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Last time I discussed aliens, the UNSC and the SPARTANs. But what about our most famous SPARTAN’s companion? What about Cortana, or better said, what about any Artificial intelligence? In the UNSC, it is common policy to put people in cryosleep in order to travel huge distances, is that even possible? And not to forget the namesake of the Halo Franchise, are huge structures like the Halo Array even possible to produce, technology notwithstanding? That will be the topic of this article.
So, what about those AIs? What is an AI exactly? An AI is not very different from organic life and it can be a topic of discussion whether or not an AI is alive or not. AIs in the Halo Universe are made out of human tissue (Cortana being the only exception) and are like clones of their creators. They can develop themselves into very different constructs, but they start out as a shell of a human being. Then they have to process all the data available to them, provided by humans, which can take, for AI’s processing speed, a very long time. This means that, even with all their information, they still preserve the human traits of their creator.
But what has this to do with whether or not AIs are possible here? A lot actually, programming an AI by hand would take way too long, would cost a lot of man-hours and thus be very costly. It is not improbable that people should look at the most cost-effective way. The closest we can come to this technology nowadays is the process of transforming the DNA code into digital information. How far is it from transferring DNA to transferring thoughts and memories with it? That I don’t know, but it will be a while before the first AI is supposed to be created.
So, the creation of an AI may be probable, but what about the processing power something like that would require? Again, we have to visit the past to begin to understand the future. How fast will computers be in 100 years, what about 500? Well, just look back at the computer the astronauts had aboard on their way to the moon back in the 60s. Did you know that computer had less processing power than that cell phone you are carrying around? That computer was by far the fastest they could create in such a small space back then, their components were just too big and ineffective. If such a drastic change can be achieved in 50 years, what can we expect from the future? Today’s fastest computers can achieve unbelievable high speeds, computing 100s or 1000s tasks every nanosecond (that is 0.000000001 seconds). Now it is easy to just continue the trend and expect a cell phone in the 2500s to have this computing capability, but physics has something to say about it.
We can already see the impacts of Quantum mechanics today; if you are building electrical devices at smaller and smaller scale, the smallest pieces will not work anymore. Why is that? I don’t want/can go too far into detail, but at such small scale, electrons will expose their quantum behaviour. Micro objects don’t behave at all like macro objects, they can go from one place to the other, without existing in the space between the two. This means that they will simply jump to a place where they are ‘not supposed to’ and thus preventing the transistor or whatever to carry its charge like its bigger brothers. Unless we somehow master this strange phenomenon, we stand no chance to keep micronizing everything to suit our needs.
Now I have shortly discussed the possibility of the production of AIs, what about the UNSC’s way of keeping soldiers during a long-distance travel? How possible is cryosleep?
The idea of freezing someone to later unfreeze is nothing new, people have been freezing themselves for years/decades now so they can resume their lives in the future. It is even a trend to only freeze in your head, with the idea behind it that, when the technology is so advanced to unfreeze someone without killing him/her, they could make a mechanical body for you as well. But there is a reason nobody expects it possible in their lifetime, because it is very difficult to freeze and unfreeze someone without lethal results. A biologist can so into further detail than me, but even if one could achieve a homogeneous freezing throughout the body, most, if not all, of that persons cells would rupture and die. As you know, water is one of the few chemicals that expands when frozen. All cells are mostly water and this would expand with the dropping of the temperature, but the ‘skin’ of the cell won’t expand. The result is the same as pumping too much air in a balloon, the cell will rupture and will die. Beside the lethality of cryosleep, it is a good idea to transport soldiers over a large distance. We will just have to wait until a good alternative is found, or a way to preserve the cells in the freezing process. Maybe we just have to wait for Lando’s carbonite freezing machine?
So that leaves all the huge structures we are seeing all over the place, like the Halo Arrays, the Ark and other Forerunner structures like Requiem and Trevelyan. Where did they get the resources in order to build all of that? Surely they can just take what they need from the countless of planets and stars out there? For all we know, Forerunners had the technology to harvest the iron from the core of stars, the final product in a stars nuclear fusion to sustain itself. Even if they did, a lot of iron isn’t that good of a building material, especially when it is on its own. If you look here at this graph, you’ll see that not all elements are as distributed equally throughout the universe, with more hydrogen than the rest of them combined. But what is there to stop them from using nuclear fusion, something humans have been able to do since the 1900s. Sure, we only do it on very small scale in order to create large atoms which are not naturally found anymore, like plutonium. There is no reason to assume that they won’t take an Earth’s atmosphere of hydrogen and convert it into larger atoms which they need for their construction. And with their galaxy-spanning empire, they can simply sacrifice a lifeless star system so they can convert it into building materials. Transporting an entire star system worth’s of stuff sure is a big task, but we know they are up for it.
And that concludes my article on the matter, please comment and start a discussion, I am looking forward to reading your views on the subject.
|Could the Halo Universe become our Universe?|
Part 1 • Part 2