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In the OTU In the Official Traveller Universe. Any milieux that's been published in any edition. Not for discussion of rules except in reference to how they reflect the OTU

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Old September 11th, 2020, 02:56 PM
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Default Technology "Creep"

In the Imperium, especially given the efforts of (some) nobles and one of the missions of the Scouts (to encourage technological progress), it seems there should be some technological creep--by which I mean that a lower-tech culture could make use of and even produce more advanced tech in some cases--say a tech 4 (ca. early 20th Century equivalent) could easily make plenty of tech 5 (1930s) items, and even in theory tech 6 or so (1940s), to a limited extent. Often this would mean bypassing some "primitive" models--say, Wright-brothers fliers, or all the plethora of automobiles (fossil fuel-powered, as well as steam, etc.) to focus on what works best in general.

My question is, how much is this true, and what sort of limits apply? Obviously, a Tech 1 place would have trouble skipping ahead to tech 3 or 4, and skipping to tech 10+ would be pretty absurd, but could a tech 8 world apply tech 10-12 ideas to get there, or would it be too difficult?

Maybe in short, given the availability of the full gamut of technology (in theory), what sort of effect does this have on cultures that are willing to apply it to develop their local technology base?
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Old September 11th, 2020, 06:35 PM
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Technology transfer and the lack thereof in the setting is something I have given a fair amount of thought. Given what we know of human history, I would expect a lot more convergence of tech levels from sharing/transfer of knowledge. When we see instead lots of systems with different TLs, that demands (for me) an explanation.

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Obviously, a Tech 1 place would have trouble skipping ahead to tech 3 or 4,
I tend to disagree. For TL 0 - 6 (covering real world human technologies) there is no technical reason why you wouldn't have convergence to TL 7 or 8 (depending how exactly you define those which varies across Travereller rule sets) within a generation or 3 provided you have a literate society. There is nothing fundamentally stopping low-tech humans from quickly advancing through those TLs when they just have to look up the instructions how to do it rather than make the scientific breakthroughs themselves. As progress is made, the wealth that comes with that progress means more resources available to education and investment and that just spurs more growth.

When I see a system stuck below TL7, I think we need a specific story for why they didn't keep going. Some of my go-to explanations for why they failed to advance are:
1) the population (or at least much of it) is non-human so they just haven't advanced as humans would have;
2) there is a cultural or political reason why they are choosing not to advance (e.g. Amish, ecological preserve, etc. hat tip to Mike W for emphasizing the later);
3) they have genuinely been isolated for some reason and have not had the opportunity to learn (yet).

For TL 8/9+ we are dealing with imagined technologies so we can imagine additional barriers such as:
4) capital & labor intensity of higher TL is enormous; only very large populations will create enough skilled people and be able to assemble enough capital to support high TL mfg. Higher tech levels actually require resources from multiple systems to practicably sustain. If the political environment of a system is not conducive, sufficient capital will not move there to support higher TLs
5) core technologies of higher TLs (good candidates are jump and gravitics, but also possibly power and computing) require resources that are not readily available (this explanation must be used sparingly/carefully if you assume a lot of trade in your universe, because it should be possible to overcome in that case)
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Old September 11th, 2020, 09:58 PM
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Commodore Perry comes knocking on isolationist Japan's door 1850s
Japan is recognized as being one of the West's Great Powers 1918
So some 60 years to work up from TL1-or-2 to TL5.

The sudden rise of the Developing World (out of the Third World) immediately upon the end of the Cold War suggests an uncomfortable explanation or two for low-tech societies surviving for generations despite there being high-tech worlds nearby.
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Old September 12th, 2020, 01:24 AM
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When Perry showed up Japan had limited TL4 Materials Tech, they had a lot of TL3 available but lacked some key techs, there biggest stumbling blocks where an overly stabilized socioeconomics and a lack of key resources (food production cap, lack of access to selected woods & metal ores).

the food production cap limited population and the ability to free up workers to engage in specialized crafts, the lack of key ores meant the advance materials tech was used up compensating for alloys they lacked access to. the lack of selected raw materials and enough enough craftsmen to make tech widely available.

