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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 8:41 am 
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Ishmael wrote:

If this sort of thing becomes a limiter of technological advancement, then the track of tech levels could possibly end up looking like a logistics map where the tech levels fluctuate in a chaotic manner, or cycle up and down in a periodic fashion. Such events might appear much like "the Long Night".

Something similar to this did happen several times already at lower real world
technology levels, especially during the process of a culture's adaptation to
a new environment. Cultures new to an environment and therefore without a
good understanding of the sustainability of its ecology sometimes overexploi-
ted the environment with a specific technology (e.g. hunting too many cari-
bou with bow and arrow) and then had to develop a new technology in order
to change their subsistence method (e.g. develop fishing while giving up bow
and arrow).

The higher a technology, the bigger is usually its impact on the environment,
so a spacefaring civilization may well suffer "colonization desasters" which
will also force it to give up some of its technologies (or at least to put them
out of use) and to develop new ones, which at least in the early stages of
their development and implementation will probably be considerably "lower"
than the previously used technologies.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:11 am 
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EDG wrote:
simonh wrote:
I'm not coming up with them. I'm lampooning them.


No, you're failing to understand them, and then picking holes that don't exist based on that misunderstanding.

If you don't think it's a realistic concept then that's fair enough and you're entitled to your opinion, but if you want to discuss it here then you'll do it without insulting people who do think it's a possibility. It is quite possible to disagree with something without being insulting about it.

Now, I'd appreciate it if we got back on topic.


Fair enough. Sorry for overheating a bit.

Simon

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:30 am 
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rust wrote:
The higher a technology, the bigger is usually its impact on the environment,
so a spacefaring civilization may well suffer "colonization desasters" which
will also force it to give up some of its technologies (or at least to put them
out of use) and to develop new ones, which at least in the early stages of
their development and implementation will probably be considerably "lower"
than the previously used technologies.


I was thinking the same thing when I read your point about primitive societies switching technologies. In previous eras we may well have genuinely regressed in technology. When an advanced technology became even temporarily deprecated, it would be forgotten completely in only a generation or two and would have to be re-invented all over again. But with the invention of writing and particularly printing, this becomes less of a problem. Technologies may well go out of use, but so long as they are well documented they can always be recreated with relatively little effort. Especially once you have advanced maker bots, any previously developed technology is available at pretty much the click of a button.

"Geez these guys are primitive. The scouts reported they live in these small rural communities. They have some robots that do all the hard work, I suppose they must have bought them off-world. This invasion is going to be a push-over.

Wait, WHAT? Where did they get those disintegrator rifles from?"

Simon Hibbs

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:34 am 
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As for "perfect" simulations, whether they are "perfect" depends a lot on
whether one views them as representations of the real world or as repre-
sentations of what humans (or aliens) normally perceive of that real world.

For example, a "perfect" simulation for humans can normally ignore all the
elements a human cannot perceive anyway, so with very few exceptions
of unusual situations there is for example no need to include cosmic rays
or ultrasonic sounds in such a simulation. It can also temporarily ignore
all elements of reality a specific person cannot perceive in a specific situ-
ation, from stars not visible with the naked eye to the content of closed
containers - what is in the refrigerator only has to be there when the per-
son opens the refrigerator.

The human brain is very good at supplementing incomplete perceptions,
which becomes very obvious with many optical illusions. As long as a "per-
fect" simulation supplies the "framework" which allows the human brain to
complete the picture, it does not have to actually contain all the details
unless the person begins to focus on them. For example, as in the theater
a certain kind of "white noise" would be readily accepted as the sound of
a crowd of people, the members of the simulated crowd do not have to
say meaningful sentences.

All in all, I think a simulation good enough to be accepted as "perfect" by
humans does not have to simulate more than a few percent of a physical
reality, the few percent a human can perceive at any one time.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 10:20 am 
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simonh wrote:
But with the invention of writing and particularly printing, this becomes less of a problem. Technologies may well go out of use, but so long as they are well documented they can always be recreated with relatively little effort. Especially once you have advanced maker bots, any previously developed technology is available at pretty much the click of a button.

Yes, of course, provided the civilization is prudent enough to store
both the required information and the required raw materials. As far
as I know, many real world governments have some kind of secure
storage of cultural and technological data, including those which cur-
rently seem useless, and also store all kinds of potentially useful raw
materials, encouraged to do so by the risk of a major nuclear war
and the scenario to have to rebuild an entire civilization afterwards.

I think we would also be prudent enough to give a distant colony a
complete copy of such data, especially since data are easy to trans-
port and store, and the necessary raw materials could probably be
found on the other planet, or be replaced by similar materials.
However, I would not find it difficult to imagine a colonization pro-
ject by humans or aliens which fails to include seemingly useless in-
formations, and which could therefore be forced into a technologi-
cal decline and a trial and error reinvention of "outdated" technolo-
gies.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 10:59 am 
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Like the way in Ringworld, Teela Brown doesn't know what an 'axe' is.

We have flint in our garden and I was explaining to my daughters how stone age people used to break and chip away at the stones to make various cutting and scraping tools. I wonder how many people have become stranded in a remote wilderness and died for the lack of what would be basic skills for anyone from a hunter-gatherer society. I suppose what we're talking about is just a slightly larger scale version of the same problem.

Simon Hibbs

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:20 am 
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The fate of the Norse colony on Greenland could be a good real
world example, I think.

The archaeologists who studied the various settlements' middens
discovered that the comparatively high tech Norse were starving,
they even had to eat their last livestock and their hunting dogs,
while the neighbouring comparatively low tech Inuit had enough
meat to just throw away the less tasty parts of it.

Failing to learn the lower, but efficient technology of their neigh-
bours, the colonists had to do with their higher technology, which
was not adapted to the environment, and in the end their colony
disappeared, while the culture of their low tech neighbours con-
tinued to flourish for centuries.

Something as seemingly simple as the "technological decline" from
herding to hunting, from using wooden boats to boats made of ani-
mal skins or from metal tools to tools made of bone and stone could
most probably have saved the Norse colonists.


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