What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Mar 11, 2011 11:03 pm UTC

Technical Ben wrote:Only 50MW for this one... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toshiba_4S
Fixed all nine orders of magnitude of that for you...
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Technical Ben » Fri Mar 11, 2011 11:14 pm UTC

Eeks. Sorry. I forgot the significance of capitalisation in units. :oops:
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby zmatt » Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:23 pm UTC

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SSTAR seems to be closer to what we want. However it's still pretty big. too large for even most fictional depictions of mechs, let alone a fighter sized craft.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Technical Ben » Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:22 pm UTC

Ohhh. Thanks Zmatt. Looks handy. Especially for Stations and the like. I know small reactors/sources are used on space probes, but not seen an image of one.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby zmatt » Mon Mar 14, 2011 5:22 pm UTC

The "nuclear powered" space craft aren't reactors per se but Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators. Putting something as large as a fully functioning fission reactor into space would not only be prohibitively expensive, but extremely risky. granted, RTGs also have radioactive material, and one even disintegrated in the atmosphere once, but they are far less dangerous. In terms of power output and usefulness they are akin to ION drives. Great for low power, long duration journeys (Voyager is still being powered decades later), not good if you need heavy lifting done.


This gets back to the underlying problem in space craft propulsion and power supplies. How do you make something that is not only powerful, but also has long endurance and is fairly reliable and compact? Conventional rockets are limited in endurance and size because they have to carry their own oxidizer, nuclear rockets are more fuel efficient since they don't have any combustion in the conventional sense, but are still very large and aren't that fuel efficient in the end. ION drives can be made compact and will work for years but they have the thrust of an anemic cough. Improvements in all of these fields can be made to lessen the penalties, but nothing like what we want. In the end we need a completely new form of propulsion.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Technical Ben » Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:04 pm UTC

Oh, I knew that. I just missed typing "generator" instead of "reactor". The power draw on the probes is tiny as well, in comparison to what would be needed for propulsion or weapons.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby nitePhyyre » Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:18 pm UTC

zmatt wrote:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SSTAR seems to be closer to what we want. However it's still pretty big. too large for even most fictional depictions of mechs, let alone a fighter sized craft.

Is it just me or is the 'relative-size-person-shadow' the wrong size? If the width is 3m, then the radius is 1.5m. The average person is 1.6m. The shadow looks to be about .8m, tops.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby zmatt » Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:24 pm UTC

lol I think you are right. Maybe it's a kid?
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Technical Ben » Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:44 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:
zmatt wrote:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SSTAR seems to be closer to what we want. However it's still pretty big. too large for even most fictional depictions of mechs, let alone a fighter sized craft.

Is it just me or is the 'relative-size-person-shadow' the wrong size? If the width is 3m, then the radius is 1.5m. The average person is 1.6m. The shadow looks to be about .8m, tops.

It's at an angle. Your looking down at the person. Bad design/picture really, but as far as I can tell, rendered correctly in 3d by software. Also, if it's a 2d image of a person rendered looking from above in 3d, it really messes with the angles. :/

[edit]
Seems it might be 3m radius, not diameter. :/
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby MrConor » Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:16 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:So that is another way to justify it -- politics. Maybe it is politically untenable to use non-humans in armed weapons of war? Barring an exponential crisis with enough pressure to get the politics to change, that would be more than sufficient. Maybe the organization that makes manned fighters has taken over the military procurement for spaceflight? Maybe the rules of war require that you have to place human beings in danger in order to legally use lethal force, and anything else is war crime?


Of course, the universe has been purged of thinking machines since the last days of the Butlerian Jihad in 108 BG. As the Orange Catholic Bible rightly dictates, "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind."

