A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

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Malakh Malakh's picture
A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

If a group of Infugees and AGIs banded together, pooled their resources, and bought a spaceship to turn into a mobile habitat, would a Bulk Carrier be the best option?

nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

Sure. That's basically the template for a scum barge, isn't it? You'd need to modify it, to increase its life support systems, radiation shielding and so on. But I assume a bulk carrier is designed to accept cargo in a modular fashion, so there's no reason to assume you can't just attach modular living cells.

Tyrnis Tyrnis's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

These are AGIs and infugees...unless they're planning to support themselves with trade, why bother with a bulk carrier? All you really need is a flying computer...no life support, no crew quarters, none of the accommodations that most ships have to keep meat bodies alive and healthy. You'd need enough storage space for your maintenance robots and a handful of shared synthmorphs for when you need to actually instantiate as something other than an infomorph. Also important is some method of escape should the ship be damaged/destroyed -- off-ship backups, a deal with a hab somewhere to accept egocasting refugees, or a bunch of lifepods filled with Spares.

If they don't have enough resources for a custom ship built for a bunch of infomorphs rather than a crew sleeved in biomorphs or synthmorphs, speed would be more advantageous than size, so they'd be better off with something like a fast courier -- on the off chance the ship runs into trouble, then they could outrun the danger.

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

I agree with Tyrnis; a bulk carrier would have to be gutted and refitted to get rid of unnecessary things like a command deck, crew quarters, life support, etc. Far more efficient is a cheap little hab out in, say, the asteroid belt, which can power itself off local resources. No life support needed, just a power generator or three, some shielding, and storage bays for robots.

If you're going to go live out in the void with no particular need for a large vehicle, a fast courier ship is your best bet. With an anti-matter courier ship, you might even have the advantage of a "Get Out Now" plan to fly to another star system in the event the TITANs return at sub-luminal speeds. With no squishy organic bodies to deal with, one solar system is really as good as any other.




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Malakh Malakh's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

nezumi.hebereke wrote:
Sure. That's basically the template for a scum barge, isn't it? You'd need to modify it, to increase its life support systems, radiation shielding and so on. But I assume a bulk carrier is designed to accept cargo in a modular fashion, so there's no reason to assume you can't just attach modular living cells.

I think a Scum Barge is much larger if the Durability ratings are any indication. I chose the Bulk Transport template over the Standard Transport because it has less life support. We are talking about Infomorphs and AGIs after all. :)

Tyrnis wrote:
If they don't have enough resources for a custom ship built for a bunch of infomorphs rather than a crew sleeved in biomorphs or synthmorphs, speed would be more advantageous than size, so they'd be better off with something like a fast courier -- on the off chance the ship runs into trouble, then they could outrun the danger.

The big disadvantage with a Fast Courier is the very thing that gives it the advantage of speed; anti-matter engines. Anti-matter in the setting is expensive.

Ideally they would have a ship built to specifications, but I think it more likely they'll go for a modern, but cheap, alternative.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

I would go for a bulk carrier. It has working, reliable power and cooling systems enough for even extravagant needs if you don't need to accelerate hard. It is mobile, which is useful to avoid regions of the system where politics is going badly. It doesn't need expensive antimatter. I would be that many models have standardized spare parts you can get as opensource these days.

Retrofitting it is easy: the old crew and command modules can be left in and control routed to whatever living spaces you add. If there are no biomorphs onboard life support can be scuttled, but I would bet that there are some mercurials that like gardening, keeping pets or running biolabs.

The biggest worry might be outside attacks if it looks like a mobile server farm. Better stock up on some good skyscanners, a few point defenses and a few deterrent missiles. And, of course, good software security (fortunately many AGIs tend to regard updating security like humans regard knitting).

Extropian

root root's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

root@A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat


If I was a group of infolives and AGIs making a habitat, I would go for a "dust" cloud of nanocomputers. I think I would still have the spaceship full of computing resources and all of the supplies we used for gathering raw materials to repair, upgrade, and trade, but I would keep the majority of my population "in the cloud". The distributed cloud of computers is much, much harder to kill than a ship, and its range is limited by the amount of latency the infolives are willing to put up with.

