Friday, 10 August 2012

Demetrian Economics And Ecology

In Poul Anderson's Harvest Of Stars (New York, 1993):

"A phone chimed. Every room had one; the colony was glutted with nanotech and assembly-complex wares, including robot workers. Kyra sometimes wondered if any commercial enterprise would evolve on Demeter." (p. 437)

Commerce might or might not evolve although it seems that there is no need for it. The founder of the Demetrian colony, Anson Guthrie, was born in 1970 (so he is 42 as I write), an era when he was able to express himself freely as an individual by becoming an entrepreneur and founding what eventually became an interplanetary company, Fireball.

Later, not the biological Guthrie but his personality downloaded into an artificial neural network controlling a succession of robot bodies is no less a free individual as it cooperates with hundreds of human colonists to terraform the extrasolar planet Demeter. Helped in this planetary enterprise by nanotech and robots, they need not revive commerce in order to produce and exchange, eg, buildings, furniture or telephones.

Accepting such artifacts as given, they can instead operate not economically but ecologically. The equivalent of a planetary nervous system emerges when chemically, electronically, photonically and mechanically interconnected symbiotic molecular structures with self-revising programs directed by a central artificial intelligence have had time to grow within exogenetically born organisms that had been transported across space as frozen seeds or genome maps, then seeded in soil ground from Demetrian rocks by nanotechnology.   

No comments: