Distant Now Is Late But It Does Not Matter

“Clean up your room, now!”

Sound travels at 1 m/s in John Doe’s room. By the time John picks up the vacuum, the mom (she’s upset because of the unrelenting houseworks) will be much more furious than if physics were normal. Not to mention the fact that John takes his time to “Huh? Oh, okay!” his mom. He tends to be too immersed in his War of WorldCraft sessions.

That sums up my problem with playing an online shooter game, Le Courageus, with someone across the globe, as well as the problem of this miner/commander in Ganymede sending a voice call to the Secretary-General of the United Nations of the Earth in my favorite space drama TV show. Apparently, the voice chat took a whopping 20 minutes. My frustration should be trivial compared to this miner/commander—what was his name? It was definitely not Shepard.

Your “now” is some time in my past and my “now” is some time in your past—something in line about aliens looking at Earth would seeing dinosaurs. Information goes as fast as the medium allows. Lucky for John, sandal flies slower than light and sound.

Note to self: In case, sometime in the future, I develop an impulse to start light years-spanning space-faring empire, avoid a centralized government system. By the time, I finish going to the loo and then sign that one proposal among heaps of paperwork, that colony would have perished.

So I think it is pretty smart for them to have autonomy over their own planet’s corn, apples, oats, clean water, salt water, coal-based power generators, dishwashers, coffeemakers, software engineers, etc. Let them experience dealing with their own mother nature.

“How would you limit their autonomy? What if they develop an interstellar nuclear weapon and revolt against you?” A colleague asked.

That’s very easy to answer.

First of all, solve your corn problem before your nuclear problem; that is the supposed natural order of technological advancement, not the other way around.

Second, their “now” is some time in our past; by the time they have a pizza party to celebrate their release of Ballistae version 18.0.0 (despite a lot of entailing breaking changes and the already incoming customer complaints), we’ll already have this super-safe AI-assisted psionically-controlled laser-shooting missile interceptor swarm.

Some distant property is just not feasible to control, but assuming they survive, it doesn’t need much controlling either.

“Would you pre-equip them with some technology?”

Sure. Autonomy needs certain knowledge, technology, and tools. It must depart all at once to be able to function. Expensive, yes it is.

Assuming their brains will be similarly shaped to ours, I would like to add a criterion: a chance to experience growth. You see, the discovery of fire, gravity, computers, airplanes, chicken nuggets, etc. are quite the experiences. There’s something emotional to it, knowing how long they are to achieve. At least they can bring some history books with them in case they are bored.

“Speaking of information transmission, would you think that John and his mom understand each other better with a more effective communication mechanism?”

Now that you mention it–.

How a soul conveys a message to another is ridiculous. It hustles tremendously arduously.

Not that it has any other way, but it needs to light several neural pathways to first translate the message to a sonic format. Then it lights another set of neural pathways to move the sound wave-generating instrument (also called the mouth, the tongue, and the throat) to actually form the sonic format of the message.

The other part will also have to first listen. Some people, like John or me, might not be able to listen well because there’s a limit to our attention. That message, assuming that it is received intact, is then parsed into the receiver’s internal interpretation of the sound, which might or might not match the sender’s internal interpretation. Hopefully, it is the former. But the latter wouldn’t be so bad. I’ve found myself sometimes enjoying misheard lyrics videos.

If a faster channel exists, one with a huge bandwidth as wide as fiber optic cable, that’d be well appreciated. Imagine sending imagination and dreams right through. You won’t need to learn to paint or play piano.

But hey, at least one does not need to talk via protein exchange. One wrong type of protein and you’re foobar.