1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Opinions sought: what kind of technology would be developed if..

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by GingerCoffee, Feb 20, 2014.

    ... a group of people had to start from scratch on a new planet. They arrive with knowledge, computer readers that last a few decades. And they have a few tools, things they brought in packs but they couldn't salvage much from their ship.

    It's now two generations later, they've established a well hidden village, good food sources, they are thriving hunter-gatherers. There is a technologically advanced population elsewhere on the planet that poses a threat they have to stay hidden from.

    So I present this as people that have little technology, not much medicine and a couple people in my critique group keep saying they don't think it's credible these people wouldn't have more technology than in my story.

    So if you had the knowledge of a technological society but none of the technology and started from scratch, plus you had to learn about the resources in your environment, how advanced would this population be in 2-3 generations?

    This is a request for opinions, so it's not something I can research and there is no right and wrong.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    While I think about this, why are they hunter-gatherers rather than farmers? Because they're hiding, or because you're assuming that farming requires more technology than they have?
     
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  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Because they have to stay hidden. As it happens, my protagonist does a little farming in small spaces that she keeps so that they still look like natural areas.
     
  4. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not sure the question makes sense (or maybe I just agree with your critique group.)
    If this group of people arrive at a new planet, presumably they had a space ship? This assumption requires more assumptions. 1. Their previous society was very technology advanced. 2. Ships were in abundance and or 3. The people who took the ship were very capable. If 2, I have to assume the old society had a booming economy (assumption 4), which would mean taking lots of equipment with them would be a cinch. If 3, I have to assume the people were very crafty (assumption 5). Either way, we also have assumption 6, that is, that the people were smart enough to navigate the ship, unless of course (assumption 7) the ship was automated, which presupposes some sort of AI system (assumption 8). Any combination of assumptions 4,5,6, and 8 leads me to believe that your crew would almost absolutely be doing better than jerking around in a village after two generations!

    ****The only other possibility of them having a ship so easily in the first place would be assumption 9, that the government gave them the ship, which of course would lead me to assume they gave them other things as well. Your one possibility is that this is a prison colony, given a cheap ship, minimum resources, and a slight hope at starting a new life.
     
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  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hummm.... Well, my first thought is that communication would probably be very important, so they would want to establish a mechanism that would serve some of the functions of our modern day smartphones. But, since these sorts of things require a large physical infrastructure -- cell towers, underground or above ground cables, etc., I don't know how easily they'd be able to replicate this if they have to stay hidden from this other group of people. I think the need to stay hidden is probably a big barrier to recreating a lot of the technology, at least as far as being able to transmit information to people who are not physically nearby. They could, though, probably come up with ways to store information.
     
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  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    There's a paradigmatic difference between people who have low-tech because they've never had high-tech - they're simple at that stage of cultural evolution - and those who are familiar on a cultural level with high-tech and don't have it now for whatever reason. The knowledge that a given thing is possible because you've seen it and even have a rudimentary understanding of it is a huge leg up from someone who doesn't even know the question is there to be asked or the discovery to be made.

    Example:

    I took chem at university, but only the lowest course possible to fill the requirement because I'm not particularly gifted in those areas of thought, so needless to say, I would never be filling out an application at 3M unless they needed the services of an interpreter. But... because of 3M (cultural knowledge) I know that all kinds of different glues and adhesives are possible. I have a layman's understanding that different adhesives work for different surfaces, some work for many surfaces, some for just a few. I have a layman's understanding of the fact that most adhesives start in nature, that all kinds of plants produce all kinds of different chemicals that may or may not serve. I haven't the foggiest idea how to mix or boil or cool or any of that, but I know that an end product can and does happen. I just have to fill in the knowledge I am missing with trial and error and experimentation.

    Don't know if that example helps or fits the situation, but I think you get the underlying paradigm I'm trying to demonstrate. ;)
     
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  7. Pepsi18
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    Pepsi18 New Member

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    I could see them having little technology if the people they are hiding from keep attcking them. It would be like trying to build a puzzle when at the same someone else is tearing it apart. You will never finish the puzzle or in this case advance your technology. They would have to be pretty good escape artists to not get killed when attacked unless the other people want them alive for some reason.
     
