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If a small group of an advanced civilization got stranded in a medieval-like society on another planet and they start to interact in a peaceful way, what would be the first technologies that they could teach to them? For this, consider the following type of technologies:

  • They know FTL technology (although they don't have any available)
  • They have lasers weapons, high tech armors and force field technologies
  • Their computers have AI
  • Their communicators can reach a whole planet
  • They were able to learn to communicate in the language of that medieval society.
  • Their own planet is out of reach, either physically or via communication.
  • They are almost like a regular human, except for their skin color (green). For all purposes, their physiology is similar to human. The people in the medieval society are human.
  • The planet is similar to our Earth.

How much can they improve the technology in that society in a short span of time (maybe a year)? Would they "skip" some levels of technology (like the first gunpowder technologies)?

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    $\begingroup$ since they are peaceful i guess computer (they can make advance robotic right?) that would help them for increase production and workforce to early industrialize them, that unless they dont get accused as satanic or witch by the mass or religions though. $\endgroup$ – Li Jun Sep 13 at 3:12
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    $\begingroup$ Technology is far from being the first step... Why would the "medieval-like" society want to learn something from the devious green devils? Have the aliens conquered the medieval society? If so, then the medieval society is no longer, it's dead. The aliens can use the conquered slaves to dig ditches or whatever. If they haven't conquered the medieval society, then you are in a well-known position of attempting cultural transfer between two cultures. Have the Americans finished teaching Indians to dig latrines? Has the European Union finished teaching the Arabs to stop killing themselves? $\endgroup$ – AlexP Sep 13 at 6:49
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    $\begingroup$ Any tech is useless without infrastructure to support it. Like, modern you can't just fly to remote island/jungle settlement on Earth and give laptop to the tribesmen and expect it would help them in any way. For them it would be just a weird clam thing, that can glow and show strange stuff in presence of the alien; and that does nothing when aliens with their generators and antennas and etc not around. $\endgroup$ – user28434 Sep 13 at 11:31
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    $\begingroup$ What is the goal of this group? Are they looking for technologies to spread by themselves, maximizing their effect on the entire planet, or build industrial base in one place without much concern of the rest of the planet? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Sep 13 at 16:44
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    $\begingroup$ Replace "a small group of an advanced civilization" with "you, a time-traveling tourist with a broken time machine" and "another planet" with "Earth", and this is basically the "plot" of How to Invent Everything. $\endgroup$ – AuxTaco Sep 14 at 0:07

14 Answers 14

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A year isn't going to cut it, you're looking at about a generation at least for any noticeable progress.

The problem is the lack of industrial base. Medieval society is a hair's breadth above subsistence farming. Technology is largely driven and supported by population pressures, without that they don't have the need to progress nor to maintain anything you might teach them. They're going to need a cultural bootstrap first to get them up to a level to be able to spend time studying.

Your first problems are medical and maternity care. You need some surplus population, so you need them to stop dying in childbirth and to stop dying in childhood. This isn't so much a technology as a service you're going to be providing for the duration.

Now you need a cultural change, long drop toilets and shoes, to prevent hookworm infection (among other things) which can put a serious crimp on intellectual development. Don't underestimate this, the reputation of the US "South" for being lazy and dimwitted is based on the hookworm problem.

Next you need decent nutrition and surplus food. Again, the intelligence of the adults you first encounter may have been limited by substandard nutrition. This requires you to get them off subsistence strip farming and onto larger fields and bulk production. The 4 field crop rotation system and other similar "fundamental" technologies haven't yet come along.

You should now have a society in approximately the position Britain was at the start of the industrial revolution. Surplus population looking for work that's not in the fields and ready to start your technological revolution.

So what can you teach in a year?

To the population:

Sanitation, the importance of the long drop rather than just going in the woods.

4 field system, you'll probably find them on a 2 or 3 field system already, it's an incremental improvement.

