June 21, 2010 3 Comments
By Robin Hanson
First, I’d expect defensive redundant booby-trapping of wormholes connecting potential enemy regions. Wormholes are the major transportation and communication channels; folks would invade along them if they could, so if limited in number they would be choke points – fortified against the most advanced invaders one could imagine.
Second, I’d expect military powers to try and control the entry of wormholes into their territory. If war breaks out, and the enemy has lots of wormholes behind your lines, close to targets and to raw materials, they can see what you’re doing and hit you fast. Bad news.
So I’d expect mainly bit streams to go through official wormholes; wormhole passage through wormholes would be tightly controlled, if they could manage it. And even bit streams can be dangerous; once aliens had connected up from across the universe, it might be most unwise to run unknown complex software from distant lands, as in Vinge’s “A Fire Upon the Deep”.
Regions with too many unknown wormholes in it might be dead zones, the sort of place no one could plausibly defend because attack could literally come from anywhere in great force. Neighboring regions might want to explode a quasar there or something to try and limit the threat of invasion from that direction.
Third, regions which, for the same “empire” or “universal” time, are at an earlier cosmological co-moving time would have strong military advantages. Say war breaks out at some empire time, and existing wormholes are sealed against attack. In this case the “earlier” region can send a cloud of wormholes toward their enemies the old-fashioned way, on rockets, to arrive rather soon in empire time. If any of the wormhole cloud gets through, a beachhead is formed for attack. Similar holes sent the other way would likely be quickly destroyed by threatening to form causal loops, and even if they didn’t they would take a *very* long time in empire years to get there.
If warring regions have empire times at similar cosmological times, as in the meeting aliens example, and wormhole access is denied, and technological/economic growth is at all in force, then defenders have a huge advantage cause they can just wait and grow, as Mike Price commented in his paper.
So the major links between and within civilizations might be under tight military control, new additions to the network subject to military veto, and regions at the geographic center of an empire having a strong military advantage. “Empire” doesn’t sound so far-fetched in this case.