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I see a lot of truly alien aliens in the world of worldbuilding, but one thing that almost every single alien species has similar is their technological development. Pretty cut and dry, the technological development for an alien species seems to be ancient age, stone age, bronze age, dark age, medieval era, renaissance, new age and (the yet achieved here) Space age.

As far as I can tell, no matter how I design the species, there is no way to their development differ from earths. So I must ask, is the development for a species set in stone?

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  • $\begingroup$ To a certain degree, You have to do some of the lower ones before you can reach the higher ones. I couldn't tell you what ones could be skipped or are more Human Specific, but like a Step Ladder, the lower ones sometimes are required to work up to the higher ones. You cant pour liquid metal into a cast unless you have a cast that can withstand the heat, and a source of heat hot enough to melt the metal. $\endgroup$ – Ryan Jul 29 '16 at 18:08
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    $\begingroup$ Related: What alternate course of technological advacement could realistically have occured? $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jul 29 '16 at 19:33
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    $\begingroup$ Bronze age/dark age/medieval age/Renaissance didn't even happen everywhere on Earth. $\endgroup$ – ckersch Jul 29 '16 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, Bronze age/Iron age/[dark age]/medieval/Renaissance would be more reasonable. As far as we know, Iron should come after bronze, and "dark age" should be optional, though not uncommon (and really it can occur anywhere in the sequences) $\endgroup$ – RBarryYoung Jul 30 '16 at 0:32
  • $\begingroup$ @RBarry: IIRC, the Iron Age wasn't a big thing because iron was a particularly great metal -- it was because iron was so much more plentiful than the components of bronze. A different planet with different resource availability could develop much differently. Alternatively, one might imagine aliens that simply did not discover bronze alloys early on, or had means to produce the hotter furnaces needed for ironworking by the time they started developing metallurgy. $\endgroup$ – user2781 Jul 30 '16 at 3:30
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Yes and no.

Some stages of progress are inevitable. For instance:

  1. You don't use tools at all.
  2. You make tools from things which are just lying about, like sticks and stones for weapons or lumps of clay for a cup.
  3. You figure out that flint is a better stone for tools than quartzite is, so you starting digging flint out of the ground. Hurrah, you've invented mining.
  4. You figure out that clay heated in a fire is harder and lasts longer than the sun-dried stuff. Hurrah, you've invented pottery.

On the other hand, the environment of your alien species is going to be a big factor. Dolphins and octopuses, for instance, are never going to invent pottery, because they live underwater and thus can't do the simplest version (firing pots in a bonfire) to kickstart that whole line of technology.

So anywhere the chemistry doesn't or can't work the way ours does will not be able to duplicate some of our achievements (fire won't burn underwater). Or they may discover something earlier in their development, For instance fires burn hotter and longer in high oxygen atmospheres, so observing what heat does to things may be a higher priority for them, and they invent smelting or kilns quicker than we did.

The environment includes the other creatures you share the planet with. If you have no equivalent of cattle and horses, you don't invent the plough, the stagecoach or horse-drawn artillery. Animal power was a major factor in many of Earth's civilisations and technological developments.

Next, there is the anatomy and physiology of your aliens themselves. For instance, if they have wings and can fly (and obey the laws of physics), they will be severely restricted in how much they can carry and still take off. A bird-alien can't cover itself in chainmail or platemail unless it wants to be stuck on the ground. Bird-aliens may therefore neglect aspects of metallurgy in favour of trying to create tough but light textiles to act as armour.

If they are carnivores, they are not going to invent horticulture or arable farming early like we did. They'll probably invent pastoralism (herding animals) pretty quickly, but it may be a long time before they decide to start growing fodder for their domestic animals.

And if they are not growing plants in their equivalent of the Stone Age, then they are not going to kickstart a whole bunch of other industries - anything which relies on plant fibres or plant oils, for instance. So they might invent knitting, wool weaving and felt making because they keep sheep, but they won't have canvas for sailcloth & tents or linen for clothes, because they never grew flax for edible seeds and oil and thus never figured out its other properties.

