Year 2730 AC¹. Generation Starship Epsilon arrives to the planet Gliese 180 c. Obivious signs of intelligent life are observed. To prevent interference, inhabitants of GS|ε stay on the ship for the time being. For the next few decades GS|ε has actively sent small groups consisting of scientists and exodiplomats. First contact is made soon after arrival, and a minimal common language is established. The results are quite surprising:

  • The civilization existed for at least millions of years. A continous biological evolution can be observed through this, albeit somewhat slower than on Earth. Despite this long time of existing, technological supremacy is not apparent.

  • The inhabitants lack any sign of even the basics of mathematic and predictive thinking, and have very limited abstract thinking. Everything they know must be based on experience, and they can't make predictions. They might know how a tool functions, but have no idea why it does, and beside blatantly obivious cases they won't have an idea what will happen if they try something new.

  • They are very curious and playful, and definetly not "dumb". Give them a nail and a hammer, they will do a lot of things with it, and eventually they will hit the nail with a hammer in the right setup and put it in a wood. They will fail to see why it works though. In the same playful trial-and-error way they will eventually figure you can join two pieces of wood with a nail. But they would never figure these out without actually doing them.

  • Every technology they have is the result of pure chance. They will only make tools they already did. If one of them by accident cuts a stone badly, and ends up making an axe instead of a gammer, then they will know how to make an axe. If a wheel on a rod falls in water in a lucky way and it starts to rotate, they invent waterwheel. If they experienced before that a rotating rod can be used in such and such a way, they will use it. But they won't ask themselves why it rotates. They won't try to deliberately improve it by wings.

  • They can recognize numbers but can't do (serious) math. They can e.g. distinguish groups of e.g. 3 and groups of 4, and they may know from experience that joining two groups of 3 will give a group of 6. But if noone observed what happens if you join two group of 10, they won't know it will be a group of 20, even if they've observed a group of 20 before. They only know numbers they can observe

  • They have supermemory, as in they remember everything they ever saw for a lifetime. If an individual sees the process of making a device, be however complicated, he will remember every step. If you give him the neccessary tools and the same starting materials, he will be able to reproduce the device (given he has good enough motoric abilities). Fail to supply one ingredient, and - unless he knows how to make it - he will fail and can't change the design on purpose.

  • They have an extensive spoken and writen language. Despite the lacking scientific mindset, their literatric capabilities are surprisingly vaste, and their records - including technical descriptions - are continous through their whole million-year history. Knowledge is rarely lost upon death.

  • They have a basic concept of time, but only see the future through their past. Though they won't have the abstract concept of past, present and future itself, they understand the difference between past memories, present happenings, and the things they aim to. They know what aim they have (crafting an axe), and they know what actions they will do to achieve them, if they have the knowledge. But if they deter from their memories they won't be able to predict what will happen, and won't think of it. In this sense they live more in the past, as opposed to the future-based humans. As they lack mathematical concepts, they can't measure time exactly or even vaguely. Their perception on elasped time goes at most as far as "just now", "a while ago", "ages before" and "before I born".

  • The lifespawn of an individual is undetermined. As they lack mathematical concepts, they don't measure and record birth and death time, and can't give even a vague description. All that known is that during the 2-3 decades GS|ε spent at the planet so far, any sign of aging was not observed. As far as we know they might even live for hundreds of human years.

My question: Given arbritrary long prior civilization lifespan, what would be the biggest technological level this civilization could reach? Assume that the mindset is the result of evolution and won't change seriously.

My reasoning behind this question is that I believe there would be a "saturation" of advancement, where the technology simply becomes too complicated to plausibly find it out by chance, even given an extremely long time. But where would this level be? Pre-industrial revolution level in 1800s are probably OK - we didn't have much science before anyway. Cars? maybe, but it would take long time. Spaceships? Unfausible at first, but hey, it's a million years...

Edit, to clarify what does"no science" mean:

They completely lack ability to recognize abstract patterns, and they don't know how to make deductions.

  • They know that a nail goes across two slice of wood, and joins them.
  • They won't know that a sharp thin object can be used to join two things together.
  • They won't know that the nail goes through the wood because it's sharp and the wood is soft.
  • They may realize by chance that three piece of wood can be joined by a single nail, but won't think of this themselves until someone accidentally does it.