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Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

Make sure you have laser link communication, so an EMP doesn't disperse the cloud. Also, note that if the ship needs to change course the cloud will drift onwards.

Extropian

root root's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

root@A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat


Arenamontanus wrote:
Make sure you have laser link communication, so an EMP doesn't disperse the cloud. Also, note that if the ship needs to change course the cloud will drift onwards.

I was considering massive redundancy as a method for handling course changes. If the cloud keeps going off in (x,y,z) while the ship goes in (x',y',z'), the ship can just keep pumping out clouds of the chips. If more than one ship was doing this, the routes between more routinely traveled habs would have a nice datapath without the pain of having to load all of the signal power at one end.

I guess it would all depend on the relative scales involved.

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Malakh Malakh's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

I don't remember which book it was, but there was a mention of an abandoned TITAN project that looks like a giant crystalline brain or some sort and I was thinking that that would be a cool thing to run with for the group in the future as they get more resources.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

Malakh wrote:
I don't remember which book it was, but there was a mention of an abandoned TITAN project that looks like a giant crystalline brain or some sort and I was thinking that that would be a cool thing to run with for the group in the future as they get more resources.

You are likely thinking of the Iapetus Matrioshka brain (which presumably is just spherical and layered; see my old paper on building such structures here: http://www.transhumanist.com/volume5/Brains2.pdf ).

Trying to look like a TITAN artefact is about as stupid as dressing up like a suicide bomber for fun.

Note that you might not need that much space for your servers: they are not that big. Consider the decription of Glitch. If you really want to have enormous computing resources, then you better hope nothing evil starts infesting them - there is a reason large mainframes are distrusted. A PC in my campaign managed to coax *Firewall* into consulting for him so that his mainframe/infugee hab design was secure against easy TITAN/exsurgent takeover.

Extropian

Malakh Malakh's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

Er... No, not look at it. That would be stupid.

Now that I think more about it, the setting does frown upon super computers. I don't see servers evolving to look like crystalline brains either...

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

Arenamontanus wrote:
Trying to look like a TITAN artefact is about as stupid as dressing up like a suicide bomber for fun.

Dressing up as a suicide bomber at a banquet held by the IDF for survivors of suicide bombings.




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King Shere King Shere's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

I think a Space Safety Convention might exist in "civilized" space, that promts onboard life support. SOLAS but in Space. depending on size of ship & jurisdiction it would require what some would see as redundant systems, or sparse. ranging from a required emergency bubble to lifesupport systems for flats.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Convention_for_the_Safety_of_Life_at_Sea



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Malakh Malakh's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

I was actually thinking of retaining the life-support capabilities of the Bulk Carrier not because of a safety convention, but more on a "duty to rescue" principle.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

"Duty to rescue" probably doesn't *require* you to have suitable habitats onboard (what about saving suryas?) and modern enforcement is likely spotty - only the Jovians might insist on non-stack based rescue.

But it is still a practical touch: compared to the rest of the ship the habitable area is small and light, it can be used for other things and it would look very nice if the mercurials *could* rescue someone properly or take biomorph passengers.

Extropian

CodeBreaker CodeBreaker's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

Plus Duty to Rescue would only require that you can save them, you don't have to keep them particularly comfortable. A cornucopia machine fitted with spacesuit blueprints, a couple of tanks of an air substitute (maybe a layer of ice shielding for your server farm that you can siphon off of, plus a tank of added chemicals), and a maker for food and you are all set. Much cheaper than keeping an entire area pressurised and habitable.

As an aside. Why would they want to? Would it not be much easier to just piggyback your way onto one of the already present habitats that traverse the system? I am sure a Scum hab would be more than happy to take on some extra souls, especially those that take up very little physical space while outputting a fair amount of potential labour.

