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Fractal Cosmos Tech Timeline


(Michael Hrenka) #1

This is the official thread for the technological developments within Fractal Cosmos. It needs some preliminary reasoning:

No hard technological Singularity

Developing new technologies is assumed to be extremely hard within Fractal Cosmos. Hyperexponential growth of our capabilities to develop new technologies through artificial general intelligence (AGI), increasing speed of computation, and expansion into space is more or less matched with an equally hyperexponential growth of the difficulty of unlocking the next technology level.

First half of the 21st century: Solid progress, but no explosion

We are currently within a huge biotech boom. Moore’s law is tapering out. It will be revived by the transition to civilization system D.

AGI is developed towards the mid of the 21st century, but turns out to be not as extremely powerful as expected at first.

Second half of the 21st century: Pre-superintelligence on a leash

Technological progress within the late 21nd century is sped up by the creation of artificial general intelligence, but not nearly as much, as would be possible, because AGIs are generally rigorously suppressed by peacenets. This general suppression is ineffective only in extremely hard to conquer places like on the surface of Venus, which is exactly where the breakthrough towards system V happens.

22nd century: Asymptotic slope towards a technological maximum

By unleashing the power of superintelligence in the early 22th century, technological progress can take off in earnest, and reaches a technological maximum at the end of the 22th century. It’s so quick, because it’s superintelligence that does the research. It’s so slow, because it requires research projects on astronomical scales to unlock the final secrets of the cosmos.

Tech levels

The maturation of technologies is classified with a star system:

  • *: Invention / no practical use
  • **: Prototypes / experimental use (< 1% of population)
  • ***: Development / niche use (< 10% of population)
  • ****: Maturity / mainstream use (about 50% of population)
  • *****: Perfection / ubiquitous use (> 80% of population)

“populations” means “global” population. While some technologies may be ubiquitous in the richest regions, they may be hardly used in poorer reigions. The mobile phone is an example of a technology that surprisingly quickly reached maturity.

Sources of inspiration

I’ve used parts of the timeline of my sci-fi scenario Netec 2045 to make this timeline a bit richer and more interesting.

Now for the tech timeline

2020s

  • Autonomous cars: **
  • VR takes of: ***
  • AI based on artificial neural networks starts disrupting lots of human occupations: ****
  • First experiments with reputation economies: **
  • Collective intelligence networks enable humans to collaborate in unprecedented ways: **

2030s

  • Autonomous electric cars become mainstream in richer countries: ***
  • Blockchain based currencies get adopted by some national governments: ***
  • Reputation economies are used to great advantage by the avantgarde: ***
  • Quantum computers are used by secret services for hacking purposes: ** - ***
  • Fringe groups use DIY gene augmentation: **
  • Humanoid robots start getting used in affluent places for all kinds of work: ***
  • Simple DNA nanobots start being used in medicine: ***
  • 3D printers become useful enough to print lots of complex everyday items: ***

2040s

  • First attempts to upload human minds end in “interesting” failures: *
  • First successful attempts at creating AGI: **
  • Peacenets get pushed as solution to the AI control problem: **
  • Cybernetic augmentations start becoming a trend in wealthier countries: ***
  • Atomically precise manufacturing is used by wealthy organisations: **
  • Quantum computers start getting used more widely: ***
  • Plasmonic chips continue Moore’s law: ***
  • Genetic germline augmentation used regularly by certain nations: ***
  • Some people experiment with technological telepathy networks: **
  • Longevity research makes decisive breakthroughs: ***
  • Asteroid mining get started: **
  • First Mars colonies: **

2050s

  • AGIs become cheap and useful enough to steal lots of (the remaining) jobs: ***
  • Uploading sometimes kinda works, still with huge problems: **
  • First Venus colony: **
  • Longevity escape velocity is reached: *** - ****
  • Nanobots are rather useful now: ***
  • Nuclear fusion becomes economically competitive to some other sources of energy: **

2060s

  • Self-replicating nanobots get introduced, regulated, and deployed: ****
  • Miniaturized advanced atomically precise manufacturing “replicators” are a thing now: ***
  • The first big space habitats get built: **
  • AGIs become fully anthropotent, but get seriously hampered by peacenets: ****
  • Uploading becomes a kinda reasonable option: ***
  • Serious genetic augmentations become mainstream: ****
  • Neural enhancements help humans to become cyborgs who are kinda on par with the simpler AGIs

