It will always be a lot cheaper to send a radio signal to an interstellar destination than any kind of physical presence. Our discussion the other day on the difficulties of interstellar travel left me pondering this, something that is well known to astronomers and other thinkers in this area.
Given sufficiently advanced technology, the only thing that needs to physically be sent is a small machine, perhaps microscopically small, that has the knowledge to bootstrap a factory, building first a receiving antenna, then any new machines necessary for exploration or colonization. It might find the raw materials for this in a local version of our asteroid or Kuiper belt.
“People”, or more accurately copies of their minds, could be transmitted after the fact. Of course, this presupposes that mind uploading is something that is possible. If it’s not, then interstellar travel may be something that only belongs to humanity’s machine successors.
It could certainly mean that our machines would precede us, perhaps by centuries or millennia, since they can endure heavier acceleration, more radiation, and decades or centuries long voyages much more hardily than we ever could.
Once established, the cheapest way to “travel” to an interstellar destination would be to be transmitted to it. That may always be true.
- How far away is the closest extraterrestrial civilization? (selfawarepatterns.com)
- Matt Damon discusses ‘Interstellar’ saying it’s ‘just another big awesome Chris Nolan movie’ (theglobaldispatch.com)
- F1 mashed up with Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ trailer is just awesome (kinja.roadandtrack.com)
- 2014 in digital: how close are we to the sci-fi future we were promised? (globetrotterbaladeo.wordpress.com)