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von Neumann probe

Yes, human race will probably build it's own von Neumann probe

Human race might eventually reach a state where our contemporary problems are practically completely solved - problems such as pollution, lack of clean energy, lack of drinking water, lack of production capacity&raw materials and lack of agricultural production..This sounds maybe overtly optimistic but I still believe there are good changes to achieve this. I have wrote something about this here.


What will human race do then? I don't believe they just relax - I rather believe they start to solve problems that wete neglected before. - and I believe it is - it will have plenty of time for eliminating risks that were previously considered impossible to prevent, too small to be taken seriously, or weren't considered at all.


There will be also time and resources for our scientific curiosity.


On this chapter I will consider the use of vnp both as protection against hazards and as a tool for gathering scientific information.


Protection against hostile civilizations



A tool for gathering information


While I consider the security aspect as the most obvious reason to build von Neumann probes, it doesn't exclude a scientific aspect. While our probes will be out there searching for aggressive von Neumann probes they can simultaneously

Protection against meteorites


An impact event caused by the collision of a large meteoroid, asteroid, or comet (bolides) with Earth could cause severe destruction. Depending of the size of a bolide, the result could be even a extiction of a human race. Spaceguard is an effort to track big bolides heading for Earth. There are two problems however. First one is that right now we don't have any tested and realiable mean to change the course of a bolide. Second one is unreliability of our detection methods: some of the bolides are detected too late or not at all.


If we had millions of von Neumann probes in the vicinity of Earth they could give us protection either automatically or semiautomatically. After one of the probes has detected potentially dangerous bolide, a large number of probes would be used to "push" the object to a different course. If that is impossible, the object could be destroyed with suitable weapons.


Other uses


Von Neumann probes could be used also for "local" tasks in our Solar system.


Every star has a limited lifespan, including the Sun. In 5–6 billion years, it will enter a red giant phase, its outer layers expanding as the hydrogen fuel in the core is consumed and the core contracts and heats up.


However, it has been suggested that the lifetime of the sun could be prolonged with star lifting. In this manner a civilization could control the rate at which its star uses fuel, optimizing the star's power output and lifespan to its needs. That would require building of one or more megastructures. The most efficient way to build them would be von Neumann machines: the robots would be manufactured automatically somwehere in Solar system and then sent to work as tools for the project


And if we ever needed to add more "fuel" to Sun, von Neumann probes might be used for searching for and collecting material and delivering it to Sun. The source could be for example some "useless" star nearby.


We might also need more living space





What is von Neumann probe

Von Neumann probe is a hypothetical robotic space probe. It is programmed to search space for raw materials and energy in order to build copies of itself. It can be considered as a mechanical bacterium or virus. Besides self-replicating, von Neumann probes will execute tasks they are programmed to do. You can read more about von Neumann probe on Wikipedia.