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A long time ago, far far away, in the distant future of this galaxy, (don't think about that too hard) aliens created links between star systems enabling interstellar travel to occur within a day. Now these aliens happened to make one of these links terminate somewhere in the vicinity of earth's orbit allowing the aliens to visit the solar system. Since the aliens possessed the technology to create (or destroy) interstellar links while humans were incapable of even understanding anything but the practical implication of the links (interstellar travel), the aliens were incomprehensibly more advanced than humans were. Fortunately, the aliens found humanity mostly harmless and refrained from disposing of the pathetic inferior species – considering them fascinating rather than tasty. Moreover, these benevolent aliens found it their duty to nurture and protect the primitive species from other threats in the galaxy. The aliens allowed humans to access the aliens' network of interstellar links, travel to their worlds, live and trade among them, and even purchase their spacecraft and technology (which was immensely superior to anything humans could manage to develop).

However, this created a problem for the setting of this long past, distant, fututure galaxy. If humans were given access to alien technology and spaceships which were so much better than humanity's best spaceships, why would humans continue to bother building their own spaceships based on their primitive understanding of physics? Or why would they keep investing in any sort of research and advancement of human tech whatsoever? Why wouldn't humanity just abandon everything they had developed so far, and just begin building new things based on the far more advanced alien technology?

There has to be a reasonable explanation for why humanity would keep developing technology that is decidedly different (and, until they can finally catch up to the aliens in terms of advancement, quite inferior) to the alien tech; otherwise after a while there would be little justification for why humanity's weapons, spaceships, and buildings would still look human and not just merge into alien looking things. Assume the aliens are amicably disposed toward humanity (they are so advanced, they have little fear of humans, despite humanity's not-exactly-spotless track record of responsibility when it comes to discovering something new and exciting that can immediately be crammed into a weapon of some sort). Since humans will have access to the alien technology indefinitely; what reasons would humans have for persisting to develop their obsolete spacecraft designs and equipment?

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    $\begingroup$ Remember when Huawei introduced 5g... $\endgroup$ – user6760 Dec 16 '19 at 4:00
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    $\begingroup$ Why does most of the world buy Japanese cars? Or FTM American & European commercial airliners? $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Dec 16 '19 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ I would recommend looking into David Brin's Uplift Universe. Humans often triumph over non-humans precisely because they aren't using the Galactic Library as a source for all their knowledge. Instead, humans arrived at a different solution to the problem. $\endgroup$ – Engineer Toast Dec 16 '19 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ This sounds a lot like the Heechee series by Frederik Pohl. The first book is about humans finding and trying to use alien spacecraft and later books include human built (or at least designed) craft. I think there's a bit of explanation why things work like they do for the alien craft, but it's been years since I've read the whole series. It's a great series and I think it might answer some questions for you. $\endgroup$ – computercarguy Dec 16 '19 at 21:56
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    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf Japanese auto manufacturing techniques are understandable to other humans. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Dec 17 '19 at 0:54

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This answer is built into history.

The first reason is it's expensive. Replacing all your technology with new upgraded technology is expensive as hell. Think about all those overhead wires still hanging around when they could be buried safely underground. Think of those poor people who are still using copper for internet when they could be using fibre with 200/200. Think of us current present people still stuck on 4G when we could be using 5G. I mean.... why haven't we all switched to electric cars, solar power and batteries and charging stations every 5 minutes along the road? Technological innovations and discoveries take time to filter down and replace core infrastructure or widely used infrastructure. It is absurdly expensive, time consuming and not guaranteed to work, which is why so often, things are implemented in phases or steps to help minimize the impact. This means it's expensive... and the leap cannot be so great that the new technology is incompatible with old technology.

The second reason is independence. You basically don't want all your technology to rely on a third party. For example, the US doesn't want its communication infrastructure to be made by China. There are several reasons for this. There might be a flaw. There might be spyware or viruses or remote access controls in the hardware. The other party can starve you of technology because you can't produce your own. Basically you want to have some control over the hardware and software you use, so that the other party can't screw you over.

