SF Idea: a post-human society of tiny people

Some of my favorite authors like to explore post-human societies: people like Ian M. Banks, Greg Egan, and (arguably) Frank Herbert. One interesting take would be to posit a future Earth where humanity has taken a smaller physical form (perhaps the size of ants). This hypothetical society does this primarily to support more human life, and in a less intrusive manner. Despite supporting trillions of people, Earth viewed from space would look idyllic. Members of this society are immortal and high intelligent, of course. Other reasons to become ant-size come to mind - when you're that small you can fly! You also have superpowers like being able to leap many times your own height (like a flea). Assuming these post humans are built from a diamondiod substrate (a la Drexler), such tiny humans would be essentially indestructible, able to take enormous accelerations without damage. (They would be very resistant to heat as well, but could still be destroyed by being exposed to too much radiation.)

These tiny humans could create a city of thousands in a single tree. The Earth's natural state could be left basically untouched, despite supporting *trillions* of human lives. Space travel becomes enormously cheaper - people are so small, and life-support relatively meaningless, that they can be hurled into space by railguns. (You'd still need a fairly large spaceship, I think, at least the size of a canon ball so that it can overcome atmospheric friction without ionizing the poor tiny people)

Of course, sometimes people might need to assume temporary larger form for certain kinds of macroscopic work (like construction). A cynic may say that such a form would result in an arms race of size - but I would contend that the ubiquity of nanotechnology would make size-based warfare pointless. The idea is that if you step out of line, you'll get disassembled!

I would imagine that most humans of the world would have access to a very fast and ubiquitous data network, letting people across the globe stay in close contact. However, physical travel would be fraught with risk. You can't die, but you could loose a lot of time getting swallowed by a seagull (and waiting to get pooped out) or falling down a cliff, and have to climb your way back up. (Interestingly, this is much the same "downside" to dying as you experience in games like World of Warcraft.)

So how would our society get to be like that? Unlike Egan and Banks, I don't think it's even theoretically possible to quickly and easily "upload" people into a computer and reassemble them in a virtual world. The brain and body is very complex and consists of many, many cells composed of many, many atoms all in constant motion. I suspect that what may happen is that we humans will create robots with similar capacities as ourselves, but with a more regular physical representation of mind. The first few generations will be raised by humans (perhaps even simulating growth by "molting" their old bodies). For all intents and purposes, these robots will BE human. Eventually the last biological humans will die out, leaving only the immortal versions behind. These post-humans will choose their physical forms with much more freedom than we ever could. (No doubt there are some wonderful stories about the early days around robots who choose, perhaps out of love, to take a biological form and die along with their bio-human lover...a kind of mix of JRR Tolkien and Philip Dick.)

The story possibilities of this world are really grand: perhaps there are sub-cultures that cherish death and the fear that comes with it ("to make life worth living" or somesuch), and so go out on adventures where they face real risk of destruction; at any time, the number of children will be small, and so perhaps there is a unique-to-the-world place where children are raised together with their "parents"; unlike Earth, where native life is protected, the moon is an enormous city, supporting even more post-human life than Earth does (it's the utlimate metaphor for city/country divide); humans live in many of Earth's most forbidding environments: at the bottom of the sea, in vast underground caverns, and within the crust of the earth. Perhaps a conscious decision is made to let nature take it's course, but that extinction level events should be prevented if possible (e.g. prevent meteor impacts, but don't prevent natural climate change). Perhaps people will try to increase the mental capacity of their children in increments, and see how that works out. Perhaps they will create vast intelligences (the size of a squirrel) and see how that goes. Perhaps those with wanderlust and a taste for real adventure would join (relatively small) generation ships that are sent out occasionally to nearby suns. Perhaps there are a few hold-out groups of bio-humans who, back in the dimmness of time, resisted the trend, and who, despite their loathing of the small people around them, are left alone as part of 'nature'. Perhaps these bio-humans are relegated to vast, lifeless underground territory where they can "do no harm" to the natural environment. Or perhaps they got (terraformed) Mars. Perhaps the bio-humans want the Earth back, and are only held back by the overwhelming numbers and technological superiority of the post-human civilization. (Now that's an interesting scenario - who does the reader root for, the bio-humans wanting to retake the Earth and mold it to their desires, or the conservationist, but alien post humans who want to preserve and protect Earth's natural grandeur?)

Definitely fertile soil for a story or three.

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