same could be happening all over, not enough domestic food to allow for population, or perhaps too much population is dedicated to domestic food production and off world is too expensive to feed the proles means there is not enough specialist labor outside the agricultural field.

perhaps there is an agricultural revulsion or imported food out compeats local production, rural workers with no marketable skills invade the urban centers and the economy collapses under the weight of the demographic shift.
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Old September 12th, 2020, 08:15 AM
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Another reason (nicked from an SF book - can't recall which)...If you introduce a new technology, you can be sued for loss of earnings by those whose job is disrupted as a result!

Thus a financial disincentive to innovation and a huge benefit to archaeology...No it isn't new it was just unused since IY23.
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Old September 12th, 2020, 10:39 AM
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So here's a curiosity.

What's the general feeling about the ubiquity of fossil fuels?

Is Earth a stand out exception in that regard, or is there tacit agreement that all similar planets have fossil fuels available for extraction and exploitation.

Because lack of cheap energy can certainly stall TL growth.

Would such worlds go deep in to wind and and water power? But does that really scale at "low tech"?

If fossil fuels are not ubiquitous, then a contacted colony effectively needs to jump from wood fires and windmills to fusion technology.

Because there's no reason to wrestle through the tech train, just like there's no reason today to lay land lines for rotary phones when you can plonk a solar powered cell tower down instead.

So, anyway, how much does energy availability impact this.
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Old September 12th, 2020, 11:57 AM
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I use a case by case method. If I have deemed that the low tech planet is filled with people of the same qualities as medieval Japanese then you can see extremely rapid TL rise. If populated by people similar to Kalahari bushmen in nature it might take so long in campaign time that there is never a rise.
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Old September 12th, 2020, 11:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BRJN View Post
The sudden rise of the Developing World (out of the Third World) immediately upon the end of the Cold War suggests an uncomfortable explanation or two for low-tech societies surviving for generations despite there being high-tech worlds nearby.
Not really as many those same areas were stagnant LONG before the 20th century despite thousands of years of contact with higher TL peoples.
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Old September 12th, 2020, 12:41 PM
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1. Japan always seemed to have an intrinsic capacity to rapidly industrialize; towards the end of the Sengoku Jidai, they reportedly had more matchlocks than all of Europe, a rather recent adoption from examples bought from the Portuguese, that drastically changed the nature of Japanese warfare. The Tokugawas decided their primacy depended on freezing social mobility and society. They also had a silk industry.

2. Depends on how fossil fuels are created, there was one interesting theory that oil occurs naturally, which would explain why some dry oil wells suddenly refilled; whether or not it's dinosaur juice, coal occurred because there was no natural cause to breakdown the plant material, back then.

3. In any event, you need an industrial base and an energy source.

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Old September 12th, 2020, 06:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whartung View Post
So here's a curiosity.

What's the general feeling about the ubiquity of fossil fuels?

Is Earth a stand out exception in that regard, or is there tacit agreement that all similar planets have fossil fuels available for extraction and exploitation.

Because lack of cheap energy can certainly stall TL growth.

Would such worlds go deep in to wind and and water power? But does that really scale at "low tech"?

If fossil fuels are not ubiquitous, then a contacted colony effectively needs to jump from wood fires and windmills to fusion technology.

Because there's no reason to wrestle through the tech train, just like there's no reason today to lay land lines for rotary phones when you can plonk a solar powered cell tower down instead.

So, anyway, how much does energy availability impact this.
I think energy availability is likely to be a very important factor.

I do not assume that all worlds have fossil fuels. And the ones that do may not have the same fossil fuel wealth and variety that Earth/Terra has or had.

Klein has a great deal of peat-like nodules but no hard coal and little or no oil. Solar is a bust on such a cloudy world. The settlers made much sue of biomass and woodgas technologies. All this is sufficient for TL 6 needs but does limit economic development.


Biofuels like ethanol might be economical on some colony worlds, for use in internal combustion engines.
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