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    $\begingroup$ Great answer. You can add a third reason of curiosity - the existence of unexplained technological wonders are likely to drive humans to try and figure out how they work. And to better customize them to the use of humans. $\endgroup$ – G0BLiN Dec 16 '19 at 7:46
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    $\begingroup$ While this is a great answer for the short term, I don't think it would hold for centuries, perhaps not even decades. With example technology that represents such a massive leap, and therefore competitive advantage, people will be studying it, using as inspiration, … their mere existence in human's environment will shape dreams and fictions, in turn heavily influencing research. The will do exactly what you describe, study it and implement it in steps. So it will take decades or centuries instead of a few years. But it will happen. $\endgroup$ – spectras Dec 16 '19 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ I would like to add -- pride. Humans are proud of the things they create. Many countries pride themselves on manufacturing their own equipment, their culture, and their own abilities, and this can be the one thing holding a technologically inferior civilization back from simply adopting more advanced technology and practices. I'm sure this would still hold true in your world. $\endgroup$ – Elijah Seed Arita Dec 17 '19 at 1:57
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There is a solution that requires only minor adjustment - your benevolent aliens don't actually believe in sharing the technology. What they believe in is sharing the knowledge needed to build such technology, and perhaps throw in hint about a principle on which their tech works on. Instead of just giving the technology to Earthlings on a silver plate, they sent their teachers to help advance theoretical physics. As for the practical application of this knowledge, the aliens believe that intelligent species like humans should be able to do the practical part themselves. And, honestly, they find crude, odd ways the humans build their own tech from the knowledge they provided very, very amusing.

In the earthlings' words, you don't give a hungry man a fish, you sit him down, explain to him how to fish, and then eat your popcorn as you observe his attempts to make a fishing rod, and all the small mistakes he makes along the way. Eventually, when he overcomes all the problems and becomes proficient in fishing, while you did help him, you'd haven't taken away from him the satisfaction of his achievement, and you can now truly go fishing as equals.

Or in other words, they don't wish to become controlling parents who force the future onto humans, rather, they wish to be the cool, older more experienced friend/sibling who's always willing to provide the humanity an advice, but in the end lets the Earthlings figure the details themselves.

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    $\begingroup$ Plus - having all the necessary maths already worked out, the humans are free to innovate the engineering in different directions. They might even stumble along a different branch of technology that the aliens had never considered, because they were past the "logical" point of discovery before they came up with several of the necessary concepts, or their paradigm was locked into improving one specific type of technology - like if we had kept improving valves and never invented transistors... $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Dec 16 '19 at 12:01
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Poor Humans

Just because the aliens are open with their technology doesn't mean that humans understand it. In the Ringworld universe, Puppeteers build the most powerful ship hulls, but nobody else can. They sell them to other races, but are the only ones who know how to build them. If we gave a microchip to someone from 200 years ago, they would not be able to build another one in 15 years, as another answer implies.

Even though humans may buy the tech from aliens doesn't mean they can afford as much as they want. After all, to buy something, you have to trade something that the other party wants. What kinds of things can humans do that is even useful to such an advanced race? Explaining what humans can offer in trade is the bigger problem, IMO. But whatever it is, it may simply be the case that humans can only afford to buy 1000 starships from the aliens, but they really want one MILLION starships (raise pinky to mouth). If it would take less time to catch up to alien tech levels than it would to earn enough money to buy their natural demand, then it is logical that humans would invest all their resources trying to catch up their own tech than just buying the alien tech.

Expendable Humans

If your aliens are like the Puppeteers, it could be that they crave safety and what they will pay money for is outsourced risk. So humans may be contracted to carry out risky/dangerous missions, like investigating a star that's about to go supernova, or collecting samples from a novel/corrosive/energetic gas cloud/proto-planet, or just collecting live dangerous creature samples from some planet. Thus, what makes humans useful is that they are disposable, as far as the aliens are concerned. And the aliens are happy to trade their incomprehensible magical artifacts for these risky adventures that humans would be doing anyway, just because we're like that.

Incomprehensibility

Today we take for granted that knowledge is easy to acquire. John Horgan even wrote a book called The End of Science, arguing that we've discovered all the big principles (which must be false if your alien tech exists). What Horgan misses is that scientific principles are just the tiniest first step to building useful products. Technology is actually all about engineering; i.e., the ugly details in putting together something that works. And if you think that's easy, consider that humans have already built numerous technologies that humans themselves don't understand! That is, there is no human that can tell you every aspect of the Google search engine works, or could reproduce it from scratch. The same is true of FB, an iPhone, and even StackExchange itself! Human brains are simply too small to hold all of the necessary information. So while, in principle, a team of engineers could eventually rebuild all of those products with equivalent functionality, the details of the implementation and actual behaviors would be subtly to very obviously different.

