Citizens of the Imperium

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-   -   Sustainable Tech Levels? (http://www.travellerrpg.com/CotI/Discuss/showthread.php?t=39883)

jawillroy February 27th, 2019 11:32 AM

One bit that I noted is that if you apply the "Shipyard capacity" rules from TCS, worlds of population 4 tend to have shipbuilding capacity in the tens of tons, population 5 can manage within the hundreds, and population 6 in the thousands. So even setting budget limitations aside, the smaller worlds don't have the infrastructure to maintain shipyards capable of building major fleets, starport type and tech notwithstanding. I'd say that the type A port with population 3 has the parts and technical knowhow to fix or replace, or build a jump drive - but they don't have the facility for building a whole ship.

In order to maintain that high tech capability, they'd need a regular supply of tools, spares, and so on.

So should that *fail* then it seems as though a few options might follow:
1) the high tech outpost adopts the tech and culture of the nearest, highest developed exporter (Not trivial: there are not many among us who would willingly adopt a tech 6 lifestyle. I suspect abandoning tech level 15 to adapt to a TL 9 or 10 existence would be akin to the population of New York City choosing to live like the Sentinelese*)
2) the outpost collapses, devolving to the lowest tech and population that can survive in isolation on that world, up to and including a complete die-out.

*though I can sympathize with the urge to shoot arrows at incoming traffic on the George Washington Bridge.

jawillroy February 27th, 2019 02:03 PM

There's something to be said for the notion that interstellar tech levels *require* an interconnected interstellar society by definition, and that without connection to other worlds of at least adjacent tech, they'll be hampered at best.

nobby-w February 27th, 2019 04:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kilemall (Post 599516)
Makers and transportable sperm/ovum/DNA and unlimited data storage and robots/biobots can change that equation.

Care to elaborate on that?

Carlobrand February 27th, 2019 11:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nobby-w (Post 599512)
Some studies about space habitats and other related topics came up with some figures: ... That would imply that population 6 is really the minimum to sustain a technological society without external support.

So, tech-level dependent. Primitive agrarian societies did quite nicely with smaller numbers. Things actually got tricky when their population density got up beyond a certain point: they'd start fighting each other and needing to form more complex societies. Probably TL4 or below is fine down to a few hundred population.

There's also the other end: once robots of sufficient ability appear on the scene, they begin to compensate for lower population.

Quote:

Originally Posted by jawillroy (Post 599527)
... there are not many among us who would willingly adopt a tech 6 lifestyle. ...

Well, maybe there's a Society for Creative Anachronism chapter. :D

Quote:

Originally Posted by jawillroy (Post 599530)
There's something to be said for the notion that interstellar tech levels *require* an interconnected interstellar society by definition, and that without connection to other worlds of at least adjacent tech, they'll be hampered at best.

Hard to argue that for populations in the billions since interstellar trade is such a very small part of their economy, at least in the versions that give you data to judge such things by.

Timerover51 February 28th, 2019 01:27 AM

I guess I first look to historical examples of what size populations could support a given Tech Level. First, it might be a good idea to state which edition you are using for Tech Levels, although they are all similar. I will be using the Tech Level Chart in The Traveller Book for Tech Levels.

First, it should be noted that under Tech Level "0", the Stone Age, the following advances were made: the bow and spear-thrower were developed, agriculture appeared along with irrigation, animals were domesticated, pottery was developed, ships of sufficient size and seaworthiness to settle the islands in the Mediterranean and the numerous archipelagos in the Pacific, brick and stone architecture appears, large monuments are built over periods of time, and city-states comprising thousands of people developed, including fortifications. Textiles appeared, made from a variety of materials, and in some cases, small villages and towns were built out over the water, presumable for protection.

The Greek and Italian city-states did not seem to have many problems supporting a Bronze or Iron Age Tech Level of 1, so a few thousand would be adequate for that Tech Level.

Tech Level 2, circa 1400 to 1700, so the introduction of gunpowder and cannon into the technology base, as well as the developed sailing ship and warship. Against that, none of those developments was that excessively labor intensive, so a population level of a few thousands to tens of thousands of inhabitants should be more than adequate.

Tech Level 3, circa 1700 to 1860, and Tech Level 4, circa 1860 to 1900, probably are going to require a larger population, on the order of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands

Once you get to Tech Level 5 and 6, the population needs go up. Great Britain had no problem producing all of the material for Tech Level 5 with a population in the tens of millions, with about 46 million people all told. It they had not had their economy so badly damaged by World Wars One and Two, Tech Level 6 should not have been a major problem. Tech Level 7 might be a bit iffy, but attainable.

Once you get into Tech Level 8 and higher, I start thinking of a population in the upper tens of millions to hundreds of millions for self-sufficiency. You probably could manage with a population in the mid tens of millions for Tech Level 8 and higher if some of the information is imported, or basic models to be duplicated are available.

mike wightman February 28th, 2019 03:52 PM

Automation and robotics/computer control mean that the population requirements then start dropping from TL7+

A car factory today employs an order of magnitude less staff, similarly farms can produce an order of magnitude more produce thanks to automation and machinery.