Finally, their psychology. If they are a truly territorial species, by which mean territoriality in the biological sense of the word they don't travel and they don't invent trade. They stick within their territory boundaries and react with violence when strangers turn up. Territories are small, globally speaking. A territory might be the size of farm or small national park, but it is never going to be the size of a country. The aliens can't invent any technological development which relies on resources outside their territory. So they can't have a bronze age unless they've got both copper and tin on their particular patch of land.

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  • $\begingroup$ Also in the environment category is 'access to materials': On a planet with no metals, tech is going to take a decidedly ceramic kind of turn, and some developments (radio?) may be flat out impossible. $\endgroup$ – pjz Mar 11 '18 at 4:20
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No.

Technological development stems from two aspects of human behavior: a desire for power and the use of tools to achieve tasks. Most technological developments can be attributed to these factors.

Power comes in many forms. There is power over our environment. Building shelter and a fire keeps us warm despite the cold winter. There is power over animals, harnessing them to gain more power elsewhere, for military or economic purposes. There is power over others, governing them or defeating them in battle.

Tool development is even simpler. This ranges from a sharpened stick to the high tech machinery we have today. We make tools to gain power: power over others, over animals, over the environment, and so on. The more we discovered, the more our lust for power grew. Better tools made their way quickly between neighbors, as people were unwilling to see others have an advantage. And groups were always looking to improve their creations, so as to have power over others without that tool. This competitive flare led to the advancement of our species as a whole (more or less).

So what's all this talk about? Well, in order to have a radically different society without this progress, we must remove or suppress these traits from our alien creature. Our creature would then have the following features:

  • Not competitive. This of course means that the creature is not competing for food, habitats, mates, etc. Which leads me to:
  • Everything they need is provided. Natural resources, food, water, shelter. The creature does not need to try, if you will. Most of human tech has been to fulfill some shortage in society: easier food, take land from others, fighting off creatures and diseases, you name it.
  • Entirely peaceful. This is easily achieved with the above two, but worth stating nonetheless. The creature should not have to, or desire to fight other creatures or themselves.
  • A spark of intelligence. So far we've described a society of amiable pacifists. That may well "succeed" in surviving, but it makes a boring story. So direct their intelligence towards once field you want them to specialize in. Since everything is provided for, they can devote all of their time and effort to perfecting that art.

This may progress them through human technology somewhat (say, stone tools if they are into material artwork), Their end goal is not the same as our own though, so they would not progress in the same manner as we have.

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  • $\begingroup$ See also How Altruism Might Have Evolved on Schneier on Security. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jul 29 '16 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ Jane Jacobs, in the last chapter of Cities and the Wealth of Nations, quotes (I can't say from where, not having the book handy) a surprisingly long list of technologies that were first used for entertainment or decoration. $\endgroup$ – Anton Sherwood Jul 30 '16 at 7:37
  • $\begingroup$ Non-competitive evolving organism are forbidden by the 2nd law of thermodynamics and therefore by natural selection. Biospheres are entropy engines, consuming work from inflowing energy and "radiating" entropy, speeding the overall heat death of the universe. A biosphere will soak up all available energy, natural selection will favor the greatest rate of reproduction, there will always be more organisms born than can survive to reproduce. The scenario you envision is scientifically impossible. It would have to be engineered someway. $\endgroup$ – TechZen Jul 30 '16 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling - Haven't read the book but I can already tell it's crap. What is happening is a lot of people are trying very hard to label reciprocal cooperation as "altruism". The former is allowed in evolutionary theory, but altruism is not. "A horse could not evolve a saddle just for humans to ride" as Darwin observed. Anything approaching natural altruism occurs only in flashes usually the side effect of another process eg a nursing wolf accepts the man-child or cat because nursing suppresses her adrenals. Woogli was technically a parasite. $\endgroup$ – TechZen Jul 30 '16 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ @TechZen I have no idea what you are referring to. I linked to a blog post that appeared relevant to this answer. If you have an issue with what Schneier has written, in that blog post or in one of his books, then take that up with Schneier, not me. Last I looked, the comment field on his blog was open, especially for constructive contributions. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jul 30 '16 at 18:09
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Yes, but not the ones in particular you said.

The order is... Stone Age > Bronze Age > Iron Age > Industrial Revolution > Digital Age > Solar Age > etc.

