September 10, 2010

Sentient Probes

Frankly, I am tired of us anthropomorphizing our space probes and imbuing them with personalities that aren't true.

It is time we do it for real.

We need probes that can make choices without human intervention. We need probes with actual personalities. We need not just Artificial Intelligence. We need Artificial Minds loaded on Sentient Probes.

Just imagine if the New Horizons probe, or Voyager--actually tweeted it’s own thoughts!

The trip to other worlds is such a boring affair for anyone, or any thing, such as a lifeless probe loaded with computers that merely process decisions and commands from humans sitting at the control center.

If we are ever going to send probes to other planets, let us give them minds of their own. Let’s give them more autonomy and a soul to squeeze. I am all for sentient probes.

But there is one crucial caveat: minds are restless.

Loading a sentient mind onto a probe that would traverse interstellar space for hundreds, even thousands of years is like torturing a virtual soul. Therefore, we need some way to keep them occupied. We need to load them up with lots of toys, playgrounds and what-have-you’s. Perhaps provide a companion with an opposing personality to keep them company. It would also serve to balance their collective behaviour. Kind of like left-brain/right-brain metaphor. It seems that virtual worlds are the most economical way to do it with regards to energy consumption on a long trip.

These probe-minds have to be active and humming and must be given an incentive to continue their mission. They must also be able to continually learn. And if their mission is to find life, what better incentive than to actually keep their life as an incentive.

It seems cruel, i know. That’s why I must elaborate upon that idea via a short story entitled "Life Begets Life" that I wrote for #FridayFlash. Of course, it has a tiny bit of exoplanet science so i can mention it on this blog.

And to make it exciting, I’ve put in some speculation regarding the presence of life on a tidally-locked planet, which is often orbiting relatively close to it’s host star. My guess is, life could be jump-started on the boundary where the roasted part of the planet meets the cold dark regions. I believe that Life is at the edge of Chaos and Order.