To the elites:

Better mathematics, mechanics, physics, the basics of elements and the periodic table

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    $\begingroup$ You can teach sanitation, but that doesn't mean it will be adopted. In the mid-1800s, Ignaz Semmelweis had excellent evidence that hand washing dramatically reduced mortality in an obstetric clinic, but his results were met with complete indifference by the medical community. Getting the serfs to practice good hygiene might take much more than a year. $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Wang Sep 13 at 14:39
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    $\begingroup$ @NuclearWang, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is now. It might take a couple of centuries to teach them, so starting early is all you can do. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Sep 13 at 14:43
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    $\begingroup$ Note: if you are good enough at dealing with the social problems then TECHNICALLY a single generation should be enough to bring people up to any technology level that the person's mind is capable of. If you started training all babies there is no reason that they wouldn't grow up as capable as the race will get. $\endgroup$ – Bill K Sep 13 at 16:31
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    $\begingroup$ It's not just high technology either, it's internalized patterns of thinking and "professional" disciplines (they don't have to actually professionalize, but the skill needs to exist and be preserved from generation to generation). In 20th century Seattle, people "knew" about sewage systems for sanitation, but the one they actually built (a single, narrow pipe made out of wood draining below the tideline of the ocean) was a disaster. $\endgroup$ – Upper_Case Sep 13 at 19:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Mark, subsistence farming is a touch above starvation rather than famine, the key is that it's scalable depending on available labour until good land is limited, but it stays that same touch above starvation. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Sep 14 at 8:44
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The situation you describe is almost exactly (part of) the plot from the book "A Fire Upon the Deep". Which in my opinion presents a very plausible level of success. In fact the specifications you offer (1 year-ish time period, lack of homeworld contact for the high tech people) match the conditions in the book very closely.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Fire_Upon_the_Deep

In this story two nations on the medieval planet are on the verge of war and (for plot reasons) it is desirable that one nation win this war for our (small, I think 4 people?) band of people from the high-tech FTL civilisation.

They introduce gunpowder and radio communication. They specifically DO skip some technologies (muzzle loading cannon - early gunpowder technology). Note that in the book our protagonists from space have no intention of hanging around and don't really care about the long term health of the medieval planet at all, they just need the war to go a certain way.


As an interesting side point the book "Fire Upon the Deep" is set in the far future and the protagonists "go online" to the future-istic galactic internet-equivalent to look up something like: "how do I tech up some barbarians quickly", and find enormous amounts of theoretical material to help them. I like to think that this thread is one of the ones they looked at.

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    $\begingroup$ Was a great book, and surely they went to worldbuilding.SE to resolve their issue. $\endgroup$ – JackArbiter Sep 13 at 23:19
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    $\begingroup$ To be fair, the natives very rapidly understood the technological advances that the humans had access to and were naturally curious enough to seek answers. The humans just had a bit of bad luck regarding where they came down, when, and who was around (that is to say, in the middle of a war and the dictatorship got its paws on some of the best stuff). Also, poor Radio, only allowed to be himself on rare occasions. $\endgroup$ – Draco18s Sep 14 at 2:29
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  • Basic sanitation, including the germ theory of many diseases.
  • Animal husbandy and plant improvement based on Mendelian genetics.
  • If they have the data and sensors, mid-term weather forecasts. Imagine a serf knew that there would likely be two more dry and sunny weeks before the harvest is due.
  • Food preservation technologies like canning (this requires jars or tins, of course).
  • Understanding the impact of nature and nurture on human development; the children of the serfs can become engineers if you teach them.
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    $\begingroup$ Children of the serfs weren't becoming engineers not because there were no-one to teach them, but because their hands were needed in field. $\endgroup$ – user28434 Sep 13 at 11:33
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If the goal is truly technological transfer, nothing meaningful is going to happen in a year.

There is a saying I've encountered while working in sales-related capacities, which is that you never sell a product, you sell the lifestyle that a product makes possible. I think that that's an important element here. Early interactions will be largely gifts, as the medievals won't have anywhere near the requisite knowledge to understand many of the aliens' everyday technology but may need to see some dramatic possibilities to be convinced that learning is worthwhile.