Dark Ages and Renaissances come from reaching a pinnacle, falling, and then recovering.

Stone, Bronze, Iron have to do primary material of war which is also the dominant factor in the age which are pretty much set in stone due to the ease with which to find and use these material.

Industrial and Digital age comes from revolutions in conceptions of how to build things and then communicate. The Industrial age comes first because the digital age require mass production of products and the industrial revolution could come before or after the iron age, but the industrial revolution before the iron age wouldn't have a big impact since bronze and copper doesn't lend itself to mass production like iron does due to it's softness and such.

The "Space age" or is obviously going to be divided up between the period when there is practicaly a global government, Solar Age is when we start colonizing the solar system, and from there multi-star system and eventually the galaxy and possibly other galaxies.

These are all logical progressions so they must come in this order. You can have multiple dark ages and renaisances and have regression into previous ages, but once a concept is wide spread it is hard to get rid of it so dark ages refer more to cultural and further technological collapse which wouldn't effect them in anything other than the ability to get infrastructure to continue on, but once you have anything like that you'd just pick up where you left off pretty much.

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  • $\begingroup$ I wouldn't say it's a given that a "digital age" must precede spaceflight. I'm pretty sure we've had a question on whether electronic computers are actually required for spaceflight, but can't find it (if anyone else is willing to take a stab at it, please). $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jul 29 '16 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling Spaceflight requires a lot of calculations. Computers aren't strictly required for spaceflight, but without computers it takes a lot more preparation for a flight. The amount of expertise required would severely limit how many space flights could take place. So spaceflight itself could take place before a digital age, but don't expect a true space age to be possible before computers. $\endgroup$ – Rob Watts Jul 29 '16 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ @RobWatts The Apollo program used analog devices to calculate flight plans, which were analog of the differential equations. Digital computers do the same calculations by solving the differential equations. There are tricks of solving problems without crunching the equations on a computer. $\endgroup$ – a4android Jul 30 '16 at 7:43
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling I had a stab. It's one of the answers to this question worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/9980/… $\endgroup$ – a4android Jul 30 '16 at 8:45
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling It is possible that someone comes up with manufacturing in the stone age, but the probable ubiquity of it is why we wouldn't ever say that they entered the industrial revolution during the stone age. It's the same with "space age" and "digital age"... It's possible to send ships into space, but before the digital age it extremely limits the ubiquity of it which is why "the space age" died so quickly when we stopped focusing on space, because we just couldn't make it ubiquitous to the world at the time. $\endgroup$ – Durakken Jul 30 '16 at 11:27
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The Great Library of Alexandria featured several designs for mechanical devices like steam engines, and it is widely speculated that the Industrial Revolution could have begun in Ptolemaic Egypt, rather than 1700's Britain. However, the politics of the day dictated that knowledge was restricted to the elites, and the common folk didn't see much in it for them to preserve the scripts of the Great Library when it burned down.

Human labor was also very cheap back then, so there wasn't as much of a perceived need to automate (whereas some historians point to Europe's historically low population as an impetus for industrial development as a means to compete).

So, in theory, if there was an analogue to the Great Library, the scientists of the day could embark on research into information theory and discrete mathematics, essentially leapfrogging industrialization into an information age, all at once.

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  • $\begingroup$ Mathematics and theory could have been accomplished to an extent, but I don't see how the rapid telecommunication typical of the Information Age could have been achieved without the manufacturing techniques developed in the Industrial Age. $\endgroup$ – Kys Jul 29 '16 at 18:52
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not saying they wouldn't industrialize, just that the information revolution could come before the industrial revolution, and could even be the catalyst to start industrialization. Once scientists understand the spadework enough to build a basic telegraph, the benefits of manufacturing such devices for use over long distances would become obvious, and that could spur all kinds of industrial development. $\endgroup$ – rm -rf slash Jul 29 '16 at 18:59
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    $\begingroup$ Inventions are only built and perfected if there is a profitable application. In Ptolemaic Egypt, there was no application for a steam engine. In 1750s England there was, de-watering coal mines. So instead of being a curiosity, a series of inventors built and perfected the devices. Also there have to be investors. In Ptolemaic Egypt there was....Ptolemy. In 1750s England there were all sorts of rich Dukes, merchants, and manufactory owners who could and did invest in new technology. Say a Maxwellistotle developed his laws of EM in Egypt, who would have funded Marconi to build a radio? $\endgroup$ – kingledion Jul 29 '16 at 21:18
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No

It is not set in stone, but there are good reasons why we see what we see.