As TL rises to the science fictional rather than historical you can expect even greater productivity.

jawillroy February 28th, 2019 04:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mike wightman (Post 599563)
Automation and robotics/computer control mean that the population requirements then start dropping from TL7+

A car factory today employs an order of magnitude less staff, similarly farms can produce an order of magnitude more produce thanks to automation and machinery.

As TL rises to the science fictional rather than historical you can expect even greater productivity.

At the same time, don't those factories still depend on resources from other countries produced at lower levels of automation? We might have some gee-whiz-awesome factories assembling a car, but you've still got assembly lines producing the individual components elsewhere.

kilemall February 28th, 2019 06:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nobby-w (Post 599534)
Care to elaborate on that?


Sure.


The makers and robo/biobots would be all about supplanting human labor so major populations are freed up to do creative or engineering things.

The genetic material is an easy way to promote genetic diversity on even the farthest colony worlds- if you can get a low berth to the planet and they can do fertilization, the colony can introduce new genes on low impact infertility treatments or support major birthing/gene pool enhancement efforts.

The unlimited data part is about the knowledge transfer to maintain the educational systems to keep up the tech. It would also have the tech skill packages for the robots, possibly mRNA skill implants for sophonts/biobots, and at a high enough tech level the captured templates for creating sperm/ovum out of tissue makers from raw data.




What lower pop would do to research is limit how many lines of work could be done at a time, stretching out development over longer periods and/or having to do just a few critical items. Such a planet would likely stalemate on just maintaining it's setup tech.

A smaller pop would be vulnerable to tech crash due to a critical segment being harmed/destroyed by events, sophont-made or natural, or moving onto another planet. If the maker engineers were gone for instance, I would expect the TL to devolve quickly.

So that is an argument again for the pop to be increased to your levels for disaster redundancy, through a concentrated babymaking initiative.

Another factor is that only a certain percentage of the population si going to be good for high-end engineering/manage bots and the rest not, so you have to have numbers for that unless it is some sort of dystopian eugenics society.




So initial TL and then challenges to maintaining and growing, which probably involves growing to your suggested levels long term but which can do reasonably well with less pop.

Note I am talking about a setup colony, not an entirely isolated civilization.

Timerover51 February 28th, 2019 07:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mike wightman (Post 599563)
Automation and robotics/computer control mean that the population requirements then start dropping from TL7+

A car factory today employs an order of magnitude less staff, similarly farms can produce an order of magnitude more produce thanks to automation and machinery.

As TL rises to the science fictional rather than historical you can expect even greater productivity.

The agricultural production increases are already cranked in, and I did allow for Tech Level 8+ at population levels of the tens of millions. There is a limit as to how much food you can produce per acre no matter how advanced you get, unless you can produce continuously, which is not cheap unless you are in the tropics on a fairly standard atmosphere planet.

You still need a certain amount of people in infrastructure work and also as the Tech Level rises, you are going to have increases in service industries. I see a population in the tens of millions, and the higher tens of millions at that, as the minimum for very high Tech Levels.

whartung February 28th, 2019 09:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jawillroy (Post 599564)
At the same time, don't those factories still depend on resources from other countries produced at lower levels of automation? We might have some gee-whiz-awesome factories assembling a car, but you've still got assembly lines producing the individual components elsewhere.

Not necessarily. Considering car parts, the entire supply chain is heavily automated. At all levels, workers are there to either support the machines, or for the specific stages of assembly and evaluation where the modern robots simply don't have the dexterity or judgement to be able to do the job. Any major subsystem is a series of automated steps with
manual intervening steps.

The industry is large and lucrative enough to be able to afford continual improvements in automation and streamlining manufacturing.

Part of the issue, specifically with things like cars, especially cars to America and Europe, is simply standards of manufacture require modern automation to be met. Materials, tolerances, assembly, etc. We pay a premium for it. That's why you don't (necessarily) want to buy, say, an Indian or Chinese vehicle compared to a Japanese or Korean one. And 30 years ago, folks said the same things about Korean cars.

It's not that the Chinese or Indians CAN'T make higher quality components, they simply service markets with less money that can't afford the prices of the higher quality components.

iPhones are assembled in China to very high standards, yet you just know that right next door is another factory assembling some other gizmo to a lower quality standard for less money.

BMWs has motors manufactured in China. It's an Austrian design, "German engineering", and I don't know where the parts are sourced (but also likely China), but the assembly is in China. For some consumers, this is a point of contention. But it's a knowledge sharing, education, training, and workplace culture thing -- and much of that can be transplanted to a new labor force. But don't think that this line is any more primitive than one in Munich. It's more a overall labor savings plus parts sourcing and logistics thing to place the plant in China.

As robotics get better, more dextrous, better vision, better judgement, better "feel" for soft "fit" issues, better working with soft materials (like sewing fabric), they will slowly replace manual labor. Add in "light-sentience" (for lack of a better word) to make them easier to train (vs "move 34.7 cm left, drop 5cm down, rotate at 3700 RPM using tool 7...") and make them more general purpose. But even if they're bone stupid, they're likely worth programming.

Also, in a realm like Traveller, it's not like this level of automation doesn't exist. Even better, it's a durable good. No reason you can't import "TL15 robot seamster" to stitch clothing together, train up a staff to replace FRU (field replaceable units) that are kept in stock to maintain the line. Don't need to be an AI wiz to run a robot, just to make one in the first place.


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