The accrued, maintained knowledge of technology is incredibly important to building, deploying, maintaining, and enjoying the benefits of technology. "Teaching" technology can only mean giving the group the ability to enjoy that technology into the future without need for the givers' involvement.

In Asmiov's first Foundation novel,

A militarily weak but technologically advanced group dominates a technologically weak but militarily more powerful group by ensuring their access to advanced technology but explicitly denying them the knowledge needed to understand or maintain it themselves.

So while your extra-civilizational aliens can demonstrate some mind-shattering capabilities, none of the examples in the question can be plausibly "taught" to them very quickly.

Even if the aliens can gift a functionally unlimited number of computers along with a functionally unlimited number of copies of Windows for Dummies, thereby allowing the medievals to enjoy what computers have to offer, it'll be a very long time before the medievals can actually produce, repair, or even broadly understand their computers.

The aliens themselves may not even have a strong practical understanding of the technologies that the medievals are ready to absorb-- having a super high-tech sani-pod toilet isn't realistic to transfer, but indicates that the need to know how to dig an ideal latrine trench is pretty far in the past for the aliens. The aliens may not really know how to solve medieval problems, in the same way that many modern people don't know how to grow, forage, or hunt for food effectively. We may understand various principles which apply, but do not have a working knowledge of how to really do the task itself.

Instead the aliens will need to provoke changes to how the medieval society operates such that the capacity to learn, preserve, and transmit new technological information across generations will exist. There are a few broad categories which may be involved:

  • Food surplus: Medieval labor was almost absurdly allocated to food production, typically of necessity. Reducing the need to work in the fields will allow more people to study and learn what is necessary to "gain" new technologies. In particular you'll need to see that students have time to study, and teachers have time to teach. Better food production and storage are achievable, and will be immediately valued.
  • Hygiene/Nutrition/Basic Health Maintenance: Lots of medieval people died and/or were malnourished in various ways. The aliens don't need to fix everything, but some basic ideas (like handwashing with soap, safe disinfection practices, adequate heating of dangerous foods, etc.) will not only increase the health and capabilities of many people but will also help them live longer (to learn more, and participate in transmitting knowledge to future generations).
  • Literacy/Large-scale Printing/Information Storage and Curation/Redundancy: It doesn't take much complexity before oral transmission becomes awkward, and it scales poorly. But a society that becomes used to the ideas of storing knowledge in a retrievable format, referencing that knowledge, and protecting it from loss will be far more capable of "learning" new technologies.
  • A suitable industrial base: Technological advances in this scenario will often require production and processing of many components, such as specific metals, solvents, buffers, and many others. To be able to "have" higher technology, the medievals will need an economy that is capable of producing and servicing that technology. Some of these industries will need an extra boost, as they won't be useful without the technology they enable, but the medievals will need to be capable of sourcing and producing their own inputs, which in turn will require transmission of knowledge about things like geology, engineering, chemistry, metallurgy, and more. The more tech you want to give, the more of this the medievals will need.
  • Better/More advanced engineering: The medievals are probably going to be pretty aware of different limitations, like building height, from their own experiences. Some quick, dramatic improvements are probably possible with alien intervention, and specialized knowledge may already exist (such as the masons' guilds in medieval Europe).
  • Some sociopolitical ideas: Specifically, the medievals will need to be prepared for (relatively) rapid changes in their society compared with how things have been for generations. As a significant example, suddenly freeing up a lot of labor from the fields will produce a lot of people who need something to do during the day, and will need to access things (like food) through some new avenue as their customary labor is no longer needed. A medieval economy is unlikely to have a whole lot of job alternatives or labor market slack, and bad consequences are definitely possible.

There are more, but this is a very basic sampling of some elements that would help prepare a medieval society to adopt new technologies.


It will also depend on the state of knowledge of the medieval society. If they don't have good chemists or biologists, but do have some pretty advanced mathematics, then a curriculum starting with math and then branching to, say, engineering might do well. Teaching microbiology (in any practical way) may be impossible, as the medievals won't have the technology to build the things that can demonstrate the information to be true, let alone used-- they won't be mass-producing penicillin any time soon.


