8: Intergalactic spreading of intelligent life and sharpening the Fermi paradox (Armstrong & Sandberg, 2012)

Link post

Will’s quick summary/​hot takes:

Tl;dr: you should watch this PBS Spacetime video, “Should We Build a Dyson Sphere?”, rather than reading the Armstrong and Sandberg paper.

(Note: I’ve given this an 8 rating because the related and linked PBS Spacetime video is very good, and I’d like people to see it. The Armstrong and Sandberg paper alone, I’d give a 3.)

  • The most novel part of this paper is the part on disassembling Mercury to build a Dyson swarm (pp. 11-13)

    • (Armstrong and Sandberg note that this part draws from futurist Robert Bradbury’s unpublished analysis of planetary disassembly)

    • A better overview of disassembling Mercury, building a Dyson swarm, and, importantly, what comes after the Dyson swarm, can be found in “Should We Build a Dyson Sphere” (O’Dowd, 2016)

      • Spoiler for the latter point: Dyson swarm → black hole engines, this is a much better route to becoming a Kardashev type III civilization than straight-up Dyson swarms; Armstrong and Sandberg don’t consider black hole engines

        • (Note: the current best design proposal for a black hole engine is the kugelblitz)

    • The main critique of Dyson swarms I’ve seen is around the time needed to build one, see Knapp (2012)

      • But if you go down to “Update 2” at the bottom of this article, you’ll see that Knapp retracts the main thrust of their article

        • And the bit about “moving the Dyson swarm out to 1 AU” being the new challenge, now that the main thrust of the article has been rebutted, is not relevant if the plan is to go from Dyson swarm to black hole engines

          • I notice that outside of PBS Spacetime, people (including futurists) don’t seem to talk about black hole engines as a thing that’d come after the Dyson swarm (e.g., this Armstrong and Sandberg paper, Bradbury’s matrioshka brain)

            • I’m pretty confident this is an oversight as opposed to these people considering black hole engines and just deciding they’re a bad idea

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