Basically everything goes as a "monkey see, monkey do", only the first monkey here is always an accident or a mistake. They don't innovate on purpose. In this regard, they're more close to animals than humans - their intelligence is supermemory and superb copying ability, not abstract thinking and ability to predict.

And there's no other intelligent species involved; up until now they developed everything on their own. (Some other answers already considered aliens, this edit was made after they born).

Basically, the question I wish to explorle: how much of technology can be discovered accidentally and without involving scientific research or purposeful engineering?

¹ After Cataclysm

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ They have science, because they have the fundamental understanding that a sequence of actions is repeatable to gain a repeatable result. Perhaps what they lack is creative imagination? $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 15:01
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ I'd hate to argue semantics, but I'm not really certain that you can call them 'intelligent' at this point. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 16:23
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If you can’t generalize experiences, you aren’t going to survive. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel B
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 1:55
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ if they have writing they understand abstract thought writing a pretty big abstraction, this squggle of lines represent Bob or trees or whatever, is a massive abstraction. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 2:01
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ I think your problem is its not possible to have enough abstract thinking to read and write, and build things but not enough to improve things. they are the same processes. they definitely can't be curios and not inventive, curiosity meas trying new things. you might be better off asking how to get the behavior you want as a separate question first. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 12:44

10 Answers 10


You are positing a kind of sophont --- an intelligent species --- that much is a given. These sophonts, however, are very different from us in the nature of their intelligence. You don't say as much, but I think that's pretty clear from the evidence.

They play and are curious and form what you call a "civilisation", and thus must be social in nature. They can't put two and two together in a mathematically meaningful way, but they understand some concept of quantitative difference (they can see and understand that two small quantities make a bigger quantity), so they get things like bigger & smaller and more & less.

They understand Function. However, they lack a train of thought and can arrive at no conclusion given one or more novel or pre-existing data points. When presented with new things, they can not in any way determine function from form and can not even understand that form lends to or even has a function. Yet, when a function is serendipitously discovered, they immediately understand the function and can recreate that function based on previous discovery. They may not be able to fashion a hammer or nail from steel, but could fashion a hammer from rock and nails from wood. They might then be stymied at the wooden nail's recalcitrance at not being driven into the piece of wood the way the steel nail did.

They have a long lifespan, presumably no predators!, good memories and language which they somehow managed to chancily discover how to write down!


Human technological civilisation advances, at least in part, by predetermination and application of old methods, ideas, and machines to new problems. We looked at birds and wished to fly. Icarus glued wings onto his arms and, jumping, fell to his death. We eventually invented kites and motors and wheels and nuts and bolts and things. Eventually someone decided that we've got enough bits and pieces that we can actually take to the air. And so the dirigible was invented, and mankind flew. And later someone else decided that he didn't want to have all that explosive hydrogen right above his head, so he invented an aeroplane. We understand cause & effect; before & after; we can plan and set out to accomplish the plan.

These people have material culture, but have no concept of "technology". They can not predetermine and can not apply old or present knowledge to new problems. They can not plan and thus can not set themselves to the task of accomplishing the plan. They can not conceive of cause & effect or before & after. They look at birds and can make no connexion between a flying bird, its wings and their own ability to make things. There is no Icarus at any time in this people's past or future history. They can not make leaps of faith.

The people you have come up with are, essentially, a playful and curious and friendly kind of robot, almost. They can be set to a task, but they can not conceive the task in advance. They can understand that a tool functions and they can make the tool perform its function, but they can not conceive how or why it functions, nor can they devise the tool from earlier principles.

Given all these constraints & definitions I'd argue that in fact, this race can not actually "advance" by any meaningful conceptualisation of the term. They can only accumulate the random effects of their playfully ignorant journey through their world.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Given this, I think it's probable that contact with a human civilization would be disastrous for their population. While we most likely would not see them as prey/food, humans are really good at being exploitative. There is a decent chance humans would enslave this species and not see it as slavery. $\endgroup$ Commented May 12, 2020 at 13:18
  • $\begingroup$ Accepted this answer as per votes. $\endgroup$
    – Neinstein
    Commented May 19, 2020 at 6:36

As Advanced as Us ... Eventually.