If the goal is truly technology transfer (rather than a quick, focused boost in specific directions), then a good additional step might be things which are empirically useful without a full understanding of the underlying theories.

As an example, there is a huge amount of applied statistics which could be conveyed that would quickly and noticeably cause improvements in health, productivity, and risk mitigation. And a lot of it can be done without technology beyond modest math, things to write on, and things to write with. This is useful in itself, and could also promote the idea that studying abstract knowledge is a valuable way for individuals to spend their time.

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The other answers are excellent and thought provoking, but I’d argue that you need to invent the printing press almost immediately. Without reasonable speed of instruction, it will be difficult to teach the necessary skills to bootstrap many of the other improvements. Of course, this does require a significant push for literacy, but I'd argue that many of the other advances require this in any case.

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Not so much of an answer, but I'm not allowed to comment yet. Anyway there is an Anime currently airing called Dr. Stone featuring some guy who seems to know basically everything from todays science. The plot is, that every human was petrified for several thousand years and thus every piece of technology is gone. So he wakes up and finds some other humans with the technology of the stone age.

He starts to recreate the modern technologies step by step, some to impress the people to gain their support, some to secure his well being. I'm sure you can at least get some good Ideas out of it.

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From a technology point of view, aliens can create and study a set of independent (advanced weapons required for negotiations with authorities) small closed guilds a-la "free masons" which would be able to keep (and develop very slowly) technologies on semi-religion basis in generations. The technologies should be a set of precalculated tables and some "secret" ritual-like techniques (AI required to make information system which is stable in multiple rewriting in generations)

This guilds should be:

1) "Free masons" as is - builders with advanced knowledge (tables!) of material strength and tensions, algorithms for stability calculations.

2) "Free gunners" - gunpowder, guns and explosives of different sort.

3) "Free miners" - with knowledge of minerals and were to find them and how to mine them

4) "Free blacksmiths" - just a lot of recipes of different metal alloys.

5) "Free clockmakers" - for advanced machinery. Aliens can leave steam,combustion engine ideas for them, but they will not be able to reproduce it in a given time. Electricity knowledge goes here (in form of Volt element mostly), but will be of a limited use (galvanics). Some electromagnetic generators and devices can be given to this guild as a predesigned artifacts for wild-coping. But there main purpose is complex tools production (like looms or precise boring mills)

5) Alchemists - chemistry as it is, but in a more "magical" context (there are magical numbers in chemistry after all)

6) Medics - at least antibiotics and hygiene

7) Journalists - printing press, newspapers and so on.

All these guilds should support and help each other (like clockmakers creating tools for masons and alchemists - portions for medics), but keep there knowledge in a secret. If they don't - they would be wiped out and there knowledge would be lost.

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There are two sides to the problem. The first is technical and it's easy--if you can get the training tools and information to children, the next generation will have the full level of understanding and knowledge the race is capable of receiving, you are done training them and they will be as advanced as your children of the same age (assuming the same capacity). You don't have to teach the adults anything.

This first trained generation will immediately implement the steps necessary to improve their homes and cities without your interference--they will do what they can and built what they need to take the next step.

The second part, however, is much harder--the social aspect. You are very likely to run into problems from the previous generations, mostly a resistance to change in general and even more to being rendered powerless and obsolete. They might try to prevent the training--most likely calling it brainwashing. A smart enough race would probably have the social engineering skills to get around this.

Aside: Isn't it funny how we always portray advanced races as technically superior but assume they don't have a clue about social engineering? An advanced race should be able to socially engineer such a backwards race in a way that was undetectable and more effective than any military defeat. The only books I can think of that gave social engineering a fair shake was Asimov's foundation.

In part I think this indicates how clueless we are as a race about social engineering--we don't even think of it as much of a science, at this point I think we know more about quantum mechanics.

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Many answers so far identify the primary issue as social/cultural, but none feel like they hit that aspect squarely. I started thinking about it, then realised that the book "Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" was actually the prototype for a good answer. So I'll draw freely from that book, below.

