I have an infinite world that spans out every direction, and expanding is going on a lot and unless a country is sealed off by another, resources are infinite.

My only question is a yes or no question: will this impede or advance technological advancement? (I'm okay with extra stuff)

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    $\begingroup$ The 'infinite resources' part sounds more important than the 'infinite land' part. Are the resources infinite because the land is? As in, could you still run out of water because it's all stuck in an endless ocean a million miles away? $\endgroup$ May 8, 2015 at 17:23
  • $\begingroup$ related: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/2671/… $\endgroup$
    – wposeyjr
    May 8, 2015 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ It is an infinite world populated by an infinite number of people or just a couple communities all in the same spot ? $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    May 8, 2015 at 18:14
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    $\begingroup$ Is this Minecraft? $\endgroup$
    – o0'.
    May 9, 2015 at 10:08
  • $\begingroup$ Well inspired @Lohoris $\endgroup$
    – JKK1111
    May 9, 2015 at 17:14

2 Answers 2


A planar world does not have the right topology for this to make a vast difference. The reason is that eventually transport costs become prohibitively high from the unexplored edge to the center; and as you travel outwards, you only get linearly more land but you have quadratically much land already settled.

So, most people are going to be in the settled zone in the middle, and they'll have all the competition for resources that anyone ever has.

The frontiers might be an especially exciting place (as they were during expansion of comparatively technologically advanced humans around the Earth), but the constraints will, overall, be not all that different from the Earth except for people living near the unexplored boundary.

Boundaries are disruptive things. A lot of research depends on having really well-established institutions. But in the U.S., which is about as young as you get on the Earth, it generally takes a minimum of 50-100 years to get robust institutions that generate technology (e.g. UC Berkeley, Stanford, Caltech, etc, in California became global powerhouses, but it took ~100 years after significant settlement in CA).

Also, there's quite a bit of technological advancement that happens precisely because of resource limitations.

So it's probably a bit of a net positive, but because the premise of effectively unlimited resources is wrong (due to travel times), it's likely to be a modest effect.

  • $\begingroup$ So research would suffer in most parts except transport? $\endgroup$
    – JKK1111
    May 9, 2015 at 9:44
  • $\begingroup$ This assumes that people will settle. But this world is a big incentive towards a nomadic lifestyle. $\endgroup$
    – o0'.
    May 9, 2015 at 10:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Lohoris - Doesn't matter; whether you're transporting goods or yourself, when you are on a plane eventually almost everyone is in the "settled" area (i.e. places where people already live, even if they're just passing through) and cannot even reach the frontier. $\endgroup$
    – Rex Kerr
    May 9, 2015 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ @JKK1111 - I think some research would be enhanced and some would be ignored; it really varies case-by-case. For instance, there's no real reason to expect semiconductors to be affected either way. Transport would be assisted. Resource extraction technologies like fracking would probably not be explored. Weaponry for full-scale wars would be researched more at the center, while weaponry suitable for smaller skirmishes would probably be developed closer to the edges. $\endgroup$
    – Rex Kerr
    May 9, 2015 at 21:00

The primary reasons for most (or at least a lot) of conflict between peoples are resources/land. With that no longer being an issue, there's probably significantly less time being spent warring. With that, and the addition of unlimited resources, your only limitation on research (since resources are free) are time and people to do the researching. I'd be inclined to say it would advance technological research much more quickly than a nation constantly worrying about conflict with other groups and limited resources.

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    $\begingroup$ Conflict can be a leading cause of technological advancement. "They have a cannon? Let's build a better one!" $\endgroup$ May 8, 2015 at 17:20
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    $\begingroup$ Good point, the only thing that drives humanity to make better stuff is improving living conditions or obtaining larger plats. Once you take those away, every one is fine with life as it is, and apart from "glory" factors no-one would ever need to create anything new. $\endgroup$ May 8, 2015 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ @DJMethaneMan It's true, it can be, but I still think a lack of conflict would lead to a higher boost to research in other areas than you lose in the area of weaponry/medical issues. I have no facts to base that assumption off of, though. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    May 8, 2015 at 17:31
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    $\begingroup$ @VinceScalia I'm inclined to disagree. I think humans naturally want to learn, innovation and creativity were and are a large part of how humans overcome their environment and situation. I think even without the "need" to advance for survival, civilization would still advance, if even gradually. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    May 8, 2015 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Michael You're right. For example, the renaissance period. Not conflict free, not much of human history is, but there was a great deal of non-military innovation for the sake of innovation. $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    May 8, 2015 at 18:04

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