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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Yakk » Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:36 pm UTC

MrConor wrote:
Yakk wrote:So that is another way to justify it -- politics. Maybe it is politically untenable to use non-humans in armed weapons of war? Barring an exponential crisis with enough pressure to get the politics to change, that would be more than sufficient. Maybe the organization that makes manned fighters has taken over the military procurement for spaceflight? Maybe the rules of war require that you have to place human beings in danger in order to legally use lethal force, and anything else is war crime?
Of course, the universe has been purged of thinking machines since the last days of the Butlerian Jihad in 108 BG. As the Orange Catholic Bible rightly dictates, "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind."
*nod*: except, barring some kind of draconian surveillance state and/or central source of power that makes known cases look like kindergarten, effective weapons tend to be used. The cases where this didn't happen have been MAD cases (where both sides keep their "illegal weapons" in reserve) -- WW2 with poison gas, and the Cold War with nuclear weapons.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby bigglesworth » Sun Mar 20, 2011 11:02 pm UTC

Well, it's possible for the use of AI weapons to cause MAD. A robot missile could be kept cold in orbit near an enemy planet, to launch and detonate catastrophically when activated. It would be much harder for a human-launched missile to do that.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Technical Ben » Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:16 pm UTC

Why do we use fighter planes at all currently?
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Yakk » Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:05 pm UTC

Technical Ben wrote:Why do we use fighter planes at all currently?

Poor computer technology. Insufficient time for drone technology to develop. Institutional inertia. Transportation technology asymmetry (plane vs ship). Obscured line of sight due to horizon and atmosphere.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Technical Ben » Mon Mar 21, 2011 11:49 pm UTC

But we have drones and cruise missiles right?
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Cobramaster » Mon Mar 21, 2011 11:54 pm UTC

Because at the end of the day our fighter planes can deliver more ordinance cheaper and easier than any long range missile system. And the Drones do not have very good combat technology right now and they still require an operator. Also in the past 25 years we have had only a handful of planes shot down US wise. Now if you are from a Country that fought the US in the past 25 years you no longer have an airforce.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Yakk » Tue Mar 22, 2011 1:49 am UTC

Technical Ben wrote:But we have drones and cruise missiles right?

We have drones, but they are in their infancy. They are being used more and more as time goes on.

Cruise missiles exist, but do not completely replace ground attack fighter craft.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Technical Ben » Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:40 am UTC

Would the same not apply? They would not totally replace the need. Even if they became missile platforms (as they are today?).
It could operate like a stealth bomber. Practically on it's own.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby zmatt » Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:35 pm UTC

You still have to dominate the air. Cruise missiles are meant to take out ground targets and do it well. But damn they are expensive. You tend to use them against things that are big expensive and wont move. That way you know you get your money's worth. A Tomahawk cruise missile costs $1 million. There is a cost/benefit ratio. On the other hand you can have a jet loaded iwht a lot of cheap bombs with disposable gps guidance systems that are just as smart as a Tomahawk. Sure the jet may cost $20 mil, but you can get more than 20 sorties out of one, and can blow up multiple targets per sortie, so compared to a BGM-109 they are more cost effective.

Drones are still in their infancy and there is a hesitation to make ones that can carry as much ordinance as a conventional fighter because if the link is lost to the base station for whatever reason you just lost the craft. Not to mention I don't think anyone is in a hurry to put AI on them even if we could right now. When I was in ROTC they briefed us on it and the general consensus was even if they had AI we wouldn't be pulling the trigger unless a human determined it was the right target. If an AI does a strike on it's own and takes out civilians that is a big can of worms you just opened. Also, Terminator. Nobody wants a skynet.

It's likely that manned aircraft will all but be replaced by ground control units within the next 50 years. And I am generally cool with that. if you want to beat someone like the Chinese who could beat anyone at attrition the solution is simply to take human lives out of the equation. We lose robots, they loose people. The sooner we can do the same for ground warfare also the better. Right now the biggest limitations are technical ones such as insuring a good and secure link (the predator isn't even encrypted) and a good logistics chain to support them, and legal ones. Believe it or not, but when we do air strikes now a days there are lawyers sitting at the pentagon making sure we aren't breaking any rules.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Cobramaster » Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:54 am UTC

Actually the Chinese cannot beat us in a war of attrition when it comes to hardware, The world's largest air force is the US Air Force, the second is the Navy and even the army comes in the top 10. The US also boasts a Navy that is almost as large as all of the other navies in the world combined. Which when you consider it is a good reason to keep the people in the planes since for other countries to close the gap they would have to choose inferior methods including said drones since you will not create a system that can beat a pilot on the scene without extensive AI.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby bigglesworth » Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:25 am UTC