But that's just the primitive tech we have today. The real tech is nanotechnology. Humans decided that they would be able to understand biology if they only sequenced the genome, so we completed the Human Genome Project. Then we took a look at the results and said: "Huh. There aren't nearly enough genes here to describe a human body. What gives?" Well, there's lots of problems with the genetic theory, including the fact that our microbiome contributes functionality by creating biomolecules which are used by the rest of the body! So technically, we have outsourced some of our genes to bacteria. Then there's the fact that we call most of the nuclear material "junk DNA" (or introns). But there's a problem with the "junk DNA" hypothesis. You see, DNA is tightly coiled and then squished up into a ball so it fits inside the nucleus (most of the time). But the cell also has to read it, so it also uncoils to do its job. And it turns out that the expression of genes depends on where they are in that 3D ball! Which means that the "junk DNA" may have a functional purpose in shaping the 3D form DNA strands. When it comes to the nanotechnology of life, what we don't know far exceeds what we do.

Take graphene. We've been using elemental carbon since we mastered fire. We used it when we made charcoal, graphite for pencils, diamond drill bits, etc. We even figured out how many protons and neutrons it has, and how all life on earth depends on it. And yet, every day we learn something new about carbon, like how you can form it into tubes, or sheets 1 atom thick. How you can make it into super-capacitors, or even superconductors by twisting two sheets of it by only a few degrees. Knowing about quantum electrodynamics does not directly give this knowledge, nor does quantum chemistry. You have to discover it by playing around with lots of materials, and hoping you stumble upon some happy accidents.

In fact, there is a ridiculous amount of room for an advanced species to create technology based on our currently known laws of physics that would still take us hundreds of years to understand and reproduce ourselves. And much of that comes down to tools. Humans had access to the raw materials to create guns at least 2000 years ago. But whenever someone posts a question here about time travelers and guns, it always comes up that the ancients lacked the machining capabilities to create modern firearms. And so we may even know the principles by which alien tech operates, but lack the ability to reproduce it until we go through the long, hard slog of building up our tooling capabilities to the kinds of things the aliens do.

It would be like showing a schematic of an iCore i9 processor to an electrical engineer from the 60s. Once you explained how the gates work, how lithography works, and all the other things you need to build a modern microprocessor, that poor engineer will just throw up his arms and say: "But it will take us decades to build all that!" Yes, it will. But if you just give that one chip, even embedded inside a laptop, they will only have one laptop. If they want millions of laptops, they need to build up their indigenous tool stack.

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Curiosity, Greed and Paranoia is a powerful combination.

One of the reasons humans are as intelligent as we are is that we are innately curious. While there is a large proportion of the population that just buys their smart phones and uses them with no thought as to how they work, there is that small percentage that still looks at the thing and thinks 'how do they build that?' We still have people building smart phones, making them lighter, more powerful, flatter, etc. just to see if they can. Of course having the execs in their company aligned to their own interests by seeing major coin in the innovations of the first group is serendipitous, but ultimately some human out there will eventually want to build their own version of the ships they can buy and other humans will see the value in it and invest their resources accordingly.

So it will be with the space ships and wormholes. Some humans will look at them, know that they are possible, and want above all else to know how it's done. Others will look at them, see dollar signs and support those doing the research. Others will look at them, see a threat in not having control over the tech themselves, and support those supporting those doing the research.

When you get right down to it, most of the inventions we have in our lives today are the result of happy accidents that have led researchers to see a new 'art of the possible' and investigate it. Sure, there were cases where there were specific problems that were researched and solutions developed for them, but in this case the technology is beyond us and that is a fact that humans won't be able to abide. We'll simply want to know; we'll burn to know and the idea of mastering this kind of tech will be too much of a draw for young scientists and engineers for us not to put everything we have into it.

But (I hear you ask) - that is why humans might try to replicate the new tech; why would they develop the old tech? Well, the answer is that the old tech provides a stable and known base on which to test the new ideas gleaned from the alien tech. Ultimately the way humans tend to work is to add to existing platforms until they're ready for a complete paradigm change. This is in part of the R&D process; build new ideas into existing ones incrementally so that you isolate the variables of what can go wrong. This allows you to test and refine your ideas one at a time, rather than scratching your head, staring at a pile of molten slag that was the most expensive ship you've ever created based entirely on new and untested tech, wondering which one of the thousands of integrated systems went wrong and whether or not it was a design flaw or a build flaw.

