On Saturday, February 24, 2018 at 5:01:42 PM UTC, Greg Goss wrote:
> ***@sky.com wrote:
> >On Saturday, February 24, 2018 at 2:09:54 AM UTC, ***@gmail.com wrote:
> >> On Sunday, February 18, 2018 at 9:58:33 PM UTC-8, Andrew McDowell wrote:
> >> > On Monday, February 19, 2018 at 4:33:14 AM UTC, Johnny1A wrote:
> >> > > SF is full of interstellar states, up to and including some that include huge percentages of the galaxy, or all of it, such as the classic _Foundation_ series.
> >> > >
> >> > > Now, obviously this only works if you have FTL travel (FTL communications other than travel are optional but very useful). But if you have fast enough FTL tech, there's no inherent reason why states couldn't come together across interstellar distances, just as current-day travel tech enables continent-wide or bigger states, at least in potential.
> >> > >
> >> > > But, there are other issues with a galactic-scale state, such as complexity. Using Sagan's old figure of ~400 billion stars in the Milky Way, let us say for the sake of argument that one star in a thousand has a useful world that might be considered habitable for colonization. That leaves us with 400 million worlds.
> >> > >
> >> > > (That's a conservative estimate, BTW because at high tech levels lots of different kinds of world could be useful for settlement. But assume 1/1000.)
> >> > >
> >> > > Let us also say that our FTL tech is good enough that we can get from any point within the galactic disk to any other point within one Terran year, and it takes a Terran year to cross the disk from rim to rim. Just for illustration.
> >> > >
> >> > > So if all 400 million worlds are part of the galactic union, how can they be plausibly governed? Representative democracy?You'd need an entire world just to house the legislature, if representation is no more than 1 to a world. If we subdivide the galaxy into smaller states of say 1000 worlds each, and each one gets 1 representative, that reduces our central legislature to a mere 400,000 members. Now all we need is a good-size city to house the legislature.
> >> > >
> >> > > We could go old school, like Asimov, and posit an Emperor. The Emperor of the galaxy and his 400 million planetary dukes...
> >> > >
> >> > > What SF writers have addressed this problem in a creative or halfway plausible way?
> >> > >
> >> > > One is Lloyd Biggle, who wrote the Jan Darzek stories in the 1970s. He posits that the Milky Way is ruled by such a multi-world, multi-species state, and the practical governing is done by a planet-sized computer AI called Supreme. For practical purposes, Supreme is the galactic government, though there are bureaucratic organizations that serve it and a council that sort of supervises it. But in a society made up of millions upon millions of words and thousands of intelligent species, supervising it is kind of a hypothetical issue.
> >> > >
> >> > > Anybody else?
> >> >
> >> > Interesting point - some thoughts:
> >> > 1) Having an unexplored frontier is a lot of fun, and so is humanity struggling off earth and fighting for survival, so fully settled galaxies aren't that common in SF.
> >> > 2) Even with only a fairly manageable number of settled worlds Drake's RCN series follows the precedent of Rome in having a single world rule all the others. To the extent that other worlds have any influence in policy at all, it comes from them having people on the central world (Cinnabar) to speak for them. Another well-known accommodation for transport problems is the time between the election of members of the electoral college in the US and the time when they meet to officially chose a President, to allow them to gather on horseback.
> >> > 3) Hierarchies are actually pretty scalable, if you don't care about how deep they are. 400E6 < 2^29 so if one person can supervise 16 others, a nine deep hierarchy should work. Picking eclectically to get enough titles we have 1 Emperor 16 Augusti 256 Caesars 4,096 Princes 65,536 Satraps 1,048,576 Governors 16,777,216 Counts 268,435,456 Dukes and 4,294,967,296 Lords.
> >> >
> >> > I think experience shows that people can only keep a small number of personalities in their head, so if this is some sort of democracy, you elect and Emperor and let them choose the rest. In fact, I'd like to elect a slightly non-standard triumvirate. One emperor, one deputy emperor, and a umpire. The emperor is pretty much all-powerful, except that the umpire has the ability to remove them in favor of the deputy emperor. This can survive the insanity of any single member. If the emperor goes bonkers, sack them. If the deputy emperor goes bonkers, do nothing. If the umpire goes bonkers the worst that can happen is that the deputy takes over when they don't need to.
> >> What if both Emperor and deputy blow their zaps, or all 3 go nuts?
> >Then you're stuffed. This is a scheme to cope with any single failure. If two out of three say B and the third says A a scheme can only go with B - it can't tell of its own that A is correct. If the vast majority of the people believe for years that the way to solve all of their problems is to stage a pointless civil war no organisation will stop it - constitutions will be ammended to allow it if necessary. But coping with any single failure while still allowing the sort of consistency and speed of decision making you get with one or a few people in command would be an advance on most of the forms of government people have historically lived with - in particular an advance on Roman Emperors in our time-line.
> Early computers ran on tubes. Thousands of tubes. Tubes fail. So
> every logic switch was voted on. If all three didn't give the same
> answer, the majority bit was passed on and a light activated on the
> panel front for the tube changer with the shopping cart of tubes to
> fix it.
> We are geeks. Resistance is voltage over current.
I believe Von Neumann proved that such a thing could be done, but I don't believe that all early computers used this design. In https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossus_computer see "the idea that the one to two thousand thermionic valves (vacuum tubes and thyratrons) proposed, could work together reliably, was greeted with great scepticism, so more Robinsons were ordered from Dollis Hill. Flowers, however, knew from his pre-war work that most thermionic valve failures occurred as a result of the thermal stresses at power up, so not powering a machine down reduced failure rates to very low levels. Additionally, the heaters were started at a low voltage then slowly brought up to full voltage to reduce the thermal stress. The valves themselves were soldered in to avoid problems with plug-in bases, which could be unreliable." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENIAC doesn't suggest redundancy to me "Several tubes burned out almost every day, leaving ENIAC nonfunctional about half the time. Special high-reliability tubes were not available until 1948. Most of these failures, however, occurred during the warm-up and cool-down periods, when the tube heaters and cathodes were under the most thermal stress. Engineers reduced ENIAC's tube failures to the more acceptable rate of one tube every two days. According to a 1989 interview with Eckert, "We had a tube fail about every two days and we could locate the problem within 15 minutes." In 1954, the longest continuous period of operation without a failure was 116 hours—close to five days."
(The actual source from which my design of Emperor/Deputy/Umpire is pinched is Oracle Data Guard Primary/Secondary/Observer as e.g. a web search finds in http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/articles/smiley-fsfo-084973.html)