My protagonist is a magician from Sword and Sorcery world with a soft magic system which wakes up in a spacecraft with a non intelligent voice interface which does exactly as told without any regard for safety. The protagonists purpose is to be an AI for space missions ranging from flyby missions on planets or to help colonies from space.

The virtual world

The continent is populated by a 100 million human-level intelligent humans/elves/beastkin/dwarfs and a supporting ecosystem including goblins, horses, rabbits, birds, ... such that all 100 million human level being have a realistic environment and it is not obvious that it is a simulation. The purpose of this simulation is to find individuals suited to solve problems in real space the simulator universe is facing. The simulation gives access to all five (and possibly more magic related) senses to something that runs the intelligence. Actions are not just animations but actual kinematically simulated. When a arm is cut, it is not a symbolic representation saying that but an actual modification of collision boxes and all that stuff. The magic system is designed to ease the transition with the ship in the real world, so that many capabilities of magic map to functions of spacecrafts.

A world simulation will take enormous level of computation. In particular if 100 million human level AIs control the player character and need to think that the world is real.

Would it be feasible for a space station (as opposed to something moon sized or bigger) to have enough storage, energy and computational power to run at a decent fraction of real time a simulation of a continent?

  • $\begingroup$ Remember, we like to deal with one, clearly focused question at a time as per the help center. Would you edit it down to fit. $\endgroup$ – A Rogue Ant. Apr 28 at 23:18
  • $\begingroup$ By "simulation" you mean "World of Warcraft" or "Matrix" style simulation? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Apr 28 at 23:20
  • $\begingroup$ I would argue that an "intelligence" that solves the life-on-a-planet problem has no special advantage when it comes to running a space habitat. $\endgroup$ – SoronelHaetir Apr 28 at 23:23
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    $\begingroup$ Unfortunately, with so many little known variables (like magic), this question is impossible to answer. The answer can flipped with little effort, by just stating that "magic can/can't do this" or "AI can/can't do that". $\endgroup$ – Alexander Apr 28 at 23:35
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    $\begingroup$ @worldsmithhelper First of all, limit your question to one question only. Second, define limits to your magic and AI (because AI can potentially be magically omnipowered). $\endgroup$ – Alexander Apr 28 at 23:47

Requirements: A human-level intelligence has about 1x10^18 synapses and operates at 8 to 12 hz when awake (alpha waves) but can run up to 400 hz in bursts.

You would like 100 million (1x10^8) such minds, each needing about 1x10^19 operations per second. Sub-total: 1x10^27

You’d like a continent-sized (2,000 km) voxel simulation at maybe sub-millimeter resolution and maybe needing to iterate no faster than the minds observing it: (2000 x 1000 x 1000)^2 x 10 = 2x10^19 for one layer of voxels .

Adding, about 2 x 10^27 hertz of processing and bytes of memory required.

Currently, the best processors available can provide 1 terahash (1 x 10^12) of processing for about 47 watts per terahash. Just scaling this technology, you need 1 quadrillion (1 x 10^15) such machines to hit 1 x 10^27 operations per second.

That setup would require 47,000 terawatts to run. For scale, a nuclear bomb produces instantaneous energy in the single or double digit terajoule range.

At about 1 cubic centimeter per device, you’d have a server farm about 1 km tall x 1 km wide x 1 km long.

  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by "device"? $\endgroup$ – worldsmithhelper Apr 29 at 0:28
  • $\begingroup$ And how strong do you assume it to be? $\endgroup$ – worldsmithhelper Apr 29 at 0:36
  • $\begingroup$ Terahertz processor $\endgroup$ – James McLellan Apr 29 at 1:00

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