the nano age. I can probably do the other ages if I sit down and brainstorm.
     
  4. chrispenycate

    chrispenycate Sage

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    All right, scrappy, disorganised and in need of a good edit, but contains some ideas. Chrispy.
    Tech levels for my sci fi world?

    Post-Information Age, which is around (2030-2050)
    I don't believe in post information, without an apocalypse. As long as mankind is developing new there will be data pouring in, being stored, being distributed, even if more restrictively, to prevent idiots like me working out how to build an H-bomb on the cheap. Data acquisition might slow a little (probably not) in a dystopic future, but mainly it would be a change of focus, rather than quantity.

    Next is the Fusion Age (2050-2100)
    Ever since I was born - ever since the Bikini explosions in the late forties - commercially viable fusion power has been 'about a decade away'. Long decade, wasn't it? While physics, both theoretical and experimental, is convinced of the possibility, engineering has not proved up to the conditions required, so far. I had an acquaintance, a researcher in CERN, who had built a working fusion reactor (based around a proton accelerator) Unfortunately the energy needed to control and contain the reaction was more than an order of magnitude higher than was generated, and that doesn't bode well for commercial applications)

    Important details it would be useful to define about a fusion reactor. Would it be an enormous, multi-gigawatt centre out in the desert, with power distribution through the cable'd grid, or could you build smaller units capable of being installed in vehicles (Peterbilts if not compacts) or in the basement of a private house? It gives quite different societies. And what would it require as fuel? Hydrogen is the commonest element in the universe, by a big margin, and is even widely available and cheap on Earth, not the most convenient environment for it. However, lower temperature fusion might require the heavier isotopes, and while deuterium is obtainable - at a certain cost, both in concentrating it out of ordinary hydrogen (osmotic filters?) presumably collected from electrolysing water, a nd that only a tiny fraction of Earth's water contains it. If we need lithium hydride (used in most modern hydrogen bombs) or even worse tritium (the twin-neutron isotope of hydrogen, which exists in solar wind, but is radioactive enough that almost none gets into the Earth's atmosphere, or Helium3, we're going to need a space industry to collect it from the van Allen belts or the surface of the moon… not going to be the cheap, widely available energy source we were promised.

    I love fusion as a solid, easily comprehensible advance, and if it's cheap enough (and there aren't too many terrorist organisations trying to work out how to turn it into H.bombs), it could just be theenergy source we're all waiting for, but it's not here yet.

    Next is the Nano Age (2100-2150)

    Next is the Age of Ascendence (2150-2200)
    With a shout? Or are we improving the. human race? With Mankind's present track record I'd expect the target supermen to be militaristic, of good (= rich) families, and paranoid

    Finally we have the Omnipotent Age (2200+)
     
  5. chrispenycate

    chrispenycate Sage

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    Nanotech
    Hardly my speciality, but some things are obvious. The problem of the fabrication of ultra-miniturised mechanisms is the precision of the tooling - even the wavelength of light is a limiting factor. Physics doesn't say we can't do it, only engineering - and engineering has a tradition of 'it's only because it's

    Transportation: has no real need of nanites. Oh, they'll crawl into the interstices, the way electronics is invading now, self-sealing fuel tanks, smart tyres that reconstitute themselves for the conditions, additional safety features, but it's all essentially cosmetic. , Medicine, Weapons, Power source, Entertainment, Espionage, Agriculture will be adapting continuously anyway, with or without nanites. I suspect pest control and disease control (without herbicides or insecticides) to be a major part of their influence, with possible continuous soil analysis, monitoring of animals' health. Construction - Self-building houses are only useful for complex structures, Robotics and Computers. Economy, class/caste distinctions, mining/raw material acquisition - this could be a major economic factor, if (say) extracting niobium from seawater became economically interesting. Or, in the inverse case of waste disposal, a trained robot that digested plastic. And these can be early products - a tenth of a millimetre square would be quite acceptable, against the Ångström units required for biological functions - they could be run on sunlight, or even chemical energy supplied by plastic bonds.


