The Land where Machines Learn

Robots on Earth are really complicated by the presence of everything else there is here. As they quickly become more capable, we’ll have to deal with what to do as they take people’s jobs. We’ll have to make sure they are safe as the become more common in our daily lives, and almost as important, not scary or weird. Even as they makes it easier for us to make things, we have to make sure that doesn’t cause us to take things we shouldn’t, needlessly injuring nature.

None of this is relevant on the moon. There, robots have free reign from the beginning and never operate under the restrictions they have on Earth. On the contrary, the lunar robotics community revels in the freedom they have to experiment with their designs and to augment them unfettered. It is one of the main things attracting ever more roboticists to their ranks, cementing Moon Town as the place to be if you are a serious robotics engineer. Moon Town citizens pride themselves on their sophisticated laissez faire relationships with the robots that surround them and that have seeped into every aspect of their lives. 

Earth allows the moon to give all their artificially intelligent machines all kinds of freedom because the moon convinces them that whatever else happens, the machines aren’t going to leave the surface of the moon. They are contained. Besides, they have proven so incredibly valuable nobody needs more excuse than that to continue to develop them and ship them all around the moon. Robots in orbital installations follow more conservative protocols, but within Moon Town? Some start passing intial Turing tests. 

Soon after the point in Moon Town’s history shown in the game, complete robot teams are sent to empty spots on the moon and tasked with building complete factories and habitats by themselves with no external direction. This is one of those times where the lifelessness of the moon is handy. After they get some practice and mature (which doesn’t take long in their paradigm) Moon Town decides to set them loose on a big plan: to cover Lalande Crater in a glass dome, establishing Lalande City.

Then there is the matter of the quantum computers. Maintaining the extreme isolation from the rest of the universe necessary for quantum systems to perform calculations is extraordinarily difficult. It’s a great help to have a really, really cold, dark place in order to scale that up – like the interior of polar craters on the moon, the ones that never feel the touch of the sun. Ones that aren’t useful for water ice mining are turned over to developers who set up the first quantum computer mainframes. Designs in this setting are able to make extensive use of superconductors and magnetic levitation, and to preserve insanely huge and cold heat sinks. They dwarf anything on Earth. 

They up the need for vigilance and prudence in the creation of non-human minds. The post-Turing robots of Moon Town are one thing. Even the robot illuminati on the moon get nervous around the quantum mainframes. Especially the one that is deliberately developed as an investigation of consciousness. They find it reassuring, for all their fondness for their creations, that the slightest interruption of the QCs’ delicate quantum state would cause it to evaporate, and it can’t possibly leave its deep dark crater home.

Yes, this is an invitation to write stories with this starting point. 

This article is a stub. It will be expanded after publication of Moonwards' first release