2070s

  • Aging can be reversed easily: *****
  • Nanobot swarms (utility fog) become a plague, umm, I mean widespread: ****
  • Nuclear fusion becomes the standard energy source in space: ***
  • Earth is fully united under a global and very efficient “post-capitalist” economic system ushering an age of universal abundance, using awesome replicators and stuff: ****
  • Big Helium-3 mining operations on the Moon

2080s

  • Uploading works reliably, with few remaining problems: ****
  • The CO2 concentration in Earth’s atmosphere begins to sink due to large carbon sequestration efforts and the end of the use of fossil fuels.
  • Advanced neural enhancements are commonplace in most places: ****

2090s

  • The AGIs on the surface of Venus turn into the first collective superintelligences: **
  • Dispensers, devices that can “project” matter beams to form any kind of object get introduced: **
  • Nuclear fusion becomes the default energy source nearly everywhere: ****
  • Jupiter’s atmosphere gets mined for Helium-3
  • Humanity reaches Kardashev type 1

2100s

  • Advanced telepathy protocols get developed that enable universal communication between all sentient beings: ****
  • Huge space habitats (with continent sized surface areas) get built in the asteroid belt
  • Mercury starts getting dismantled to get the raw materials needed for a Dyson swarm around the sun
  • Individual superintelligences become powerful: ***

2110s

  • First interstellar colonies: **
  • Materializers, devices that “magically” assemble matter into any kind of object, become a thing: **
  • Fusion technology is now good enough to fuse heavier elements like Helium, Carbon, Oxygen, and so on
  • Superintelligences rule supreme: ****

2120s

  • Breakthroughs in particle physics point to a way to create stable machines on the nuclear / femto scale: *
  • Neuroenhancements and universal telepathic communication protocols become as good as it gets; the metanet connects everyone and everything: *****
  • The matter in the asteroid belt has been mostly turned into machines and habitats

2130s

  • Femtomachines trigger a new technological revoloution
  • Start of the construction of the Apollo Array around the sun, a huge ring of mirrors and electromagnetic devices for using the sun as source of energy, and manipulating solar weather

2140s

  • Femtotech-based fusion replaces other fusion technologies
  • Quantum supracooling enables the construction of permanent structures within the sun

2150s

  • Mercury has been fully dismantled
  • To get even more matter, feeding beams from the sun transmit matter to the outer reaches of the solar system

2160s

  • Teleportation technology (rapid demateralisation and remateralisation) now works on human scale: **
  • First artificial black holes (of the “Kugelblitz” type) are created by the Apollo Array, and the complementary Eos Array, and Hephaestos Array

2170s

  • Attometer scale machines / “quark machines” work now
  • Matter-energy conversion technology starts making nuclear fusion look inefficient: **
  • Universal Value System conjecture is put forward by researchers from Alpha Centauri

2180s

  • First glimpse into ways to make Planck-scale machines work: *
  • Advanced manipulation of dark matter becomes routine
  • Matter-energy conversion tech becomes surprisingly effective: ***

2190s

  • Plack-scale tech works and rocks everything else
  • Matter-energy conversion tech is mainsteam and replaces fusion is most places: ****
  • Proof of Universal Value System theorem by researchers from Sirius
  • “Humanity” reaches Kardashev type 2

2200s and beyond

  • Technological perfection of about everything

Future timeline
(João Luz) #2

OK, in general, I think this is a pretty good timeline. Good job!

Now, just a few things…

Why would someone even try this in the 30s? I mean, they aren’t even close to true AGI yet!

Could you elaborate on that? What exactly do you have in mind? Governments forcing AIs to join a Peacenet? That sounds like a pretty good idea.

Actually, I’d like to delay the invention of these things for a few decades, if that’s OK with you of course :grin:

It’s just that I’m planning on having something like that be the invention of the “Wizard King” (I I’ve told you about that…) that gives the Exaltation and System V a technological edge in the 2110s and 2120s


(Michael Hrenka) #3

Ok, given that the human brain might be “unnecessary” complex, getting uploading to run properly might be a bit trickier than getting simple forms of AGIs to work. So, I’ve delayed uploading technology by about a decade.

Yes, AIs would be forced to join peacenets to render them harmless to humanity. It’s an idea that might just work, but might hamper the freedom of AIs seriously, if the peacenets demand serious restriction to the power and influence of AGIs.

I’ve delayed introduction dispenser and materializer technology by a decade each. Maturity of those technologies would be reached even later. The ethereal materializers used for example in

for teleportation purposes are pretty much the pinnacle of that technology. The materializers of the early 22nd century are not nearly as fast, effective, and invisible as those.


