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I've tried to find real world examples where something like Maasai Tribes, or groups of a similar life style, that live more or less alongside a high-tech civilisation, but I haven't been able to. This is the best discussion I've seen.

Obviously Maasai aren't actually considered stone age, but they're the nearest modern example I can think of that fit the idea of two vastly different technology levels that live within 1-2 days travel of a civilisation that have modern or, in my exact scenario post-modern/post-capitalism (near post-scarcity, ubiquitous space age level technology, high levels of automation etc.) society.

In my exact example, the stone age civilisation are actually starfish aliens whose 'down from the trees' moment was emerging from the ocean due to the seafloor around oceanic vents lifting up to shallows and eventually just coming to live on land permanently. I'm assuming that although they're radically different in physiology, some universalities like wanting food/shelter would mean they could still have enough common ground that they could interact in some way. And that the alien natives would be mostly self-sufficient.

Along with this, is that the high-tech civilisation exists almost solely from a landed/grounded generation ship that is almost entirely self sufficient. The planet they are on is very low on resources, so very little of the local flora/fauna is edible or palatable. They have self-contained agriculture on-board, that is almost 100% automated, and can manufacture other supplies they need currently. Because they're post-capitalism, I don't see them being very expansionist, but I can't say they wouldn't be evangelical.

For the Starfish aliens, probably don't understand the tech, but won't be for or against acquiring some. This is something I'd like to see real world parallels to. Bear in mind because these are physically starfish aliens, it's highly unlikely, for instance, that they'd be able to hold and definitely couldn't point a gun or other 'tool' in a comfortable way. This is definitely a deviation from the real world.

I'm not expecting concrete directions on how to world build this, but I've not come across any decent analogous examples to work from, so I am still looking for some generalisable points on how these two societies would influence and interact with each other, things like culture, trade, changing use of geography etc.

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    $\begingroup$ The Brazilian rainforest has, I think, some excellent examples of what you seek. Historically among humans on Earth, things go badly for the technologically-inferior species...however, that's often due to transmissible disease and political sophistication as much as technology. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Mar 5 at 15:32
  • $\begingroup$ @user535733 I'll go looking round for examples there. $\endgroup$
    – Pureferret
    Mar 5 at 15:37
  • $\begingroup$ The answer would vary depending on whether high tech is something the aliens want (e.g. cargo culting in Pacific island tribes) or don't want (e.g. Amish/Mennonites). $\endgroup$ Mar 5 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ @GrumpyYoungMan I've added some details $\endgroup$
    – Pureferret
    Mar 5 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ Something to consider is the stone age people wouldn't likely keep truely stone age forever. They will slowly learn from the high-tech civilisation, be it stealing gear, copying ideas or someone from the high-tech civilisation teaching them directly (with offical surport or otherwise). $\endgroup$ Mar 5 at 18:29
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Comparing Apples to Space Shuttles:

For two societies so utterly different in species, native environment, and tech levels, the unfortunate truth is that the relationship between them will be whatever the advanced civilization (AC) wants it to be. The starfish people (SP) can influence what the AC decides to do, but ultimately the power differential is equal to a two-year-old and an adult.

The idea that the AC doesn't want what the SP has is a little questionable. If they are starting a growing colony, the AC will need material things, like land to build on for increasing population, land to mine, water to irrigate expanding farms and so on. They are likely to view minor desires as needs, like a hill with a good view of the river. So the moment that hill is occupied with SP, the AC are put to a moral test. If the AC were once competitive, then competition is in their nature, and even post-capitalist cultures may compete in development like a useful game. If not for morals, there's nothing stopping the AC folks from doing anything they want.

So if the AC have a strong set of values about how to treat the SP, then the SP is likely to do okay. But the SP has nothing to contribute to the AC effort except the resources the SP may inadvertently be sitting on. So if the AC doesn't actively work to preserve the SP, then trivial interactions will result in inevitable destruction of the SP and all they stand for. For example, if the AC dumps environmental toxins because it's easier, they can wipe out the SP and not even know or care that it's happening. Those toxins might not harm the AC, so only the choice to actively protect the welfare of the SP will keep them alive.

This is not to say that over time, there might not be a change in the situation. Maybe the AC find the dances of the SP amusing and intervene to prevent their destruction. Or that AC citizens might not give technology to the SP for amusement or some selfish motive ("Here, blow up my rival's mine so I can win an advantage.") and eventually give the SP leverage. But ultimately the whole thing depends on the character and motives of the AC, and the best the SP can hope for is to be heard and given some respect.