Well, a well-designed drone might be simply different. Look at the Royal Navy and the Kriegsmarine circa 1910.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby zmatt » Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:03 pm UTC

Cobramaster wrote:Actually the Chinese cannot beat us in a war of attrition when it comes to hardware, The world's largest air force is the US Air Force, the second is the Navy and even the army comes in the top 10. The US also boasts a Navy that is almost as large as all of the other navies in the world combined. Which when you consider it is a good reason to keep the people in the planes since for other countries to close the gap they would have to choose inferior methods including said drones since you will not create a system that can beat a pilot on the scene without extensive AI.


Actually by number of aircraft the Chinese have us. but most of them are outdated J-7s (Mig-21 derivative) And a war of attrition doesn't take into account technology. They simply have more people who are willing to fight. Look at Russia, they have a similar situation man power wise, and their "oh shit" strategy when over run is so zerg rush the other guys. Stalingrad in WW2, half the men had guns and the other half had one stripper clip of ammo. One dies, the other gets a gun with ammo. The Germans who were far more advanced, trained and equipped simply didn't have enough bullets and man power. By 1945 the Russians had pulled themselves back together and pushed the Germans back, still outnumbering them. A similar thing would likely happen in a ground war versus China. In that sense, we are at a big disadvantage.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Technical Ben » Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:10 pm UTC

So, would it work like this...
Frigate/missile platform/space fighter A takes on Space fighter B.
They fire their missiles, point defences, and any mass drivers they have. One wins, or one looses. This will probably be at long range.
If it's a stalemate, then they go in close and have a good old dog fight because they still have normal machine guns too. Just like in the movies.

I know the last bit there is not going to happen. :(
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby zmatt » Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:40 pm UTC

Technical Ben wrote:So, would it work like this...
Frigate/missile platform/space fighter A takes on Space fighter B.
They fire their missiles, point defences, and any mass drivers they have. One wins, or one looses. This will probably be at long range.
If it's a stalemate, then they go in close and have a good old dog fight because they still have normal machine guns too. Just like in the movies.

I know the last bit there is not going to happen. :(


You would be surprised, we made guns kills in desert storm. Missiles don't always work, they are much better than they used to be, but if you have good counter measures then you may have to go in close. Lasers can be reflected and diffused and mass drivers have the same drawbacks as guns, just not as pronounced because of their range and velocity.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Technical Ben » Thu Mar 24, 2011 4:03 pm UTC

Would there not be a benefit of capturing a larger vessel or station? Would fighters be workable in this instance?
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby zmatt » Thu Mar 24, 2011 6:37 pm UTC

I'm sorry, I don't understand you question.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:17 pm UTC

Would fighters be a workable solution to the problem of capturing a larger vessel or station?
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Yakk » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:20 pm UTC

Ah yes -- the ability to threaten by putting valuable assets in danger, and exposing weapons to counter-attack in order to express dominance?

A long-range missile cruiser that can destroy something doesn't "call out" resistance the way a marine does.

So, fighters as a kind of "police" boat.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby zmatt » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:49 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Would fighters be a workable solution to the problem of capturing a larger vessel or station?


ah thanks.


Well fighters by definition are single or two seater craft. if you wanted to board an enemy vessel then you would want something that could carry a contingent of foot soldiers. Either a purpose built craft or something smaller than a capitol ship, but larger than a fighter like a "corvette".

Boarding vessels in this manner hasn't really been a legitimate naval tactic since at least 1900, and I doubt it would be in space combat in the future. Then again, any predictions we make are based on 0 experience with space combat at all. So it's just as valid as any other idea at this point.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Technical Ben » Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:08 pm UTC

Ok. I'm out of straws to clutch at. ;)
Apart from the Ad hock attack from a load of personal civilian shuttles with small arms attached that is! :mrgreen:
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby zmatt » Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:29 pm UTC

heh I know what you mean. I a big mecha fan, but I also realize the complexity and shortcomings would make anything more than an exosuit a big target. One can still dream right?

