A matrioshka brain is a hypothetical megastructure proposed by Robert Bradbury, based on the Dyson sphere, of immense computational capacity. It is an example of a Class B stellar engine, employing the entire energy output of a star to drive computer systems. This concept derives its name from Russian Matrioshka dolls. The concept was deployed by its inventor, Robert Bradbury, in the anthology Year Million: Science at the Far Edge of Knowledge, and attracted interest from reviewers in the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal.
The term "matrioshka brain" was invented by Robert Bradbury as an alternative to the "Jupiter brain"—a concept similar to the matrioshka brain, but on a smaller planetary scale and optimized for minimum signal propagation delay. A matrioshka brain design is concentrated on sheer capacity and the maximum amount of energy extracted from its source star, while a Jupiter brain is more optimized for computational speed.
Some possible uses of such an immense computational resource have been proposed. One idea suggested by Charles Stross, in his novel Accelerando, would be to use it to run perfect simulations or uploads of human minds into virtual reality spaces supported by the Matrioshka brain. Stross even went so far as to suggest that a sufficiently powerful species utilizing enough raw processing power could launch attacks upon, and manipulate, the structure of the universe itself. In Godplayers (2005), Damien Broderick surmises that a matrioshka brain would allow simulating entire alternate universes. The futurist and transhumanist author Anders Sandberg wrote an essay speculating on implications of computing on the massive scale of machines such as the Matrioshka brain, published by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.
- Megascale engineering
- Strong AI
- Technological Singularity
- Bradbury, Robert J. "Matrioshka Brain Home Page". Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- "Matrioshka Brains – Some Intermediate Stages in the Evolution of Life" (PDF). Department of Astronomy, University of Virginia. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- Levy, Brett (August 26, 2008). "Book Review: 'Year Million: Science at the Far Edge of Knowledge,' edited by Damien Broderick". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- Horgan, John (June 13, 2008). "The Shape of Things to Come (review of Year Million)". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- "Jupiter & Matrioshka Brains: History & References". Robert Bradbury. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- Stross, Charles (2006). Accelerando. Ace Books. ISBN 0-441-01415-1.
- Broderick, Damien (2005). Godplayers. Thunder's Mouth. ISBN 1-56025-670-2.
- Sandberg, Anders (December 22, 1999). "The physics of information processing superobjects: Daily life among the Jupiter brain" (PDF). Journal of Evolution & Technology (Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies) 5 (1). Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- "Matrioshka Micronode". Orion's Arm. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- Sandberg, A (22 Dec 1999). "The Physics of Information Processing Superobjects: Daily Life Among the Jupiter Brains" (PDF).