Ideally, you'd pick some minor aspect of the alien tech, research it, develop your own concepts and designs for it and integrate it into your own ships. You might start with things like environmental systems, artificial gravity, energy sources, and then go into propulsion and wormhole generation once you've cut your teeth on the less sophisticated tech. Your own ships are great for this in that they can be retrofitted with the new tech you're developing, and they somewhat mask what you're doing as well. A benevolent but distracted superior race might not even notice what you're really doing until you're well advanced down the path of your own scientific developments.

All in all, there are some compelling reasons to keep developing your own tech, even if you do so being heavily influenced by the alien tech you have access to. This kind of reverse engineering happens all the time in human culture already and the need for control would be even greater in this scenario than it would be today.

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Comfort

The aliens had bums[1] radically different[2] to humans.

Humanity gets along with modified technology in general, but would really prefer some proper ergonomic spaceships and general exploration stuff, so they try to take the bits they do understand and put them in human-built vehicles designed for humans.

[1] And needs in general

[2] Yes I'm lifting this answer from the Gateway Saga

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  • $\begingroup$ This also comes from the movie "Independence Day". And the series by Frederik Pohl was actually called the Heechee saga, with Gateway just being the first book. Great series, too. $\endgroup$ – computercarguy Dec 16 '19 at 22:01
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Scarcity.

While the aliens do provide the equipment, the manuals and the scientific books to understand how the equipment works from first principles, they don't provide a lot of equipment. The humans get the gear the aliens want to give, when they want to give. So it is scarce.

There is money to be made in use crude human equipment, and in human research based on the books given by the alien.

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Specialisation

The aliens built a lot of interesting designs, but the first time someone needs a ship capable of (for example) transporting a pod of whales to Europa in one go, they're going to need a new hull-frame!

Simply, the alien ship designs can't do every possible thing humanity might want to use them for. So Humanity will have to continue innovating and designing new ships, new space-frames and pushing the boundaries of starship engineering.

The alien ships will simply be a starting point for future designs.

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Why would humans continue to bother building their own spaceships based on their primitive understanding of physics?

Do you really want your access to space to be dependent on the generosity of a species you've just met? Of course not. Humans are going to want stuff that we can produce (and maintain!) ourselves.

Of course, we're going to work like mad to understand the alien physics and/or obtain our own manufacturing tech somehow, but having done so, we will probably want to produce our own designs. Maybe they are better suited for us, or maybe we're just obstinate that way. (It happens IRL.) Even if we can't produce certain critical components (e.g. drives, power systems), we'll probably want to build as much as we can out of our own resources.

Strongly recommended reading: Ringo's Troy Rising series.

Or why would they keep investing in any sort of research and advancement of human tech whatsoever? Why wouldn't humanity just abandon everything they had developed so far, and just begin building new things based on the far more advanced alien technology?

Similar reasons as above. Also, who knows what brilliant insight the aliens missed by not chasing some "dead end" branch of science that interests us humans? Weber's Honorverse features a planet that an inertial compensator by stubbornly following a design path that "everyone knows" doesn't work because no one would explain the "right" way to them. Turns out that not only does it work, it works better than the one everyone else is using.

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Unless humans are physiologically incapable of understanding alien technology (i.e. too small brains), the problem of alien incomprehensibleness is solved in about 15 years, as the new generation of physicists and engineers are properly tutored on alien science/math/engineering. From there on, humans would have their own designs and shipyards, better suited to human physiology.

It is similar to what happened on far eastern countries in the past few decades: as western countries moved their manufacturing plants over there, over a relatively short time span they began to copy the technology, and then develop their own designs of car, chips and other high technology products. And they don't even had the benefit of the western actively "sharing" the technology (they were just exploiting cheap labor).

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Why would we continue to build our own ships?

Science

We continue to build the craziest projects in the world; with billions of dollars invested into the projects just to produce results that increases our understanding a little (or a lot if you ask a scientist).

And these projects are chump change compared to what we as a species would be willing to spend if we had actual space travel. The best example, of our desire to have this is of course the budgets of few specific organizations (US):

  • NASA 21.5 billion - Space exploration
  • NSF 7.5 billion - Basic Science fund supporting 25% of all research in the US
  • Darpa 3.427 billion - Military weapons research

Notice the differences in budget for each organization verses what their stated mission is. Clearly there is a bias to unlocking space for humanity.

