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I'm building a world in which two countries both have advanced technologies but both have very different basis for there technologies. Is this possible if so how?

For example Country X may be a cyberpunk country while country Y may be a biopunk country. Country X wouldn't have access to County Y technology and vice versa.

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    $\begingroup$ The US had computers and the USSR had rockets. As soon as it became apparent the other was useful they both caught up with each other in fairly short order. $\endgroup$ – John Meacham Mar 8 '16 at 5:39
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Yes it is possible, but isolation is a must!

People tend to trade and learn when they find they are lacking in something useful. When at least one of the two countries is xenophobic, a closed system would be formed where tech evolution takes different paths.

Take for example, the case of Japan and China in medieval times. These countries were known as curtains (bamboo curtains to be precise) and although their tech advancements were well known in the world, there was no rival research in competing countries. For example, the Chinese invented repeating crossbow (chu ko nu). Neither Japan, nor Korea or India came up with something like that. The Japanese had supreme swordmaking skills and their metalwork was (and is) regarded the best in the region. However, other countries did not try to come up with something on the same lines, but tried more to consolidate some of their other weapon technology.

However, once the barriers were lifted and world became a global village of sorts, technology from one part of the world quickly proliferated into other parts.

So yes, you can have two countries with equal in magnitude but different in direction technological progress if they are isolated and no active trade or learning is carried out between the two.

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Access to raw materials

As already mentioned isolation is critical for this.

Consider the motor car. Electricity had its limitations, the steam car was trying to find its feet, then Henry Ford got his hands on the production line and the internal combustion engine and everything went over to petrol. Consider a situation where petrol hadn't been available in, say Europe, for whatever reason. The petrol car would have taken off in some regions and the steam car in others, both technologies would have been able to mature in their own right.

The same situation is true of the katana and the European swords of the same era. The katana is light, sharp and brittle, it's very good for cutting through the bamboo armour that the Japanese had. Their shortage of good metal prevented the development of metal armour and hence they didn't need a sword that could break it. The heavy European swords were designed to break European armour and hence had very different characteristics. People argue endlessly about which is better, but what's ultimately true is that each was situational to the needs of the people who made them.

Different needs, different raw materials, lead to different, but equivalent, technologies.

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  • $\begingroup$ One little niggle; Lamellar Armour, the Samurai go-to, is made of metal plates, usually second grade steel from the sword industry, Katana are more than capable of taking that on, stabbing through full plate not so much but slashing through individual lamellae yes. $\endgroup$ – Ash Sep 20 '17 at 13:05
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There would need to be a reason for isolation. If they both have access to each other's technology, it would be ridiculous to go back to the drawing board and start over. It would be more logical to improve upon each other's technologies to create better technology (as is with our current world). I don't think this will work if they've always had contact with one another. They could have made contact after their technologies advanced separately and in different directions. That would be the most logical.

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I'd like to agree and disagree with Separatix and Youstay Igo, in order to prevent crossover national isolation is useful but isn't absolutely necessary, provided the technologies are mutually exclusive. If the biotech of Country Y is EM sensitive then it's not going to be usable in the electrically saturated Cyberpunk world of Country X or if we go the other way and have bioware that is attracted to powered circuitry and shorts out cypertech then Country X has a vested interest in excluding that technology from their country entirely. In such a way two countries that had developed disparate technologies would keep themselves to themselves technologically while still trading in other areas.

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