It’s no secret that we’ve long been fascinated by the sea and the idea of an underworld community. From Atlantis to science fiction movies, it isn’t just scientists that have a deep curiosity for what it would be like to live under the sea. Chinese scientists are now taking that curiosity to a new level with their proposed underwater artificial intelligence colony.

Deep under the South China Sea, there may be a new completely robot run underwater sea base coming in the near future. This will be the first artificial intelligence colony in the world. The project is named after Hades, the ruler of the underworld in Ancient Greek Mythology. Scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing recently announced their history-making plans to the South China Morning Post.

The Project

After the urging of Chinese President Xi Jinping, scientists and engineers began getting to work on this new frontier. Xi is hoping to be a scientific trailblazer in this new artificial intelligence landscape. The project will be located in the Hadel zone. This V-shaped abyss is the deepest part of the ocean. It’s approximately 19,000-36,000 feet at it’s deepest points. This futuristic endeavor will cost the Chinese over $160 million dollars in taxpayer funds to complete.

This underwater compound will feature robots with docking platforms that are built to stand up to the deep pressures found that far below the water’s surface. The robots will be submarines that will be constantly collecting data on life forms, minerals, and activity deep under the sea. The data collected in the self-contained lab will then be sent through reports on land. The base will still require power sources on land to run but it will be completely autonomous in terms of human interaction down below.

The Potential Impact

Politically, The South China Sea is one of the most conflicted bodies of water in the world. There are seven different territories that are currently in conflict over the region. To persuade their foes to cease conflict over this region, President Xi and the project’s scientists are offering to share the technology and data with the neighboring regions.

Other than the political implications, there are also several potential environmental problems that could occur. Going this deep into the sea you’re more likely to run into an extreme and highly volatile environment. The sea floor has high pressures and extreme geology. Erosion and quakes are very common this deep and precautions will need to be accounted for to keep the technology safe and running smoothly. This alone could easily up the conservative budget projected for the project.

Since the facility will be so far under the water, it will be much stronger and more condensed than something similar that would be built on the land. Most of the costs of the project would go towards developing the materials and the technology that can withstand these harsh conditions. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have estimated that almost 95 percent of the ocean floor has never been explored before. This will almost be like exploring an entirely new planet. The key will be lowering the base far enough to capture new and useful scientific data while keeping it above the volcanic and landslide eruption that occurs the deeper you go.

The Desired Location

Scientists are targeting The Manila Trench as one of the potential locations for the base. This is where the Pacific plate meets the Eurasian plate and geologically, it holds a lot of potentially new and useful information. Although the volcanic activity is extreme here, the geological information is carried from the Earth’s mantle through thermal vents.

Some of the world’s biggest earthquakes are also found in the trench. Chinese geologists predict that a quake from this region could cause a deadly tsunami reaching Hong Kong within hours. The political, and scientific implications could make China a powerhouse in many areas. The data collected and the technology created would be the first in the world and could lead to some major innovations and scientific discoveries.