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  8. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    They should have advanced germ knowledge, too. So, they know what causes disease and ways to prevent it. For example, they would build simple plumbing so human waste doesn't get mixed with their food and water.
     
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  9. WoodenPaw
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    WoodenPaw Member

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    I agree with chicagoliz, they need communication first so they can go for communication technologies like Bluetooth and other technologies which require minimal setup and easy to conceal. They also need a energy source to survive night time and to cook food and to do other things which require Energy(Fire), like Fuel cell in night time and solar cell disguised as leaves in day time. and they also need stealth & portable techs in weapons, no explosives at all or weapons which create smokes or flash of light. Architecture tech will be cloth & wood based house or Tents. Medicines will be heavily based on diagnostic logic and knowledge they have from their ancestors, but as they don't have any facility to produce any medicines then they are heavily depends on Forest resources, they will have some protocols on how to deal with communicable & epidemic diseases, they might do not have any medicines at all to deal with communicable diseases so they will create protocol to kill them who are infected before disease spreads and killing them who are infected is a acceptable fate understood by their society. So many possibilities are here to discuss on and I would love to do that, please give us more information.
     
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  10. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I think it all depends on priorities. If you came to the planet with plans things would be somewhat different, smoother. But if they crash on the planet and that's not the plan then whose in charge, what will they do now gets shaken up. People would split into groups, tools would be stolen-lost-broken. Other's would be trying to steal the advanced technology or at least buddy-up to the aliens to learn about it.

    If the people wanted to remain tribal then they'd be okay with having the lower spot on the technological level but seeing as how they're space travelers I don't think they'd be comfortable ( at least not all ) with knowing they're not number 1 in the galaxy. They'd always be striving to get that information.
     
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  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Some of those are yes, but they had to flee into the wilderness area of the planet, they ditched the landers which could easily be found and fled on foot using heat cloaks to avoid being easily seen. All they had fit into their backpacks. And after ~70 years, technical equipment like the readers didn't last that long, but they started making crude books to record the data before the readers failed.

    You can't exactly start manufacturing circuit boards or computer chips. You don't have fuel for motors even if you could make the parts, though they do have some mechanical devices like spinning wheels. You can smelt metals once you find sources. You can't study antibiotic or other medicinal properties of plants without a laboratory.

    It's interesting to see the assumptions people make compared to the ones I did.
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Storing information is a key element of the story. They have a cave full of books that were created over several decades.

    They have a whistle system developed. There are satellites of the technological society that pass overhead. They have taken measures to mask their heat signature. But any kind of electromagnetic waves used to communicate could be detected so they abandoned their communicators with the ship.
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    That's a good one I hadn't thought of. I'm going to research more rudimentary substances. The protagonist is a researcher and she is trying to find plants that have medical uses by proper testing, while some of the others believe things work which really don't (just like here :) )
     
  14. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    This was part of my point but I'm going to have to do a bit more on the setting so the readers aren't thinking along the lines of the critique group.

    There is a reason they aren't found, but I don't want to give the whole plot away. ;)
     
  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    They have a clean village, keep wounds clean, but childbirth is dangerous as are some injuries because they lack antibiotics and medical equipment. I haven't addressed suturing wounds but pain medicine is lacking. They know how to splint a broken bone.
     
  16. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    I would think that if they feel they must remain hidden, then there must be some sort of major threat present. In that case, I'd say that some of the first things they might work on would be defensive: weapons, armor, fortifications, etc... Weapons would also fit with the hunter-gatherer society because they would need an element to kill whatever it is they hunt. Depending on what their level of tech is and the materials available, they may be able to forge some rudimentary axes, bows and arrows, spears, or clubs in two or three generations. If you look at human evolution, the first crude tools we have discovered are in essence weapons. It's a sad but true fact: humans concentrate on killing each other first, then focus on the other things.
     
