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Context

"God games" are organised, in which a hundred immortals participate. Each "God" are given an alternate dimension. These dimensions are all identical and contain an Earth where Humans didn't yet evolve. The gods monitor their Earth from a lunar base and never set a foot on its ground.

Every hundred years, gods can access an inter-dimensional mall and a jury evaluates their advancements.

The Mall

At the beginning of the games, each god receives a certain amount of god-credits they can spend in the Mall. Three main categories of goods are sold.

Humans and human knowledge

Most common products:

  • "Blank" humans (people without memories, language or knowledge).
  • Culture and religions, developed based on the buyer criteria
  • Knowledge and competences
  • Memories and personality traits

Colonist tools

The catalog contains everything from flint to locomotives, the seeds of every crops existing on our planet, medicine and encyclopedias.

Robots

The robots can be anything the gods may need to remotely control their planets: spy satellites, surveillance bots disguised as insects, giant demon-like robots, etc.

Legendary items

One-of-their-kind legendary items are put for auction during every shopping sessions.

The first auctioned items where :

  • A machine influencing evolution
  • Some rules of Magic that can be implanted in one Universe
  • A magical sperm bank
  • A duplication machine

The contests

The Earth of each god is judged under a few dozens criteria. Those criteria are things like : number of humans on the planet, originality of religious rituals, inhabited surface, technological advance, literacy, diversity of colonized biomes, etc.

The contestants receive an amount of god-credits proportional to their grades.

Protagonist

One god acquired the duplication machine during the first shopping sessions. As a result, he had very little budget to buy humans, culture & religion, or tools. The duplication machine has to be send on Earth and be used by humans. It can duplicate a volume of one cubic meter once every nine days.

On the long term, he wants to have good grades and bonus points for "Largest homogeneous culture/civilization" and "Quality of government administration".

For now, the best strategy I can think of is:

  • Stage 1 : Start of colonization

The few humans the god could buy are regrouped in one village. They use the duplication machine to duplicate tools and themselves. The duplicated villagers then go found other settlements.

  • Stage 2 : First Empire

The human population has grown, it covers now an area the size of Europe, and is ruled by one federal government. The technology, government organisation and infrastructures are close to those of the early Roman Empire.

I'm not sure what is best : duplicating coins, cultural artifacts like books and religious paintings or people (mostly priests, administrators and teachers) and send them to each corner of the empire to make sure every local government is the same.

  • Stage 3 : Industrial revolution

The communication and transportation networks are improving, also mass production starts to prevail... At this stage the machine seems almost useless to me. It can still be used to make duplicates of important government documents, but that's all I can think of.

My question :

What is the best 3 stages strategy?

If you think I was already in the right tracks, do you have a better version of this strategy?

The proposed strategies should make use of the duplication machine and allow the development of the biggest possible population sharing the same culture and governed by one efficient central government.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm not a native English speaker, feel free to correct my grammar. $\endgroup$ – Babika Babaka Sep 4 '15 at 12:57
  • $\begingroup$ Not really an answer but from my reading, buying the duplication machine was a big waste of credit. It takes about 9 days to duplicate someone (1 cubic meter). Buy more humans instead and they will "duplicate" by themselves. $\endgroup$ – Vincent Sep 4 '15 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Vincent In my story it was more of an impulse purchase, and the protagonist is trying to make the best of what he got. $\endgroup$ – Babika Babaka Sep 4 '15 at 14:07
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Actually...if you do it right, this machine's usefulness never really goes away until you become a post-scarcity civilization.

As the civilization gets started, what you actually want to duplicate are things that are currently hard for that civilization to get enough of. For any reasons.

At first, humans. Yes, you can replicate about 2 adult humans at a time....but any single adult human can take care of multiple children. So, you let the humans reproduce naturally, then replicate their children. Small children take up substantially less space than adults, allowing you to replicate a lot more of them. You'll need to mix in replicating Adults to make sure that your adult population stays large enough to keep up with all the kids you are churning out...but this would essentially let you brute force your way past the high childhood mortality rates that plagued early civilization. And, if you can pack tools into the space between the kids, all the better. Eventually (it will take a while) the natural child output of your civilization will surpass the machine, and it's time to move the machine on to other tasks.

From here on, the goal of the machine is to replicate whatever is currently the bleeding edge of technology. When someone figures out stone tools, make a bunch of them. When someone figures out smelting, replicate forges. When they start refining a better material, replicate that material to give them access to more of it at any given time. Anything that might take longer than 9 days to produce a cubic meter of goes in the machine.

When we first got started with it, making high-quality metal was hard (Bronze on up to steel) and could easily be messed up. Get it right once, toss it in the machine to hold you over until your production processes get cleaned up.

