Matrioshka Brains

Matrioshka Brains (MB)1 are megascale computers constructed out of microelectronic and/or nanoscale components.  MB may be constructed as shells around a star (internally powered Matrioshka Brains: IPMB) or may be constructed independently of a star if large amounts of power are harvested from stars in other locations and beamed to the MB (externally powered Matrioshka Brains: EPMB).  A third variant, (self-powered Matrioshka Brains: SPMB) which generates power via controlled nuclear fusion or matter/antimatter reactions, is possible.

The two pillars on which the MB arch rests are the extensions of current engineering trends to the largest and smallest scales.  At the largest scale, in their initial stages, MB are limited by the mass and energy provided by individual solar systems.  At the smallest scale, MB are limited by our ability to assemble materials atom by atom.  The termsmegascale engineering and molecular nanotechnology are generally used to discuss these different perspectives. The union of construction methods at the small and large scale limits allows the optimal use of locally available energy and matter and is the distinguishing feature of Matrioshka Brains.

Megascale engineering has its roots in science fiction.  One of the first scientific examinations of megascale engineering was done by mathematician Freeman Dyson (1960) in which he discussed dismantling Jupiter to construct a shell around the sun to harvest all of its energy and provide a biosphere capable of supporting large numbers of people.  Writer Larry Niven addressed some of the problems of gravity in Dyson shells by changing the form of the biosphere from a shell to a rotating Niven Ring.  Other examples of megascale engineering exist in fictional literature but these are the most relevant for the discussion of MB.

Nanoscale engineering was first discussed  by Richard Feynman in 1959.  These ideas were extended by Eric Drexler in his 1981 PNAS paper and Engines of Creation. Much of the engineering basis for nanotechnology is documented in Nanosystems.  Progress in the development of nanotechnology continues and no serious challenges against its ideas have been produced in the last ten years (Merkle, 1998).  Estimates of its full scale development and deployment range from 10 to 30 years in the future.

Megascale and nanoscale engineering currently do not exist.  Megascale engineering results in the progression of trends in the engineering of large scale structures such as pyramids, oil tankers, suspension bridges, tunnels, sky-scrapers and rockets.  Nanoscale engineering results from trend progressions in microelectronic lithographies, micromachining, microvolume and combinatorial chemistry, biotechnology manipulation of genes and proteins, robotics and computer science.

It is paradoxical that many people more easily envision megascale engineering than nanoscale engineering.  The most logical explanation for this is that our senses are able to directly interact with megascale structures, while intermediaries such as atomic force microscopes or enzymes are required to sense and manipulate things at the nanoscale level.  It is important to remember that atomic scale pumps, motors, engines, power generation apparatus and molecular manipulators (enzymes) exist in every individual reading this document.  By mid-1998, the complete genomic DNA sequences (nanoscale programs) for more than 30 different bacteria and yeast (nanoscale assembly and replication machines) were known.  Nanoscale technology exists and is rapidly being domesticated by humans.

As has been pointed out by Dyson [19601968], Kardashev [1985,1988,1997], Berry [1974], and Criswell [1985], the progression of existing population and economic growth, power and mass management trends in our society will enable the construction of Matrioshka Brains using existing (non-nanoscale) technologies within at most a few thousand years. Nanoscale assembly per se is not required.  Current trends in silicon wafer production, if continued, would allow the production of sufficient microprocessors, of current primitive designs, to create a MB by 2250.  It would however require most of the silicon in the planet Venus as raw material. A MB built from such processors would have capabilities significantly less than the limits which would be available using nanoscale fabrication.  Even so, a computing machine built out of even these primitive components would have a thought capacity in excess of a million times the thought capacity of the 6 billion people now populating the planet!  A small fraction of this thought capacity devoted to extending engineering methods should in a brief period develop nanoengineering and assembly to its ultimate limits.


Folksonomies: intelligence extraterrestrial transhumanism computation

/science/physics/nanotechnology (0.354771)
/science/engineering (0.262688)
/technology and computing (0.207923)

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Nanotechnology (0.954502): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Names of large numbers (0.458871): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Nanoengineering (0.442863): dbpedia | freebase
Large-scale structure of the cosmos (0.426052): dbpedia
Nuclear fusion (0.421363): dbpedia | freebase
Dyson sphere (0.420145): dbpedia | freebase | yago

 Matrioshka Brains
Periodicals>Journal Article:  Bradbury, Robert J. (1997-2000), Matrioshka Brains, Retrieved on 2014-11-06
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: computation


    07 NOV 2014

     Matrioshka Brain Explained

    Matrioshka Brains > Summary > Matrioshka Brain Simplified
    Folksonomies: explanation
    Folksonomies: explanation