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  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I get a new computer every 5-6 years. How is anyone's cell phone or other device going to last 70 years? There are few ways one can repair such devices. Even solar powered devices or fuel cells would eventually wear out. They would be able to make crude batteries, how do you make a bulb? They can make some glass but a thin vacuum globe, or an led light, that's trickier.

    You and @peachalulu are thinking along the same lines as the critique group. To me it's so obvious all these devices we depend on and of course one would want, wouldn't last for decades.

    They have decent weapons, (bows of course, as popular as vampires, ;) ). My protag invents clever things like a bacteria light that glows green. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't kill off sick members :eek: isolation would do. But I've taken care of the no epidemics issue in another way.
     
  18. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    They have those things. So you see it they way I do. :)
     
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  19. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The fact that she even knows what proper testing is, her knowledge of eliminating variables, her understanding of how contamination can ruin a test, all of these things bring her centuries ahead of what appear to be her immediate surroundings were one just to glance at her. I mean, crimony, up until how long ago did people believe that shed horse hair in water troughs spontaneously generated into worms, maggots, mosquito larvae, etc? She wouldn't be faced with unlearning centuries of wrong information assumed to be right.
     
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  20. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    As readily as information is available here, it boggles my mind how many people reject scientific evidence based knowledge in exchange for myth and superstition. I figure that won't change anytime soon so people's faulty beliefs are a big part of the story.
     
  21. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have a look at David Weber's "Safehold" series which deals with reintroducing advanced technology (i.e. gunpowder, square rigged sails etc) to a society at war and with a deliberately anti-technology religion, while limited by a satellite system programmed to destroy any signs of "modern" technology. Not exactly the same, but you will get a feeling for the problems and solutions.
     
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  22. AJC
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    AJC Active Member

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    They aren't going to be very advanced by our standards. The planet they're on may not have the same abundance of elements, so some of the technology we have right now may not be possible on that planet. I would say that they would be as advanced as 19th century USA. This means that they'll have steam engines to do work and clocks to keep time with. This is just a guess, however.
     
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  23. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    It seems to me that the biggest hurdles they would run into wouldn't be not know how to make technology, but not having the facilities and infrastructure. If they know what is possible, their biggest barrier wouldn't be rediscovery, but just being able to remake it. And that would depend on the size of the population and how devoted they were to remaking technology.

    If it isn't a priority to them, they might not ever redevelop their previous level of tech. But, if they're striving to achieve higher levels of technology, it wouldn't take all that long really.
     
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  24. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Metals are important. If this is a different planet, who's to say it will even have the same kinds of minerals and ore? Even if it did, it would either take a very very long time find/mine them. That's a pretty big tech barrier.

    It takes a lot of effort and time to make paper from scratch, let alone record on it. But it's still plausible I suppose, and could lead to some scrumptious conflict. I.E. people thinking that the scribes are lazy and not contributing enough, and the scribes arguing among themselves about how their history should be recorded.
     
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  25. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not necessarily true. By the time we have ships capable of taking colonists to other planets, we're going to have a lot of other things. I suspect we will certainly have a "lab on a chip" by that time, and one far beyond the capabilities we strive for today. It should be as simple as grinding up a plant, finding a proper solvent, and injecting it onto a chip the size of your thumb to get whatever data you need (maybe you'll need to attach it to a laser/spectrometer/computer device the size of a modern day computer, but that's no big deal).

    I think your critique group is assuming all the technological benefits that come with a society capable of real space ships. One of the biggest things coming our way is miniaturization. You're going to have all kinds of small crap that can work wonders. Mineral extractors, biomedical chips, synthesizers, whatever. It's not going to take a lab or a factory in the traditional sense. Moreover, I suspect by the time you have ships, all those communication devices they have are going to be running on batteries that degrade over centuries, if at all.

    You can't underestimate the power of science. I didn't think I'd have to be telling that to you :)
     
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