Your problem is that your aliens are a small group of outsiders, in a medieval setting. They want to quickly pervade society with completely new ideas and inevitably, also with major social implications. For a handful of beings to change a whole society's technological and social basis, it has to overcome huge inertia. That was the issue which ultimately destroyed the protagonist in Mark Twain's story. So we need to do better.

And we have a year to do it, for the OP....

That said, I think Mark Twain's protagonist had the right idea. It was just executed without thinking enough about the massive upcoming backlash.

Medieval society

Medieval society is top down. Like many modern dictatorships, it's a "strong man" hierarchy. Seizing the top, and consolidating an iron control over the layers below it, is essential to any new pervasive knowledge, skills, or change. Your aliens can do this; they can detect and monitor society far better than Twain could have realised, and we can assume them to be socially competent and have many many more ways to head off a troublemaker, than just execution. Twain used ridicule, we could think of many ways to remove possible flashpoints and figureheads, and awe the society so much that rebellion doesn't happen. That includes bringing them to describe what's happening and its benefits (genuine reeducation, not the Chinese version!), finding their priorities and marketing the changes to them in desirable terms, offering them power or safety (we don't care about lower power levels so why not), flooding society with miraculous information - a visual broadcast in every town and village, a holographic alien projection in charge of every settlement, the image of the alien council in the sky from all parts of the country.

In short, control the top, and ruthlessly awe and dominate the rest. Install those willing to follow in the top layers below you and remove silently all opposition (education or death, you choose). Do whatever is needed, so that you can direct that a given action, or social practice, will happen, and be sure it will, regardless whether it seems confounding to the existing people. Then and only then, will you be able to promulgate all the skills and technological bootstrapping, you need, as fast as possible.

That will be your fastest way. Much faster, and much more certain, than trying to convince people to do weird non-traditional stuff in towns and villages across the country. Take control, dominate, and place yourself in a position where you can make such directions and be sure they'll happen. Then, when you do, it will already be a social norm that "we do what our overlords say", and inertia will be far less an issue or not at all, in practise.

Order of teaching

I've divided this into three areas. They can all be done in parallel.

1) Technology

Control can be fast. Really fast. Once you have sure control, you can rely on it to skip steps, or do things in parallel. For example -

  • Mining certain ores: You'll need those for manufacturing, as well as for products. Think of having the right kind of raw materials in production for steel, for furnaces, steel, and the start of mass production - tools and transport.
  • Producing relatively pure water: Not for health, but again for manufacturing. The OP focuses on teaching technology not healthcare. You need basic raw materials for that, and water that's relatively clean is needed in many industrial processes.
  • Furnaces: The major forms of mass production will need furnaces in their supply chain - think quick ways to produce glass, metals, and later, for welding or power production.
  • Transport/logistics: You'll need to task a part of the population with transport, until you bootstrap to a point of having reliable tools, and basic engineering for things like wheels and profiled steel.

What is interesting is, if the aliens vanish, those types of industrial precursors will probably continue to be maintained so long as social order exists. They really are fundamentals.

2) Education

A second stream will be education. If you just focus on teaching, and leave aside any implementation, your aims crudely are (1) to get key knowledge out there and saturated in society, and (2) a smaller group of advanced scholarship/knowhow underway.

My rationale here is that changing healthcare, education etc is a huge slow undertaking and won't meet the OP need of technological improvement within a short time. What's much better is to teach many people a 6 month crash course in knowledge and knowhow - then send them back to their communities, where they can autonomously use that knowledge as they see fit. The knowledge will pervade much faster, and be used in particular for goals that you set, and actual societal needs.

So for example, you teach hundreds of people, high school (16-to-college) mathematics, or basics of medicine/sanitation, or essentials of chemistry and physics, or principles of engineering, and an overview of basic technologies (tools, power generation, etc). Then send them away and teach the next batch.

The knowledge will pervade and be used towards your goals, without draining your resources to implement a medical system or educational system. The systems will spontaneously arise if you educate widely.