There's a few assumptions I'm going to make first. I know you describe them as 'curious and playful' and not dumb, but given the rest of what you say, that's inaccurate. If they're curious, they're going to not not only be 'not dumb', but fairly smart. Especially given their eidetic memory. If they can remember everything, then let's say they once added two groups of threes together and it equaled six. Then they know, for a fact, that two threes equal six. They can do this with all of simple math (really, everything before geometry and calculus) and, if they're described as 'curious', that means, at minimum, every single one of these aliens should be able to perform more or less all of basic math. If we include the 'extensive language' aspect, the fact that information is rarely lost upon death, and the eidetic memory aspect, this means that there will always be someone in the tribe (or group or whatnot) who has the ability to perform all of these calculations. They have to have numbers, and given those numbers, they should have the ability to measure things, i.e. days, because you've given them perfect recall, so they should be able to count the number of days they've been alive.

You claim that they'll fail to be able to create something from memory if they lack a component. You also mention that they'll only be able to create something by accident, and they won't seek to improve something that they've already made. That seems ... kind of wrong? If they're naturally curious, then they'll keep experimenting and trying new things to do, even if they have no idea why things works, just that they do. The eldest of the race would have memories and experiences so vast that they'll develop hunches about things and be able to apply knowledge. For instance, let's say that they use wooden spears to hunt, but rock axes to cut down trees. Might not an elder try, just for variety, to place a rock tip on the wooden spear? And let's get back to the substitution part. Edison famously tried hundreds of different ways to make a lightbulb. If they're missing components, they can just try substitutes until one works.

Not to mention that there's an old science joke - "All science is either physics or stamp collecting". Science, for the most part, is observation and classification. These past hundreds years have been an exception to the rule. The vast majority of the history of science was done by people who had no idea what 'elements' were, or 'cells', or 'computers', yet were able to invent great things and make large strides. If all these aliens can do is poke things and see what happens, they can go far.

So the question is, how far? Well, that's not so easy to answer. You see, we humans use logic and build upon previous things we've built, using that prior knowledge to guide us to the next step. We hypothesize as to the reason why things work, not just that they do work, and use those hypotheses to advance our understanding of the world around us. These aliens do not do that. They'll observe and experiment, sure, but they won't analyze. And this makes them equivalent to the legendary 1,000 monkeys locked in a room trying to type Shakespeare. In other words, they're trying to brute force science, and that's a sentence that I didn't think I'd ever type.

Given that, you can actually expect them to achieve just about everything we've achieved and go ahead of us, but there's a catch. If you look at our curve for scientific progress, it's a curve going up - the more science we've made, the easier it is for us to make more science. Hence the rapid advance of technology. On the other hand, your aliens have it the opposite - science becomes harder and harder as it advances, and without knowing why and just using brute force, their advance will be slower as they progress. So their technological curve is going to be the inverse of ours, basically - while we make leaps and strides, they'll move at a snail's pace. But they'll never hit a wall and stall - sometimes they'll just be stuck there for a really long time.

Where does that leave them? Well, it all likelihood, they're probably somewhere around the cusp of some revolution that they're just progressing really slowly into. I'd guess either the Industrial Revolution, or possibly the Renaissance; though as an author, it's up to your discretion.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Unlimited memory does not equal high processing power. They may have a numerous examples of 3*2=6, but no real way to put it into an abstraction. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ I would assume at minimum that this alien race can abstract the concept of quantities which can be measured with numbers. They may not know how to apply those numbers, but they can at least know what a number is. Otherwise, they have problems. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 20:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Per OP, this civilization does not have math, something is stopping them from developing it. So yes, they should have problems. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 20:37
  • $\begingroup$ So, in other words, it's a civilization where everything is basically a black box. That's just great. I mean, my answer of 'brute force science' still applies, but now I'd like to add the caveat of 'assuming they manage to survive themselves.' $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 20:59
  • $\begingroup$ Could you deal with the problem left by "The civilization existed for at least millions of years…" with "…evolution…somewhat slower than on Earth" and give a working definition of that "technological supremacy" that's not apparent or, come to that, of science? Otherwise, why ask any more than "How advanced can a civilization get?" $\endgroup$ Commented May 5, 2020 at 22:49

Any answer is arbitrary, but I would say not past the 1700s. Human's (somewhat depending on what you call a human vs. proto-human) accidentally made their first stone tools 2.4 million years before they made the bow and arrow. They very possibly made those chipped flint tools the same way your species invents, just goofing off hitting things together, find something cool, teach it to others.

In the late 1600s we see the scientific method start to come into prominence, and things take off for us. But that method is fundamentally impossible for your species.

So we know from our own planet that without the ability to theorize and plan for the future, and be good at math, you can be stuck at one tech level longer than the existence of a species before it evolves to another one.