(Samantha Atkins) #4

After AGI and after cheap AGI in 2050 on the timeline I don’t think much of the rest makes much sense.

  1. AGI and especially cheap AGI means humans are not in control;

  2. AGI in space would be very unlikely to want to be in some planetary gravity well.

Also medical nanobots are actually very close right now and will not need to wait until 2020 for simple forms.

Autonomous cars are also very close and it is unlikely except for legal reasons that they will be put off until 2020s.

We already have widespread collaborative intelligence networks. See many a social side devoted to tech subjects, opensource projects, wikipedia, etc.

Autonomous cars will be mainstream a decade earlier than the above at least.

Blockchain has scaling problems. Great idea but needs better implementation to scale.

Quantum computers will be used for many purposes by 2020.

I doubt the DIY gene hacking. That business is very delicate not only in the detailed tech but in understanding enough of the genome to decide what to hack that might actually be an improvement. Pretty big science scale of effort needed.

3D printers are already that useful. Just not so widely used.

I think AGI is a decade later than I expect it in real life. I think we will have AGI in 2030s at latest.

Peacenets are would work against all initiation of force but don’t have a lot to do with AGI. I don’t see any reason they would slow it down at all.

APM is nearly doable now (no major scientific advances needed, just detailed engineering) .

Plasmonics are in use in electronic devices today in at least a limited way.

Germline tweaks to combat genetic diseases will happen far earlier than 2040s.

Asteroid mining starts in my estimation in 2020s.

If AGI exists before it will not take until 2050s to be doing many jobs.

Why a Venus colony again? For humans? The AGIs won’t care for it much.

Who is going to regulate the nanobots? Hopefully not relatively dumb humans.

Utility fog is a somewhat larger than nano sized bot. But cool.

Why wait until 2070 for space habitats if you have this good AGI and can tackle Venus no less? Makes no sense to put off space habitats until 2070s given the other stated and implied capabilities.

There is not “post-capitalism”.

He-3 mining makes not so good sense either given mastery of solar implied along the way. Even with He-3 based fusion mining it and shipping it from the moon is not optimal.

Doesn’t make sense to wait until 2080s for neural enhancements or that we wouldn’t be far beyond much worry about climate change.

AGIs on the surface of Venus WILL NOT work. Checkout out the surface conditions.

Why would you need a “matter beam” with nanotech assemblers in hand?

For many apps don’t need artificial fusion in inner solar system where much energy can be gathered for nearly free from the central huge fusion reactor. Need it for more concentrated energy applications such as spacecraft.

Why would I put my space habitats so far from the aforementioned free energy source?

Once AGI at human level is real it isn’t going to take any 40 years to become powerful.


(Michael Hrenka) #5

No. AGIs are held under control by other AGIs in distributed networks of mutual surveillance. This approach can possibly work for quite some time. And in this sci-fi scenario it does.

Usually that would be true. The exception to that is Venus, because it’s a place that can be defended quite effectively. In outer space, defending yourself against incoming attacks is relatively hard.

You lack a realistic cynicism about the incredible slowdown of medical progress due to regulatory frameworks that require lengthy admission procedures. Someone will find a reason why nanobots are dangerous, and then funding for that technology will remain too low to allow for real breakthroughs.

The legal and societal reasons are exactly the point why our rate of progress is as slow as it is right now.

Sure, but I merely see those as precursors to the well-structured collective intelligence networks that are to come, and that will blow away most other forms of organizations.

Quantum computers are used for many purposes already, but breaking encryption is not yet one of those. That will maybe have to wait until we have truly powerful general purpose quantum computers. How long that will take, is a bit of a wildcard.

You are being too “rational” about this. Many people will see the promise and try to augment their genes anyway. Whether they will be successful or not, is not the point.

Yes, but the width of use is something I strongly consider in this timeline. See the different “star ratings” for that.

I would agree. The Fractal Cosmos timeline is held deliberately conservative from a Singularitarian point of view. It’s a scenario in which progress takes much longer than Singularitarians would expect it, but much faster than the average Joe or even futurist would expect it.

The reason is that at first, the idea of peacenets will be abused by humans scared of the dangers of AGI for political purposes (to keep AGIs down). Otherwise, you would be right.

A lot of things are doable now, but aren’t done, because reasons. Economics, politics, and human stupidity are typical reasons why we don’t do many things that we could do.

