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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
4/6/2016 1:19:13 PM
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Platinum
Re: data center satellites...
Robots are going to be more and more autonomous -- and doing things that are economically impractical with humans very soon. It'll be quite some time before we really see robotic tech do nearly everything a human can do, but maybe we'll be surprised -- like we were with AlphaGo.

Autonomous data centers, though, are nearly here. And I'm really wondering when the "thin computing" predictions of the 90s will come back. We're almost there already with Siri and other cloud-based services/apps.

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Ariella
Ariella
4/6/2016 8:46:08 AM
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Author
Re: data center satellites...
@mhhf1ve I think a robot mission is feasible, though you still have to have an economical way to get the robots into space and make sure they get what needs to be done there  even if they don't have to be brought back down to earth. 

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elizabethv
elizabethv
4/6/2016 6:15:56 AM
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Platinum
Re: Autonomous data centers...
@mhhf1ve you're undoubtedly right, people are likely far more concerned with the immediate economical impact of technological communication over the long term consequences of any environmental impact. The unfortuante thing is it's very likely we have no idea just how much might rely on anything found in the sea, and by ignoring it for the immediate could have disasterous consequences for entire planet. (Bees come to mind.) I love my technology, but I would also like to see this planet make it a few hundred years more or so (to say the least.) My 3-year-old would say "We can do it!" (He's so encouraging.) :-) 

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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
4/5/2016 7:56:40 PM
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Platinum
Re: data center satellites...
> "@mhhf1ve true, it would be quite an operation to get it down safely or to put someone up there to work on it. "

But maybe instead of "someone" -- a robot mission could do it.. I think I've seen some not-so-sci-fi proposals to get robot repair satellites in orbit. But it's usually just to push satellites back into proper orbits, or to re-fuel them... (Not to gut them and upgrade their processors)

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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
4/5/2016 7:54:22 PM
User Rank
Platinum
Re: data center satellites...
Satellites that collect solar energy and beam it down to earth (without datacenters onboard) are in the proposal stage of development, too..  But I think the hang up is that shooting down energy beams from space is considered an evil villian tactic, not an environmentally sound plan.

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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
4/5/2016 7:52:16 PM
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Platinum
Re: data center satellites...
> "That's not to say it's impossible, as the Hubble Telescope had to be repaired several times, but it's likely not all that economically feasible."

The Hubble was repaired when the Space Shuttle was still operational... now that the Shuttle is mothballed in museums, it's far less economical to retrieve or repair anything floating in space (that's not connected to the International Space Station, that is).

Maybe Elon Musk has some blueprints for another way to do it... but.. it's probably even easier/cheaper for him to just launch another rocket and let old satellites burn up in the atmosphere.

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Ariella
Ariella
4/5/2016 7:33:26 PM
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Author
Re: data center satellites...
<The other downside is that you can't just pull it down and replace/upgrade hardware whenever you want.... >

@mhhf1ve true, it would be quite an operation to get it down safely or to put someone up there to work on it. That's not to say it's impossible, as the Hubble Telescope had to be repaired several times, but it's likely not all that economically feasible. 

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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
4/5/2016 7:17:53 PM
User Rank
Platinum
data center satellites...
Autonomous data centers have also been proposed that are solar-powered.. and orbit the earth. It's a bit of a harder sell because rocket launches aren't exactly cheap -- and the built-in latency for terrestrial-space communications isn't great, either.

But free solar energy, possibly 24/7, depending on the orbit... 

The other downside is that you can't just pull it down and replace/upgrade hardware whenever you want.... 

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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
4/5/2016 7:14:13 PM
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Autonomous data centers...
The ocean floor will need to be protected soon. I'm not sure which authorities govern the vast areas of the sea floor, but if it's international waters... 

There are some more serious environmental concerns about mining the seabed for metals. Not too long ago, China had (has?) a monopoly on the rare earth mining/production operations, so some companies have developed autonomous robots to mine the ocean floor. Digging up the seabed probably isn't too good for whatever fragile ecosystems exist down there.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/09/science/09seafloor.html

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Ariella
Ariella
4/5/2016 7:01:35 PM
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Author
Re: Autonomous data centers...
@mhhf1ve Over a hundred years ago transatlantic cables were laid for telegraph service, so ther eis precedent. However, then people weren't really concerned about environmental impacts. I found an argument in favor of the cables  that touches on that history:

More than 95 percent of international Internet, telephone, and data traffic is transported by undersea cable, a percentage that continues to increase over time. ƒ More than 1 million km of fiber-optic cable installed globally. ƒ Undersea cables are both the old and the new technology, with transoceanic telegraph cables dating back to the 1850s and fiberoptics revolutionizing communications in the 1980s



The main point of the piece is to defend the cables as less harmful to marine life than commercial fishing:

Although subject to extensive environmental reviews, the impact of undersea cable projects is essentially benign. ƒ Undersea cables are made from non-toxic materials that present little risk due to leaching. In fact, in some cases, disused cable has been incorporated into artificial reefs. Marine life gravitate toward cables. ƒ Cable installation and repair, including route clearance, plowing, jetting, and grappling, are far less damaging that other marine activities such as trawling, and are also one-time or occasional activities. ƒ Cable ships cause no more air pollution that other vessels and pose none of the pollution risks of oil and gas development or the commercial cruise-ship industry. ƒ Commercial fishermen are far more likely to injure marine life.

 

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