Which, btw, I see as the only real problem with you interestingly alien species there. A civilization that old is going to be populated by beings who have evolved into a new species probably at least a few times during its existence, unless something stops them. Of course, either side of that could be a cool story point.


They'd probably die out fairly quickly.

We're talking about a species that would struggle to invent sex if left without example from their own species. Their children would die at an astronomical rate because you can't necessarily repeat the same actions from one baby to the next. They may never learn how to light a fire or cook. The concept of making even the crudest of clothes may be beyond them.

There's a good chance that entire tribes will eat something poisonous and be wiped out, because there was too long a step between cause and effect, the same is true of not defecating near the water source.

Taking the step from living in caves to building huts with local materials will probably be too much for them as it requires too much creative thinking.

Humans are obligate tool users, we encounter a situation and the thought is of which tool would resolve said situation, then find that tool or make it with whatever comes to hand, improvising if necessary. This species, if also obligate tool users, will die out before they even make it off the savannah due to lack of the creative spark required to take those key steps.

Necessity is the mother of invention

But faced with necessity this species seems to be unable to invent, and hence will ultimately die out.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Both sex and taking care of their young seems to work well for animals, guided by instinct alone. And maybe the aliens' children are more self-reliant than humans'. I agree that a long time between cause and effect could be problematic, but I rather imagine that the earliest humans ran into similar issues (mass poisoning, disease). $\endgroup$
    – Llewellyn
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 19:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Llewellyn, animals are also playful and experimental, things that appear to have been taken from this species, especially the experimental aspect. Throw a couple of human teenagers together and they'll work things out in most cases, this species, strictly according to the description, won't. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 19:13

To the cusp of the industrial era

Then the long-term consequences of their actions catch up to them. Crime, pollution, overpopulation, disease, and famine restrict their potential. Eventually an environmental disaster, natural or artificial, will knock them back.

Bacteria / Unsupervised Machine Learning

To sum up: it's a species which lacks abstract thought and the ability to purposely invent new solutions, but try out things randomly. It can recognize and remember useful mistakes as improvements, and they can pass that knowledge along to others and future generations.

This is very similar to asexual natural selection with horizontal gene transfer practiced by bacteria. But instead of DNA its knowledge. And instead of random mutations it's "playing".

An analogy can also be made to unsupervised, automated machine learning. Lots of beings all doing the same thing but slightly differently and sharing the best techniques. But with a narrow focus on the immediate goal.

How fast they improve depends on how often they make and recognize beneficial improvements, the population size, how fast improvements spread, what environmental pressures they face, and what fraction of their collective memory survives disasters.

That last one is very important. With no ability to purposefully adapt to changes and predict outcomes they will continue to do the same things even as their environment changes around them. Rapid environmental change may kill off a large portion of the population in an area taking their knowledge with them.

Unregulated, short-term profiteers

Any good idea which seems to offer an immediate improvement will be adopted, even if this is ultimately destructive in the long run. They are unable to connect long term consequences with their actions, nor can they connect the consequences of individual actions with collective consequences.

Using the machine learning analogy, they can only recognize an improvement within their individual idea of what is "better". A better axe can chop down trees faster: that's good! More trees means more wood: also good! Everyone starts doing this because everyone agrees more wood is better. Where did all the trees go? It's a mystery.

They are like an unregulated market of nothing but short-term profiteers. They will take whatever action seems to offer the immediate best result. So long as their actions don't have widespread consequences, they can survive. But as their power and population grows, this lack of foresight and coordination will eventually cause them to destroy themselves.

This will eventually lead to famine, societal collapse, and a large portion of the population (and their collective knowledge) dying off.


One day, one of the members realizes it can get things faster and easier by taking them from their smaller neighbors. Individually, their smaller neighbors can't stop them. They are unable to conceive of the outcomes of collective action, and are highly unlikely to stumble on the idea of collective defense.

Such a species would be incapable of developing empathy or the concept of ownership. Crime and caste system would develop with the stronger simply taking from the weaker. The denser the population, the worse the problem. An increasing portion of the population would become parasitic.


Disease will limit their population density.

They're not the only ones learning on this planet. Microbial predators are as well. As population density increases, diseases will follow. Lacking abstract thought, they will not be able to associate their earlier behavior with illness and death weeks later. Lacking scientific or medical curiosity, they will be unable to understand the large scale patterns of disease. The simplest associations of disease with their own excrement cannot be made.