Of note - writing takes time to learn. Most people aren't literate. You don't have time to fix that. Use AV or VR or holograms or verbal teaching instead, for now. I don't think printing will help you for the while, as you are trying to teach such new concepts that a book won't help. Better to teach and develop things initially at least, by showing and by training, not by circulating books.

3) Societal structures for technology to develop

Last, you'll need some basic structures. We use corporations and government established bodies as vehicles to do works. Your society doesn't have those and will need them, or something like them. Meaning, they need a way to mobilise wealth and cooperation, to establish engineering companies that produce basic tools and components, basic sanitaryware, basic products and services of other kinds, standardisations as needed.

Fortunately you control the hierarchy. You order it so.

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Some basics which are freebees (as in, teachable immediately):

  • The wheelbarrow
  • Iron plow
  • Oxen yoke
  • The stirrup

Some slightly longer-term (but simple):

  • The flying buttress in architecture
  • Punctuation
  • Standardized spelling
  • The caravel in ship design
  • The printing press
  • Utensils for food
  • Crop rotation
  • Calculus
  • Watches
  • CPR Emergency medical procedures
  • An understanding of germs and infection
  • Improved metallurgy
  • Improved road construction

Realistically, there are two major bottlenecks in the middle ages. First is survival but more important is the ability to communicate over distance. It means that scientific concepts propagate and can build on each other.

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    $\begingroup$ CPR almost always results in some serious medical help immediately afterward. I'd hold off on that, since it'll rarely help anyway at this time--even if you revived them, they'd just die of the original problem again right away. Better to teach how the heart and lungs work in general, and CPR can come a few generations later. $\endgroup$ – Hosch250 Sep 13 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ Calculus is going to be highly dependent on exactly where their mathematical notation is and what they are already doing. Unless they are relatively late medieval, there's not going to be that strong incentive. The really easy pieces in terms of math would be double-entry bookkeeping and modern algebraic notation. Those will have a pretty big impact and once one has those, then going to calculus and other modern areas of math becomes more useful. But one really needs to lay a lot of groundwork first. $\endgroup$ – JoshuaZ Sep 13 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Hosch250, agree, CPR is, in the circumstances, of questionable utility. If a person has cardiac arrest in a modern hospital, so absolutely best circumstances, maybe 25% will live long enough to be discharged. If someone witnesses a person drop outside a hospital and can start CPR right away, and medical response can get there quickly and transport them to hospital, it's 16%. If you happen across someone so there was an unknown delay, it's less than 5%. If modern medical intervention isn't there, less than 1%. I've had to perform CPR 14 times in medical emergencies over the years; none lived. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Sep 13 at 20:40
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The 1632 series is a many-book-long exploration of this topic. In this series, a 1999-era West Virginia town transfers technology to early-modern-era Earth. The premise that that the Americans arrived via time travel implies that faster-than-light travel is possible, even if the Americans have no idea how.

The first technologies that the Americans seek to transfer are:

  • A credible demonstration that existing military technology is obsolete.
  • A credible demonstration that it is not worthwhile to try to wipe out the Americans.
  • A credible demonstration that the Americans are willing to give away wonderful technologies.
  • A credible demonstration that it is not worthwhile to try to establish a worldwide monopoly on access to the up-time technologies.
  • Literacy.
  • Libraries.
  • The scientific method.
  • Credible fiat money.
  • Personal grooming kits. They are cheap, encourage good hygiene, and associate "higher status" with "early adopter of technology".

Beyond that, major themes include:

  • Tools to make tools to make tools to…
  • Better roads
  • Better rolling stock
  • Locally made products
  • Organizations run by locals, with advice from "up-timers"
  • Allow reinvestment of profits (which requires limiting government expenditures, making the tax system less arbitrary, and reducing corruption)
  • Better sanitation
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since they are peaceful i guess computer (they can make advance robotic right?) that would help them for increase production and workforce to early industrialize them, or as revolutionary warfare like drone warfare.

that unless they dont get accused as satanic or witch by the mass or religions though.

and when i say computer, i mean an advance automaton(which exist in medieval) or robot not just literal pc or laptop, or other automatic engine/machine like advance farm tractor.

that will make the people have more free time and food, and not require to wait till a lot of population to work or teach with, since with the help of the AI computer mean early industry, so you can mass produce the stuff without need many human worker,

weapon and armor technology is your alien self defense your alien maybe peaceful but the environment and the people here may not, so i suggest to never teach them that.