The nice things is, like i said before, absolutely no one knows how space combat will work out. We think it will work a certain way; mass drivers, laser and missiles firing off at great distances in the ultimate game of standoff. But we have no way of knowing. Another user said in a different thread about how our descendants will encounter problems and devise strategies that we will never have thought of, simply because we aren't there. This part about all of this is that it leaves you open to think pretty much whatever you want to. That's how you can end up with with Star Wars, Warhammer, Home world, Star trek, Gundam, Macross, and Stargate even being all equally valid approximations. Naturally I'm doing a lot of "hand waving" (people here love to say that) for things like Lucas' hyperdrive, which he pulled out of his ass, or the idea that we are descendants to the original uber race of aliens (both halo and stargate get on that). But you get the idea. You are free to imagine it how you want at this point.

For example, when I was in school I was a terrible student, and would spend most of my class hours doodling. I would draw these large space capitol ships with multiple turrets on the sides, top and bottom firing some form of directed energy weapon, and lots and lots of missiles. There were also small unmanned fighter craft, and purpose built boarding vessels like the ones you described. It's all kind of silly, but this is the science-fiction board after all.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Headshrinker » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:34 pm UTC

Drones are still in their infancy and there is a hesitation to make ones that can carry as much ordinance as a conventional fighter because if the link is lost to the base station for whatever reason you just lost the craft. Not to mention I don't think anyone is in a hurry to put AI on them even if we could right now.

I think that they will retreat back to a know airbase or area it had a good signal if it is cut off.

Actually by number of aircraft the Chinese have us. but most of them are outdated J-7s (Mig-21 derivative) And a war of attrition doesn't take into account technology. They simply have more people who are willing to fight. Look at Russia, they have a similar situation man power wise, and their "oh shit" strategy when over run is so zerg rush the other guys. Stalingrad in WW2, half the men had guns and the other half had one stripper clip of ammo. One dies, the other gets a gun with ammo. The Germans who were far more advanced, trained and equipped simply didn't have enough bullets and man power. By 1945 the Russians had pulled themselves back together and pushed the Germans back, still outnumbering them. A similar thing would likely happen in a ground war versus China. In that sense, we are at a big disadvantage.

The Germans were devided. This was not just a war between the Russians and the Germans.
Another possible example would have been the Korean war, Allied technology against communist numbers.
Bear in mind being well equiped now makes more of a difference than back then due to the levels of possible technology.

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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby zmatt » Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:30 pm UTC

well it depends a lot on the circumstances. Throughout history there have been occasions where battle shave been won due to technology, technologically advanced opponents have been defeated by low tech adversaries, numbers have beat individually superior hardware, and superior hardware owned the battlefield. You can cherry pick specific points to support any of these. However technology alone isn't enough, and I would argue that when talking about aircraft numbers are also important considering how limited the number of weapons one can carry on board.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby idobox » Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:29 pm UTC

A device plot that could be used:
Ships have some kind of very efficient shields. The only way to pass through it to damage your target, is a very expensive jump drive. Missiles are cheap, but missiles capable of jumping are not, so the best option is to load missiles on a ship, jump inside the shield, and fire.
For additionnal dramatic effect, make the shield bubble small and jump frequency low. Firing missiles now results in the destruction of both the target and the bomber. You need to use smaller weapons.
Now, the fighters are too small to carry full shield generators, and carry partial shields, effective only in one direction. They protect effectively the fighter against weapons on board of the carrier, but not against other fighters who shoot from a different direction, so you have dogfights.

Now to explain why humans pilot rather than computers...
handwaving the impossibility of making a computer jump.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Headshrinker » Fri Apr 08, 2011 5:34 pm UTC

Or the only way to get an AI to fly well enough to approach a ship is to give it an AI that emulates a human brain, This AI will then refuse to kill itself so cannot be loaded on to a missile system.
Another alternative is people know that a war of AIs will be so bad that neither side will make the move towards that.

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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby zmatt » Sun Apr 10, 2011 3:31 am UTC

Headshrinker wrote:Or the only way to get an AI to fly well enough to approach a ship is to give it an AI that emulates a human brain, This AI will then refuse to kill itself so cannot be loaded on to a missile system.
Another alternative is people know that a war of AIs will be so bad that neither side will make the move towards that.