Their advancements will allow them to support increased population... to a point. Lacking foreknowledge, they will be unable to avoid overtaxing their resources.

Let's say a farmer discovers they a new crop or technique which offers a higher yield, so everyone starts using it. But it damages the soil, and after a while yields plummet: famine. Or perhaps its less drought resistant, next drought: famine. Lacking abstract thought, it's unlikely they'll be able to connect their new behavior with these long-term consequences. They will continue their behavior and continue to exhaust the soil.


Lacking the ability to predict the consequences of new actions, eventually they will destroy their environment. A simple example, the first to invent fire will contentedly watch as everything burns down around them; they've never seen fire before, they don't understand how it spreads, how to stop it, or even that fire consuming everything is bad. As their civilization advances, the destructive potential of their inventions inadvertent will become worse and worse.

They will adapt short-term improvements which poison their soil, air, and water beyond the ability of their environment to absorb it. They will not be able to connect their actions to the resulting reduced harvests, illnesses, and death. The larger their population and more sophisticated their technology, the worse the effect.

  • $\begingroup$ if they don;t have deductive reasoning they can't have laws to break. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 2:04
  • $\begingroup$ @John You may be reading "crime" too narrowly. Theft does not require laws to be theft. Even without the concept of ownership and personal property, some of the population living off the labor of others this will drag the society down. $\endgroup$
    – Schwern
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 6:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Sure but it won't be a crime, some of the population living off the labor of others describes several major forms of government. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 12:08
  • $\begingroup$ @John Leaving aside cynical views on taxation, a government proposes to do something beneficial; these aliens will just take and be taken from. I used "parasitic" for a reason. Even a rancher feeds and cares for their cattle knowing a symbiotic relationship will bring more benefit in the long run. Raiders eventually figure out its easier to offer protection in exchange for goods than to keep raiding. These aliens lack knowledge aforethought, planning, and collective action; I don't see how these aliens can rise to even "rancher" or "protection racket". $\endgroup$
    – Schwern
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 18:41

It could be as advanced as the civilizations from which they stole technology are.

I mean, such a species could watch someone pilot a spacecraft, and then know how to pilot a spacecraft. Then they pull a spacecraft apart and they know exactly how it's built.

Or even better, maybe they just get taught another species' language, and they could read and memorize everything that other species knows.

Maybe it's already happened and those other species from which they stole are just no longer around.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "Then they pull a spacecraft apart and they know exactly how it's built." Seems like retro engineering to me, which is a form of engineering, which is a form of science. It's probably a definition problem, but I would argue that understanding science, or at least reproduce it is in itself science. $\endgroup$
    – Kepotx
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ I would guess the danger of cross-contamination would be high, but you would need the aliens to actually watch you make something before they would understand it. This would work if there had been another civilization on the planet. It's also the basis of the Foreigner series by CJ Cherryh $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 15:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure this answers the OP's question, as it was a question about the civilization themselves and seeing as there's never been a alien crash in human history for us to reverse engineer, this isn't a valid assumption. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 15:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Kepotx - I don't think that's "Science" per se. I'd argue that to dó science, you need to have a certain mindset (and humans didn't really have that mindset until medieval Europe came along with its religious mindset). If you drop a ball into a shoe and your cat fetches it out; and then because you're busy decides to drop the ball in the shoe so he can fetch it out on his own doesn't mean he's doing science. This species could just be all "yay! we put all the bits here & we put all the bits together again! Let's make more bits so we can put all those bits together too!" They do but don't get. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ I feel like I agree with the comments. The point is, if they don't see how it's made they won't be able to reproduce. They can't recognize that oh this is a circuit like [etc.]. They can know how to drive the spacecraft by observing, but they will never know how to build one until someone builds it in front of them, from naterials they already know. And I don't want to involve alien reverse engineering anyway - humanity is their first contact (although I didn't specify this, true). $\endgroup$
    – Neinstein
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 16:22

Only limited by time.

You know how if you sit a finite amount of monkeys each in front of a typewriter they will eventually (i.e. in infinite time) write all the works of Shakespeare? Or, more formally, if you produce random entries for a finite amount of time you will obtain all possible finite combinations.

Your aliens don't even need memory, or a purpose, or a mind. Just by performing random actions they will eventually (infinite time) reach all possible scientific knowledge and invent every possible invention (assuming these sets are finite and composed of finite elements).