Now imagine, if we had alien space tech in our hands. Do you think we would settle on having someone else's technology? The short answer is no. We would take it apart, figure out how it works, and build our own.

Now since your writing a story, I would suggest making some conflict. Every good story has conflict, interests, goals, or otherwise.

Stealing tech happens all the time, and human's outsmarting aliens (even peaceful) would be a fun story.

Your question as to why would we use obsolete space tech?

You work with what you have available. I could imagine a spaceship chop-shop building custom human-alien tech space craft. Some parts of it old human tech, and the best parts of it alien tech. Heck just the fabrication of the hulls of spacecraft would take many man hours. Why build something new, when you can use something old at no extra cost? Also taking apart, "acquired" alien ships for market resell. I assume even alien tech breaks after a while. Having a full or side market for this would be a fun setting for a protagonist to get mixed up in.

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Invasion

The aliens also found another primitive race they liked and gave them the same access the humans had. Unfortunately, the friendly aliens were duped by this other race. They not only had exceptionally good war tech, they had really effective ways to hide it from the good aliens. As such, the war aliens were able to use the network to invade multiple other locations before the good aliens realized what was going on. Earth got wind of it before they reached there, and as such, they destroyed the good aliens' link before they suffered the same fate.

The good aliens promptly cut the war aliens off, but the damage was done. The war aliens conquered dozens of worlds before the cutoff and the good aliens don't want to go to war to fix or stop the war aliens. Earth now stands alone and fear keeps them from using the link technology, lest they let the war aliens in. The good aliens, realizing they screwed up, have quietly been feeding the humans bits of knowledge to develop their own technology (i.e. they told humans how some of their tech worked). Since humans now understand more about how things work, they set about building their own ships and making their own discoveries.

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Humans don't have the equipment for field repairs of advanced alien technology.

Imagine your ship is weeks away from a port, in hard vacuum, and not at a distance from the nearest star where it naturally maintains a liveable temperature. If the air or heat systems break right now, you will either fix them on your own or die. If the water recycler doesn't work, gosh, recycling it à la Bear Grylls isn't nice. If the engine won't start, you'll either die or have to hire a tug to come and decelerate you into port.

If your critical systems run entirely on human technology, you know you can fix them with a screwdriver, a wrench, some duct tape and a laptop. If they're alien-human hybrid technology that writes its error logs in English and has RGB displays for control panels, you at least have a chance. If it's all alien technology with Centauri writing on V-UVa-UVb displays and you can't get at the wiring without a nano-disassembler, you're going to struggle.

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Aliens are integral to the tech.

They are not exactly ghosts... Hopefully not ghosts. But there is an intelligence of alien origin in each of these pieces of tech and it makes it go from the inside. These intelligences are related somehow to the aliens that provide the technology. The aliens acknowledge this if you get them drinking, but remain frustratingly vague or sometimes get religious (if very drunk). The mechanical parts of the alien machines can be duplicated precisely but the duplicates don't function like the original, if they function.

The ghost in the machine is not itself a machine. It can be fickle. It might be fond of its owner or it might get royally pissed off. It has likes and dislikes. Under some circumstances the ghost in one machine might be moved to another; actually it might decide to move to another, or elsewhere entirely. Running these machines is more like dealing with a domesticated animal, if you have a domesticated animal more intelligent than you are.

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Your question got me thinking of an answer that I have not seen yet, which we already do to each other as humans all the time.

DRM (Digital rights management) or copy protection mechamisms

The alien technology is mired in a complicated web of interplanetary intellectual property law that means the alien manufactured machines regularly have to phone home via some sort of hyperspace signal that humans cannot reverse engineer.

The aliens have done this in order to have full control over the species they encounter as they intend for the inferior species to become dependant on their technologies and infrastructure. This is done as a security mechanism to assure their continued dominance in the galaxy.

Humans, being human, do not like being reliant on the aliens and try to reverse engineer the technology with some (perhaps limited) success until they finally have their own flavor on the technologies themselves.

Perhaps the aliens may resent this meteoric rise?

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However, this created a problem for the setting of this long past, distant, future galaxy. If humans were given access to alien technology and spaceships which were so much better than humanity's best spaceships...

Those dumb humans only think they've got something cutting edge. It might be so much better than humanity's best, but to the "benevolent" aliens it is just so much old and out-of-date crap that none of their other trading partners would want such junk.