FTL definitely not the first since it probably require other advance technology such as metalurgy,computer, and fuel, etc (i dont know much about FTL technology but i believe it require alot of stuff) also including to teach massive of people which require an established trust first hand.

communicator probably the second because first it probably use by the alien to interact to gain trust before teaching the people how to build their advance communication.

and computer AI will ease them on this other advance technology developments, or help the people to learn, or help advance and discover their own invention.

and although i dont know how long such ai computer will improve the technology of the society, i believe it can give massive boost to other technology developments.

and for energy or fuel source, medieval society already know oil so the alien may can tell them that oil is a nice source of energy, unless the alien have better alternative fuel than oil.

also printing press exist in medieval era, and basic printing machine exist before that like in asia especially china and middle east at least some reach europe, so learning advance computer is not far fetch for the medieval people at least for the scholar type like monk which have a lot of free time compare to commoner peasant, but they are not dumb as people think they just dont have free time to be literate nor have the resource.

and depend on the era medieval people actually wash or take a bath alot (until black death make people never take bath from the superstition of public bath, and conotation with prostitution workplace) and they even have soap so medieval people actually know some basic sanitation.

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You may want to consider European Medieval Society was based on a stratified society that in general reinforced the idea of immutable way of life. Change happened slowly, generally in realm of a weapons race but even that took centuries.

  1. The average mid-level feudal lord was not that responsive about a means to improve the lives of the serfs, for that was a way to control them. But, talk about a way to take over the next kingdom and you have his ears. I may sound a bit jaded, or even like Karl Marx, but thing in a pragmatic way: if his realm gets more productive, the neighbors might get jealous, so he need first and foremost to ensure invasions will not happen.

  2. The church had a lot of control, and it was based on it being the source of all that was truth. One could argue it was to their interest to control information, primarily to keep the masses under control but also to do the same to the lords. Now, if you show up and offer to give some new knowledge to a lord, (1) how would that fit the church teachings and (2) what is the piece of action to the church so it can protect its interests?

  3. What would be the effect to a Medieval society of having educated serfs? And, as others said, those serfs would have to be way above subsistence level to be able to be educated, so they might also have time to wonder about their society. is that a question nobility and church would like to deal with?

My previous paragraphs might sound a bit typecasting, but the point I am trying to make is the social side is more challenging than the technology.

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If you're looking to get a civilization up to speed so they can continue on at that level after you're gone then the minimum you're looking at is one generation. Basically the current generation is too far gone you need to start with the children.

Start schooling to taking one generation from primary to university levels, bring them up around your technology, make it normal to them. Tech them in your language so all your resources are available. You are basically bringing them into your culture rather than trying to bring their culture up to your level.

You can basically skip every technology your civilization doesn't use anymore. Just teach them how to make your technology using your technology. Basically if you have Star Trek style replicators that can be used to make new replicators, you don't need to build a old tech industrial base starting with industrial revolution level technology, just build a basic industrial base with your tech level that can be expanded. They will have the educational foundations and the information resources needed to understand more basic technology in the future if the need arises.

On the contrary, if you don't have the resources to do this you are pretty stuffed. If your ship doesn't have the necessary materials to setup this basic replicating industrial base and you are dependent on their technology for your survival their isn't much you can do. You do not have the knowledge and tools suitable for the intermediate technology to get them up to speed. Your technology is too far removed, it will just be a useful tool until it breaks. If you are dependent on the native civilization for anything other than manpower to add to your colony it's a pretty good sign that you will have to join them rather than them joining you. You will go to their level and struggle to get them to tech up slowly. You may have limited success, but it will be slow and there is no guarantee it will continue after you die.

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