Actual infinite time is impossible. At the very least we should consider the expected life of the universe. But that's their only constraint, time.

Now, how long will they take to reach a certain technological milestone (and the converse: how advanced they will be at a certain point in time) is a much harder question. I'm not sure we can answer it, if we consider the possibility that they might not follow our current civilization's path to science and technology. Perhaps they become very advanced in astronomy (like the Mayans), or they make great concrete early in their history (like the Romans), or arts (like the Greek), ships (Vikings), gunpowder (Chinese), etc. Perhaps they come up with gunpowder before bronzeworking!

We have taken a path to our current civilization that seems like the most logical one (with the tools that we have, i.e. abstract thinking and socialization), but with random inventions you will probably get a very different path, and even a very different civilization altogether, such that nuclear-powered wooden planes might exist because they can build safe nuclear fission reactors but never made a plane out of metal.

If some results depend on previous ones, and all have equal chance, then the further you go into the science tree (i.e. the more prerequisites a given advancement has), the more time that scenario will take, and the less likely it is that that particular advancement is made while other aspects are severely lacking (for example, wooden FTL spaceships because they can't even work steel). Think of it like playing a strategy game (Age of Empires, Civilization, etc) and researching technologies completely at random. It is mathematically possible to reach very advanced stages on one branch without developing others much, but it's less likely to happen (remember, we're researching at random).

  • $\begingroup$ actually they have several bigger constraints, it is far easier to accidentally assemble a bomb than a generator, they will discover million of death traps before the stumble on one useful thing. they will wipe themselves out long before they get anywhere. the other constraint is resources, they will exhaust resources long before hey discover things by pure chance. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented May 7, 2020 at 2:38

I strongly believe they're more creative than us and capable of pursuing what they accomplished through brute forcing to build things that seems impossible because their mind-set doesn't set a boundary for what could be achieved.

Maths make you overthink and it leads to more and more problems. You could assume this planet is full of peoples who are similar to Steve Jobs.

In my opinion, this civilization has * highest abstraction and it leads to more innovations.

A world full of people with dyscalculia is possible. Let the bruteforcing be their way to advance. It's democratic.

[1] I conducted a research on an encounter with outer-civilization and it appear they are kind of heavily religious and only has advanced flying technologies. Very similar to the [2] Spellbinder series I watched years ago. It's possible that this civilization could master a standalone area and be like monkeys for other areas.

[1] https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/a34dme/this-guy-paints-the-sex-he-allegedly-has-with-aliens

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spellbinder_(TV_series)

*I speak with programmatic mind. You can build programmes without learning assembly. While this notion has some flaws, I have no way to express it further in a reasonable sense.

  • $\begingroup$ The question seems to have been philosophically difficult for many to grapple with, however, I believe your solution works. $\endgroup$ Commented May 6, 2020 at 21:31

I suspect they will be way more advanced than us.

If they can make some basic conclusions - war is bad, things are better if people are nice to each other, we should help other people and not be selfish - and act on them, they are likely to have reached a far more enlightened condition than any human civilisation thus far.

Science or technology per se doesn't make you civilised. A barbarian with a spaceship and a disintegrator ray is still a barbarian, and a civilised person in a mud hut is still civilised.


Early Stone Age at Best

Without experimentation and imagination, history tells us that getting past the early stone age is nearly impossible. Let's say your aliens make a fire, and surround the fire with a retainer wall of copper ore. The ore will melt, and your aliens will see the metal. The human reaction to this is "Cool, I got something new and I should see what I can do with it.", but your aliens will just leave it there because they lack the imagination to FIND a use for it. Without any inclination to experiment on its discovery, you alien will just look at his melted rocks and decide not to use those rocks any more because they melt. Not only will your society not learn to make copper tools, but because of how good they are at remembering and passing on knowledge, they will collectively remember to not even try doing that again for the next hundred thousand years because they will not want thier fire pits to melt.

In fact, they probably won't make fires at all because the first thing they will do with a fire is burn themselves, decide fire is bad, and make good and sure to avoid it at all costs like most animals do.

In short, you are basically describing chimpanzees. We know from experimenting with chimpanzees that they can learn to communicate and share technology from one generation to the next, and use all sorts of tools like you describe, yet millions of years in the wild and the most advanced tool they've come up with on their own is sticking a twig into a termite mound to get the bugs out... and honestly, there is no proof that they did not see a human do that first.


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