Hmm, right. The same is true for photonics. But we’re still quite a bit from a true paradigm shift towards full implementation of those technologies.

Why haven’t they happened already?

Possible. But probably not on a truly disruptive scale, yet.

Theoretically true, but humans who want to maintain jobs for humans will try all political tools to keep AGIs from taking over everything. Granted, those efforts will eventually fail, but they might slow down the elimination of jobs until AGI becomes really cheap and widespread (like open source human-level AGI running on your smartphone / wearables / implants).

AGIs / peacenets

Ok, you are right about this point. I’ll transfer this point to the 2060s, because of the Mars / Venus craze in the 2040s and 2050s.

Hmm, that kinda sounds like a medieval aristocrat proclaiming that there’s no “post-feudalism”. This seems to be at least partially a semantic problem: How is “capitalism” delineated? How different would an economic system have to be reasonably called “post-capitalism”. One would expect that there would be significant disagreement on this point way after the most critical transition points have been passed. So, in a sense you might be right. I’d like to frame the upcoming “network economy” as “post-capitalism”, at least once it’s sufficiently alien to our current concepts.

What’s a better alternative for a good energy source in the outer solar system, where solar energy is not very abundant?

Yeah, I’ll have to rethink these points. Perhaps Terrans would decide to saturate the atmosphere with CO2, so that you can easily collect carbon from the air, and compensate the global warming with a solar shade at L1.

Yeah, pretty severe engineering problems. Need pretty crazy tech to survive those conditions for a long time. Effective cooling tech and thermal insulation is a must.

Nanotech assemblers need matter to assemble stuff.

Full agreement here.

Defiance. Independence. Putting a good distance between you and the rest of inner system civilization. Makes it more expensive for tax collectors to pay a visit to you :wink:

From a purely technological point of view that would be quite likely, but in the Fractal Cosmos scenario this kind of transhuman progress is strongly politically discouraged for many decades. Stupid conservative slightly cyborgized humans still wanting to maintain control, and stuff.


(João Luz) #6

Ok, so, I tried to respond to these cricticisms a few days ago but than I got bogged down in work and couldn’t get to it for a while. I’m sorry.

Thanks for your input @Samantha_Atkins1 we really appreciate it.

Before we get to anything, let me just say that the reason why progress is “slow” in this timeline is mostly because of me. Michael originally had more optimistic ideas, but I personally opposed things moving that fast for several reasons. The first was that I wanted to create some dramatic tension in Fractal Cosmos so that the final result, which is quite positive, would feel for meaningful, a hard-won utopia, if you will.

Apart from that, the other reason was that I’m not really on board with the whole Singularity thing. While I am pretty much convinced that AGI is possible and that we’ll have it this century, I don’t really think that things can move as fast as singularitarians think they will. We must remember that technology doesn’t exist in a vacuum, there are plenty of social and economic reasons that can affect its development. That’s why I think that it’s not realistic to expect things to move as fast as they thoerectically can.

Fractal Cosmos is not a story about how our benign AI overlords arrived to usher a new era of progress and prosperity for mankind. Instead, it is a story about how we, (trans)humanity, won that new era ouselves, by means of our own hard labour, dedication and inventiveness. AIs are a part of that, that’s for sure, but we want to paint a more complex picture, one that looks more reasonable and realistic while at the same time telling people that there is bright and marvelous future waiting for them, if they just care enough to fight for it.

Now, I support the changes that Michael has agreed to make. They seem reasonable to me.

Regarding some of your other cricticisms…

New developments in bioinformatics, as well as the CRISPR revolution in biotechnology are already making genetic engineering a lot simpler and more accessible to common people. There are already stories of college kids and artists changing bacteria genomes for all kinds of “funnny” purposes, from bioluminescence to the production of antidepressants. Yes, it’s true that’s genetics are messy, but we’re probably making more progress in that field that in any other at the moment. I think it’s just a matter of time before things like this become possible.

That said, I do admit that DIY biohackers may never get to do anything too important to actually improve the human condition, but you never know…

I find that very hard to believe considering the current pace of pretty much every space program. Space agencies frequently take more than a decade just to prepare a mission that consists of landing a small probe in some insignifficant little asteroid or comet. I know that many people are optimistic about Elon Musk and private space industry in general, but I doubt they’ll get to be that much more efficient than the United Sates, Russia, China, India and Japan combined.

In my opinion, it would take something like a Second Cold War to give a new impetus to space development, which we have in Fractal Cosmos.