Everything is fine for a while, until the humans piss off the neighbours, only to find their hand-me-down tech isn't quite so cutting edge as they thought, and they get their asses whupped. And to cap it all, when the humans ask for some upgrades, they are turned down. Now there's a reason to for the humans to get back to R&D, using some of the alien science, researching their own way, and developing their own tech - tech that they own and understand.

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The aliens are awkwardly large, or small, or proportioned. Doesn't have to be by a lot; just enough to make alien tech as it's built uncomfortable, and for humans to be a small enough economic power that catering to them isn't useful.

Also possible: Alien tech gives off radiation or leeches chemical compounds that are, on direct contact/very close proximity, less than beneficial to the health/comfort/longevity of humans. Doesn't mean it gives you lymphoma in three months and all bets are off; just means you need to build some shielding/adapt design to different materials/use different powersources with different cooling requirements/etc that necessitates a human flavor even on tech with imported concepts.

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Aesthetics.

There has to be a reasonable explanation for why humanity would keep developing technology that is decidedly different (and, until they can finally catch up to the aliens in terms of advancement, quite inferior) to the alien tech; otherwise after a while there would be little justification for why humanity's weapons, spaceships, and buildings would still look human and not just merge into alien looking things.

Even if the human technology were functionally identical to the alien tech, there would still be a perfectly good reason why it might look different--namely, humans think that human-looking tech looks nice! (Or cool, or comforting, or whatever.) Perhaps the alien tech looks strange, or awkward, or even kind of gross. Or maybe we just want to put out own personal brand on the things we build--after all, even within our own species, different cultures put their own unique spin on widely-used technologies all the time!

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The alien technology has a fundamental, sometimes lethal, flaw.

Sometimes these alien portals just disappear ships forever, or they blow up on arrival, or suffer extreme topological rearrangements through higher dimensions. Sometimes is rare, but significantly more frequent than the risk of using human craft that operate on other principles. Those other principles make these human ships much more limited in other ways. Range? Size? Speed?

The aliens, (oddly? ), don't care about the flaw, or they stopped caring after finding it impossible to reduce it further. For whatever reason, they value self-preservation less than humans do. Perhaps they started as an eusocial species, and although they then emerged as true individuals, something we might call fatalism is very deeply built in to their psyches.

We have made similar trade-offs between technologies at various points in our history. Early air travel was risky. Trains and ocean liners were by and large safer, and rail was cheaper, but ... slow! In this case, we could and did fix the safety problems with airliners.

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This will be a gradual process

From the beginning, we'll be building peripherals to make this alien tech easier to use. It may begin by just using human-built seats and control gadgetry for ergonomics and ease of training (making it similar to a battleship bridge or a fighter cockpit). Our scientists will be taking these apart when they can, though, and studying them to see if we can modify them or make them better. Eventually, we'll be reverse engineering the connecting systems, especially as those break and we don't want to go to the aliens and pay their (possibly) high prices to get new ones.

We may never successfully (make native built versions economical) reverse engineer the core power systems or propulsion systems, but they may eventually be hidden behind so much value-added native human tech that few people know the difference.

It's possible that the human ingenuity and can-do attitude even morphs into a reputation among other alien species for customizing foreign tech to their comfort levels.

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TL;DR: The supply part of Supply & Demand is unreliable.

Long answer:

I suggest you take a look at Larry Niven's Known Space novels*. Seriously, these deal with just the kind of problem you are facing.

Within these novels, there are 4 main races; the humans, the Kzinti, the Gw'oth, the Outsiders, and the Pierson's Puppeteers. The humans and Kzinti are both relatively young, unadvanced races. The Puppeteers and the Outsiders, on the other hand, are incredibly old and wise. They generally keep to themselves (the Puppeteers are philosophical cowards, and the Outsiders have Old Geezer Syndrome), other than to trade their advanced technology (Outsiders) and indestructible hulls (Puppeteers). Although the alien technology becomes very prominent on Earth, it nevertheless does not take over the market. In the case of the Outsiders, they ask outrageous prices for their tech*. As for the Puppeteers, they abruptly leave after discovering a dire threat to themselves (the galactic core has gone supernova, so they *only* have 20,000 years to leave before the radiation sterilizes everything). Due to these factors the supply of alien technology is massively variable, so the humans make their own.

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