That is silly, ever heard of auto pilot before? Modern plans can actually land themselves. We have missiles the guide themselves, and now we are getting cars that drive themselves. Making a machine (I wouldn't even call some them computers) to follow a path and navigate something is extremely easy, and something that machines are well suited too. We have had guided missiles since the 1950's. And these ships are little more than glorified missiles. I would also imagine sticking any sentient AI onto a guidance system would be an unnecessary cost and complication.

If you want to make humans competitive as pilots at that level then i think you would need to make the cockpits with "inertial dampeners". Now that would be a fun discussion.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Cobramaster » Sun Apr 10, 2011 4:05 am UTC

If the fighter is used in a suicide attack it becomes an overly complicated missile. The reason you have fighters is it allows for cheaper shorter ranged weapons to do the job of long range guided missiles that cost even more. Essentially its a fast moving weapons platform that if necessary can kill other fast moving weapons platforms.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby idobox » Sun Apr 10, 2011 10:01 am UTC

If weapon technology is far better than shields/armor, having fighters/bombers around is a way not to have all your eggs in the same basket.
Your frigate, with all its mass drivers, lasers and missiles gets shot by a relativistic projectile and is destroyed before having the possibility to fight back. The swarm of smaller crafts can still counter-attack.

If you want to capture an ennemy ship or station, you need to send troops. But for your troops to arrive, you first need to destroy the weapons of your target. Long range smart missiles that cause small damage might be very expensive, so a small fighter/bomber spaceship that shoots dumb projectiles at a shorter range makes sense.
Enforcing peace is a similar case. You want to shoot at small targets (rebels/enemy troops) without hitting what's around (civilians, allies).

In both cases, the smaller ships need to do more than just trajectory correction. So you either have to trust your AI to make the right (and moral) decisions, or to put humans in there. One device plot could be that AI are still not that good, or that AI are so human like, they are considered legally human and can't be cloned or sacrified.

Another plot device could be a very assymetrical war. For example, the attacked planet could be unable to build large ships, either because it doesn't have the technology or its large shipyards are destroyed. Or retroffited small civilian ships could be used by people who don't have access to military grade stuff. Or a species that never invented the computer.
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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Headshrinker » Sun Apr 10, 2011 3:47 pm UTC

zmatt wrote:
Headshrinker wrote:Or the only way to get an AI to fly well enough to approach a ship is to give it an AI that emulates a human brain, This AI will then refuse to kill itself so cannot be loaded on to a missile system.
Another alternative is people know that a war of AIs will be so bad that neither side will make the move towards that.


That is silly, ever heard of auto pilot before? Modern plans can actually land themselves. We have missiles the guide themselves, and now we are getting cars that drive themselves. Making a machine (I wouldn't even call some them computers) to follow a path and navigate something is extremely easy, and something that machines are well suited too. We have had guided missiles since the 1950's. And these ships are little more than glorified missiles. I would also imagine sticking any sentient AI onto a guidance system would be an unnecessary cost and complication.

Auto fighter pilot? Can't say I have.
None of these tasks have involved being able to trick or out-manoeuvre a missile defence system. It is not a case of approaching a ship, it is making the ship not be able to destroy you as you do so. This will probably involve creativity and deception. something humans do alot better than computers.

zmatt wrote:If you want to make humans competitive as pilots at that level then i think you would need to make the cockpits with "inertial dampeners". Now that would be a fun discussion.

depends, these ships all already have an artificial gravity field.

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Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby idobox » Sun Apr 10, 2011 10:49 pm UTC

Headshrinker wrote:Auto fighter pilot? Can't say I have.
None of these tasks have involved being able to trick or out-manoeuvre a missile defence system. It is not a case of approaching a ship, it is making the ship not be able to destroy you as you do so. This will probably involve creativity and deception. something humans do alot better than computers

We can safely assume AI will make some significant progress before the question of space fighters arises.
Computers are already necessary in fighter planes, because humans just don't have the reflexes, or the ability to estimate trajectories.
If there is no answer, there is no question. If there is no solution, there is no problem.

Waffles to space = 100% pure WIN.


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