  • Going on a few assumptions about the AC culture, let's imagine humans as the AC. I don't think we can use the Maasai as a great example, since the differences are much greater between the AC and SP than between terrestrial colonials and Maasai. There is nothing outside of academics/curiosity that the AC wants/needs from the SP, and the Maasai could threaten colonials realistically even with a significant tech difference/colonials could get labor & resources from the Maasai. Assuming human AC, they are likely to leave things alone they don't understand if they don't need anything from the SP. Given human culture, they are likely to have SOME version of the prime directive, discouraging destructive interaction with the SP, and tech exchange might be viewed as a potential future threat. So given ethics, I doubt they'd interact much at all despite the close proximity. A little research maybe. So if you want a thriving exchange between cultures, then give one side or another a strong motive to push the relationship. This could be the only aliens ever discovered by humanity, and your colonists are broadcasting their research to the entire human race. Your SP may be desperate to obtain some specific knowledge or resource from humans, and be willing to beg/borrow/steal anything to get it.
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  • $\begingroup$ @Pureferret, once you decide what the ethical level of your AC civilization is, I could probably give some input on how the AC would interact with the SP. Thx for the edit, BTW. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Mar 6 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ no worries I need to figure that out. I'm assuming for now they're more moral than modern day societies, but also feels like a mental pitfall. $\endgroup$
    – Pureferret
    Mar 6 at 1:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Pureferret I get that. Trying to accurately portray future morals is a lot harder than future tech. Look at our technically superior morals compared to the 1800's, 1900's, or even 1950's. Then look at modern internet weirdness and imagine arguing with someone from one of those time periods about who's better. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Mar 6 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ Re-reading this, I'd like to take a slight focus on your initial paragraph, namely: "the relationship between them will be whatever the advanced civilization (AC) wants it to be". There'll be a certain amount of unintentional 'leakage' in both directions, as well as resistance. I've added a part to my question to clarify about the, "influence and interact with each other, things like culture, trade, changing use of geography etc."... This goes back to my Maasai tribe example, who haven't been completely absorbed, and have retained a distinct culture. $\endgroup$
    – Pureferret
    Mar 8 at 12:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Pureferret The differences are much greater than between terrestrial colonials and Maasai. There is nothing outside of academics/curiosity that the AC wants/needs from the SP. Assuming human AC, they are likely to leave things alone they don't understand if they don't need anything from the SP. Given human culture, they are likely to have SOME version of the prime directive, discouraging destructive interaction with the SP, and tech exchange might be viewed as a potential future threat. So given ethics, I doubt they'd interact much at all despite the close proximity. A little research maybe. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Mar 8 at 13:30
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Reservation (no, really)

For some internal reason, the high-tech civilization decides not to swallow the stone-age civilization. (Which might be impossible anyway with your aliens, but the colonists don't know that.) The high-tech people have a vastly higher potential to build roads, clear forests, etc. but they don't do that for reasons which the stone-age people might find incomprehensible.

"So much power, and they don't use it! Why?"

Reservation (as in the historical precedent)

The high-tech people do move in, define a limited geography and scope for the "self-government" of the stone-age people, and provide some goods in the form of "welfare." The stone-age people might be free to leave the reservation and to join technical society, but what can they do there? Porters to compete with forklifts? Gardeners who don't understand how a hedge trimmer works?

Comparative Advantage

The stone-age people are at an disadvantage in just about any field of the economy, but there is a jobs where they are least disadvantaged. They flock to those jobs and earn "hard currency" for their families.

Imagine a stone-age person is slightly less effective than a high-tech person at picking apples from a tree. (Picking is picking, but it helps if the tree picker can drive a small tractor to the collection point instead of hauling stuff on his back.) The stone age person can pick 10 trees per units of time, the high-tech person can pick 12.

A stone-age person is vastly less effective at bringing fruit to the market than a high-tech person. (Here a pickup truck makes a big difference.) The stone-age person can carry 1 load of apples per unit of time, the high-tech person can transport 10 loads.

So the high-tech person, with high-tech tools, is better at both jobs. But if he does both, he picks and delivers 5.455 loads of fruit in per unit of time, and the stone-age person picks and delivers 0.909 loads. Together, 6.364 loads are delivered and picked.

Yet if they cooperate, they can pick and deliver 10 loads of apples per unit of time, with the stone-age person doing all the picking and the high-tech person doing all the delivering.

It might be unlikely that they cooperate and split the profits evenly, but even an "unfair" split of the profit gained by competitive advantage will leave the stone age person better of. At least materially. The culture and self-esteem of the stone age people might suffer from being shuffled to menial jobs.

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  • $\begingroup$ Those are some great points, the planet it very low on easily accessible resources (the high-tech society is however stranded, and aren't there for resources. You and GrumpyYoungMan have highlighted some additional points, that I can add into my original question. $\endgroup$
    – Pureferret
    Mar 5 at 17:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Pureferret, the comparative advantage concept should hold whatever the numbers. Imagine a stone-age merchant caravan traveling with a spacer who has a radio to contact other merchants, rather than each going it alone Each contributes relative strengths. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Mar 5 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ That's a great example, and one that I can see more likely in my situation $\endgroup$
    – Pureferret
    Mar 5 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, having thought this over and re-reading my original questions I remember my original query is about interactions on the settlement/group level, not just the individual level. Obviously, one feeds into the other, but you've only discussed (and done so very well) the person level. My Maasai analogy was an important one, as that group haven't been completely swallowed, and the tribes extent spills far over the Masaai Mara reserve. Does that re-iteration of my original question inform your question? $\endgroup$
    – Pureferret
    Mar 8 at 10:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Pureferret, societies are groups of individuals. If it makes economic sense for a high-tech farmer to hire low-tech workers, and if it makes economic sense for a low-tech worker to be hired by a high-tech farmer, then there needs to be a good reason if that does not happen. The first steps towards an integrated economy ... $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Mar 8 at 13:08

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