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Malakh Malakh's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

CodeBreaker wrote:
As an aside. Why would they want to? Would it not be much easier to just piggyback your way onto one of the already present habitats that traverse the system? I am sure a Scum hab would be more than happy to take on some extra souls, especially those that take up very little physical space while outputting a fair amount of potential labour.

Why would transhumanity want to form exclusive social units? It's "trans"human nature to seek social interaction with beings you are comfortable with.

Yerameyahu Yerameyahu's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

I dunno if I understanding the point there. You don't really interact with people you don't choose to, and that goes triply for (non-slave) infomorphs. They fit in tiny little computers (single credit cards) and live literally in their own little world(s ).

It does seem odd to have a whole ship/hab/colony for noncorporeals. Not impossible at all, nor illogical, but inefficient if we're literally talking about a standard ship or hab.

Malakh Malakh's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

When I read that there were such habitats I became intrigued about the whole concept. The more I read about Infomorphs and AGIs the more intrigued I became.

Infomorphs and AGIs have one big weakness; their egos need to be housed in a server. Destroy the server and the ego is gone. If I were in their place, why would I want my server to be easily accessible? More so if I feel that I'm discriminated against or have spent the last 10 years or so as a slave. Makes sense to band together with other like minds (pun intended).

Yerameyahu Yerameyahu's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

Yes, but if you want to get technical, everyone's ego is just housed in a vulnerable server: biomorph, synthmorph, or other. :) My question wasn't 'why would they want a refuge?', but instead, 'why does their refuge need life support, internal volume, etc.?'

Malakh Malakh's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

Ah. I misread your question then.

It's more a matter of resources than need. I figured it was cheaper and easier to get a "standard" ship rather than one made to specifications. Perhaps later the colony can have a custom craft made, but at the start I'm pretty sure they have to make some compromises. I just have to add that my idea is for the habitat to have been made in the last year or so.

Yerameyahu Yerameyahu's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

Ah, cool. It's the 'make do with what's available' future. :)

nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

Yerameyahu wrote:
I dunno if I understanding the point there. You don't really interact with people you don't choose to, and that goes triply for (non-slave) infomorphs. They fit in tiny little computers (single credit cards) and live literally in their own little world(s ).

It does seem odd to have a whole ship/hab/colony for noncorporeals. Not impossible at all, nor illogical, but inefficient if we're literally talking about a standard ship or hab.

Well you do need some physical manifestation for the server. The ideal size for acceleration, fuel use and price would be very small with a large shield against impacts, and a shield to protect from radiation from the engine. That ship isn't listed though.

But then, the question is, what are your actual requirements? It must be safe and independent. You don't need it to be fuel efficient or accelerate well unless you plan on doing a lot of travel. But infomorphs don't need to travel; they can egocast for less. So then we have the remaining necessity of price. If we're looking at ships large enough to travel across the solar system (maximizing independence), the most bang for your buck is probably an old frieghter, smaller the better. The freighter has other advantages. Its mass already acts as shielding from collisions. It's large enough to store redundant servers spaced apart, and to shield the engines. Its mass also confers more efficient heat dissipation than a smaller ship, permitting more calculations per second. Finally, you can actually do something with a ship like that. The small ship above is only a money sink. A freighter can actually ship freight, so it can pay for itself, while still minimizing physical contact with other people.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

An infomorph-crewed freighter might also be ideal for transports in the outer solar system. Even with the powerful engines of EP it takes a long while to get anywhere outside the orbit of Jupiter. Biomorphs would likely get cabin fewer after a few months, while the infomorphs are still partying in the simspaces. So I can see a definite economic niche to transport stuff (like habitat seeds, hightech equipment or frozen biological samples) to outlying communities for the transport/habitat. Sure, a trip may take two years, but during that time the ship is far from anywhere dangerous and it makes a decent amount of money when delivering its cargo.

Extropian

Yerameyahu Yerameyahu's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

Great point, nezumi. I forgot about the option of making a living (forgot, in fact, that making a living is even necessary in EP, esp. for infomorphs). :)

Malakh Malakh's picture
Re: A Spaceship as a Mercurial Habitat

Wow nezumi. That's a very good post. Thank you.