    Medical
    It's in medicine that the nanite is especially useful. Oh, I've no doubt that, when the research and development are done other uses will surface - read Michael Flynn's 'The Nanotech Chronicles' for some of the points they'll cross over with 'entertainment (my personal domain), and any technology leaks into every technology in time (remember when the laser was 'a solution looking for a problem'?). But almost all of the other potential uses, like eating plastics or extracting titanium, the absolute size is less critical, which makes life-form interaction the most challenging, and the most potentially

    Self replication
    Many nanotech stories assume nanotech will be self-replicating, itsy-bitsy Von Neumann machines scavenging their environment for raw materials to build more of themselves, in analogue to living systems DNA et al. While not impossible to achieve (and offering considerable advantages in difficult to access environments).

    Making the nanite self replicating adds a couple of orders of complexity. If you make a nanite factory with a production line, your central controller can be as big as you like, with a petabyte of data storage if that's useful - economy of instruction sets is only important at the very end of the manufacturing chain (unless you class 'test and inspection' under manufacture which, as an ex tester/inspector I prefer not to do. Always keep the competitive edge between the departments - there'll be fewer 'Oh, we can get by with that' incidents.)

    Biotech and nanotech will have so much in common, particularly involving final aims, that there are bound to be crossovers in the research, and competition for something to eat marine plastic. Both are working in the microscopic (even if you're designing a mammoth, the building blocks are cellular nuclei and genes. Encoding enough data into a space smaller than a cell will involve something a bit special in data-encoding, particularly as most nanomachines are mechanical rather than hybrid mech/chem/electro.

    Energy
    Whatever you do with nanotech - or any other technology, for that matter - you need energy transfer, and a store of energy. Batteries are impractical, to get a combustion system similar to living metabolism it would probably be easier to start with something alive - remember that the majority of a bacterium is handling nourishment and energy - almost entirely chemical - and it's only later in some quite complex eukarotes that you get specialisation, with some classes of cell being drip fed.
    I'm in favour of installing an inductive loop into each medical nanobot, and only powering them up when they are actually functioning. If the treatment for whatever is not required to be constant (as is true of just about every medical treatment apart from direct life support now, but this could change if continuous treatments didn't involve continuous observation.) If continuous, rather than putting your patient in a cabinet halfway between an MRI scanner and a low power microwave oven, and pumping power into him you could immobilise him in an emitting hospital bed, design a wheelchair that produces short-wave radio transmissions or even weave a suit (with batteries).
    For non-medical uses of nanotech (which seem less important to me, but I don't even have a smart phone, so am not specialised in finding extra uses for gadgets), you might, for instance, need them for self-sealing fuel tanks, or bodywork dent elimination, but it just doesn't feel as important.

    Grey Goo
    The standard horror theme for self-replicating nanotech is the ' loses control and converts everything into more of itself' scenario. More realistically all organic material (no reason a nice tetravalent like carbon can't be used as the basis for nanomachines, with diamond claws and benzine-ring gear wheels and buckyball castors) is broken down into a near fluid, consisting of trillions of invisibly small modules that have built each other out of available organic matter (I've also read about stone and iron doors also succumbing, but energy considerations render that extremely unlikely, or at least so time consuming as not to be dangerous). A straightforward 'things that man was not intended to know, they can't contradict me 'cause nobody actually knows' technique. It's not going to happen - easier to march in some soldier ants, which don't only already exist, they're quite a lot faster than nano.

    Sensory data
    They're blind, of course. Even if we'd got enough energy reserves to add a headlight they're far too small to hold an image. And I'm not certain it would be able to detect pressure changes and vibrations in that size, which probably cuts out dolphin-style echo location, too. Leaving us with touch and the chemical recognition, (smell, taste) and perhaps some thermotropism - about like a bacterium, actually. Which means that each family must be utterly specialised, hitting specific cancers, for an example, rather than comparing the entire genome to a predicted perfect one, eliminating all mutation. Even expecting speeds to be higher than electronic (which I don't really accept) imagine how much data would need to be encoded into each and every device. No, put in some that can recognise my prostate cancer, others that are specifics against particular viruses, other cellular mitosis products, cancers, imperfect copies, poisons - particularly cumulative ones like heavy metals, presently requiring chelating agents, scar tissue and tissue damage… you might well end up being given a 'shot' of as many different synthetic near-life forms every month as I take medication.
     
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