Now, it seems like this would get less useful as you advance into the industrial age, but that's simply not true. There are things out there that will always take longer than 9 days to create (or that we don't actually know how to reproduce).

The biggest hike this thing is going to take at becoming super-useful is once the civilization splits the atom. Uranium is exceptionally energy dense, and a small amount of it will produce massive amounts of power. Furthermore, enriching Uranium, even with modern processes, is extremely time consuming. A machine that could churn out a cubic meter of Enriched Uranium every 9 days is insanely more efficient than what we currently have. Especially once you consider the time, energy, and effort required to locate and mine Uranium in the first place.

Any time you get to the point of having something that is difficult to make...this machine would surge back to the limelight. Imagine if we had that machine now, in the days of trying to figure out how to efficiently create Carbon Nanotubes. Make a couple the hard way...then just keep tossing them back in the machine every 9 days, and your collection will grow exponentially until you have the full 1 cubic meter. A cubic meter of nanotubes would go a really, really long way. Same story if we ever figure out how to stabilize Antimatter.

Oh, and any time you get a 'brilliant' human (Einstein, Tesla, etc) you can make a few copies, so that you have multiple super-geniuses working on projects together. Multiplying Intellectual Capital cannot be understated. Can you imagine the leaps in Science and Understanding that would be had if any of the Great Minds of human history were replicated, and split off to all work on different things? (Or, heck, work together on the same thing.) Being Replicated by the machine would be the highest honor in this civilization. Forget handing someone a Nobel Prize for accomplishments in Science...duplicate them and have two geniuses for the price of one!

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for geniuses. And this God may just win, as long as he can communicate his needs to his population. $\endgroup$ – user3082 Sep 23 '15 at 0:22
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Your god did a big mistake buying this machine but he can still make some uses of it. I have no idea if this strategy will put him ahead of the others. To tell that, I would need a lot of information like : how many humans is worth the machine at start?

The duplication machine can be useful but it has limits too. It's best used to create things that take a lot of time/energy to produce, like books before the printing press, or the first clockworks, or the first computers. Or to duplicate valuable goods : silk, gold, gems. But even then, it has limits. If I could have more humans at start I would not need the extra book production the machine can grant me since my base production would be higher anyway. In other words, the larger the population will be, the smaller the impact of the machine will be. If I can duplicate 1 cubic meter of books every 9 days with 10 humans, that is huge but it's much less impressive with 50 million people. Also, advancements in technology are likely to reduce it's usefulness. As time passes, the capacity of the machine is outclassed by the production of your population and you need to find other uses for it.

If you decide to duplicate people, you run into the same problem. 1 cubic meter is like 2 people maybe if you pack them like in the Tokyo transit system? If so, you get about 80 people per yer, born by duplication. Even for a small population it's not a lot and it's a fixed number unless the machine could duplicate herself (but I guess that would not be possible otherwise the question is trivial). To make up for it, you would need to focus on quality instead of quantity. Pick only the geniuses and hopefully, it might make a different with a faster technological advancement.Sadly, having twice as many genius will not make science go twice faster because there is plenty of other factors affecting the technological advancement.

If there is something I learned from history is that one great person can make a huge difference between an ear of prosperity and an era of chaos. Some people (politics) are more competent, inspiring and will lead their country into a golden age. The point is, you need good leaders as well a scientists. Avoiding war should be a top priority. War kills people, drain resources that could be used for education/infrastructure/research. It's a huge step back and you don't want that. Having a good leader in the right moment could make a difference.

About the last stage: Government documents are printed on paper. It's easy to do tons of duplicate without the machine. As the population booms and production increase even further, the machine seems to lose usefulness. But not really. There are still plenty of things that could be good to duplicate. Some advanced pieces of technology like the International space station for example.

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I don't think the duplication machine is going to help with his strategy just yet.

However. Let's say he manages to save up his credits, and manages getting a hold of more legendary items. He IS the only god with the power to DUPLICATE any more unique item in existance. AND THAT can give him an edge.

So if I'd be him, I'd cross my fingers, do as best I can while saving as best I can, and hope for that game changer item that ONLY has the possibility of being a game changer, for me.

(For Example i dunno,: a legendary crown that makes ONE HUMAN the best ruler ever. You could duplicate that, set up multiple empires/rulers and they would all bring your society/earth peacefully by leaps and bounds into a golden age.)

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  • $\begingroup$ Hmm Vincent posted while I was posting and our answers are kinda similar. Oh well : / $\endgroup$ – Spacemonkey Sep 4 '15 at 19:24

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