Cosmic endowment

The ‘cos­mic en­dow­ment’ com­prises the \(\approx 4 \times 10^{20}\) es­ti­mated stars that could po­ten­tially be reached by probes origi­nat­ing from mod­ern Earth, be­fore the ex­pand­ing uni­verse car­ries those stars over the cos­molog­i­cal hori­zon. It has been es­ti­mated that sim­ply sur­round­ing a star with so­lar pan­els would yield on the or­der of enough en­ergy to perform \(\approx 10^{42}\) com­puter op­er­a­tions per sec­ond. Us­ing 100 billion neu­rons x 1000 synapses per neu­ron x 100 op­er­a­tions per synapse per sec­ond as a stan­dard hand­wavy es­ti­mate of the com­put­ing power re­quired to sup­port a hu­man-equiv­a­lent ex­is­tence—al­though it is doubt­ful that hu­mans are us­ing this com­pu­ta­tional power very effi­ciently, or that 100 ops/​sec­ond could faith­fully simu­late one synapse—this sug­gests that a star could sup­port, at min­i­mum, \(\approx 10^{25}\) hu­man-equiv­a­lent sapi­ent lives. Gloss­ing a star’s life­time as 1 billion years, and as­sum­ing the qual­ity of posthu­man ex­is­tence to count for no more than 1 Qual­ity-Ad­justed Life Year (QALY), this sug­gests that the cos­mic en­dow­ment could be used (ex­treme hand­wav­ing) to re­al­ize at least \(\approx 10^{54}\) QALYs.


  • Value achievement dilemma

    How can Earth-origi­nat­ing in­tel­li­gent life achieve most of its po­ten­tial value, whether by AI or oth­er­wise?