First of all - we do not have tech tree for our technology ourselves.

I mean tech tree as some model which someone can work with. We do not have science where tech trees are objects of interest.

  • Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.

As we do not have systematized knowledge about our tech tree as whole - from stone to chips, we can't produce other valid tech trees, similar to ours, and we can't produce other tech trees, for other alien civilization.

Producing tech for alien civilizations needs also evolution models - to determine groups, kinds, chemistry, shapes, etc of those aliens.

And to determine capabilities of different alien forms, we also need good astrophysical models - to determine and classify possibly environments for those aliens, in details enough to create valid models of alien life.

We have none of above for ourselves, and as result, we(as humanity) can't generate valid models for aliens anything.

As an example, a question - is it possibly for some aliens in ocean world, being ocean creatures to have industrial like technology, not biotechnology. Or which options are best for them, which environment they should have (how deep ocean have to be, which geology they have, the planet composition, etc). That everything will be highly speculative.

In this situation, referring to history is a good move, because we know it worked for us once, and how it did, there is some variation in that process in our history. But it has to be accepted as an open question, like a symbol, x-variable, rather than how it could be really done for them.

As we do not have models for tech we can't change them, test something, determine trough experimentation rules of development, boundaries of possibilities, classify those possibilities - etc, same stuff we do for bulk data. At the moment we even do not have that raw data available to operate for small groups, and we do not have results of researches of such groups about that data, which some writer can rely on or use.

As rmrfslash pointed in his answer, with The Great Library of Alexandria situation, we are in the same situation, maybe it is better some areas, thanks for good peoples and OSF and such, but, in most cases we have the same situation or even a worse one in most cases in recent time (you might not have access to library, and never had in any way, but if you did what is described in that library, you will be punished by law - short description of patenting system)

Another big reason - it's very hard to make a valid system, not one man work. As an example Copenhagen Suborbitals - they trying to make rockets. Do we have the tech for what they wish to achieve, yes we do, so ...?
They have youtube channel Copenhagen Suborbitals, where they show their testing's, talks about what they do in researching of manufacturing processes - show some bits of that getting knowledge for them self, not for humanity because humanity knows that already, ... khm, I'll better stop here.

So valid models are not expected for a long time.

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I like the more generalized terms...dark age isn't a required step and some could argue the bronze working age contained many knowledge elements of the renaissance (makes the renaissance a rediscovery age in our development). However if you change these steps slightly (a planet without iron wouldn't have a distinct iron age now would they?), then yes...I think all developing 'people' require some of the same phases. Focus less on tech level and think how the majority of people earn their living

Hunter Gatherer (pre-dawn)

Horticultural (backyard farming + hunter/gatherer. Often gets merged with hunter/gatherer)

Agricultural (centralized farming, decentralized living)

Industrial (centralized living, manufacturing of physical things)

Information (knowledge becomes more valuable than the things manufactured)

Energy (energy and matter manipulation)

Speculation.

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The other answers are all good. Everything tht needed saying has been said, so I'll keep mine short and down to examples.

The tabletop RPG GURPS has tech levels ranging from 0 (stone age) to 15 (technological singularity). But a society doesn't just have one tech level, it has separate levels for areas such as transportation, medicine, computing, warfare etc. A society can have space age medicine but pre-world wars era transportation, for example.

And then there is Fallout. A videogame series with such an example of a development path different than ours. In the world of Fallout there are self aware AI and nuclear powered vehicles, but computer screens are still the green phosphorescent variety and despite the existence of plasma guns, the best weaponry available looks like what real Earth had in the 1970's. Do check it out.

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No, of course not. You could have super-intelligent aliens who either don't bother to develop at all beyond what they immediately need because they have no 'ambition' but can have whatever tools are needed for any task at hand - so an aggressive species could stumble across a completely peaceful world and next thing you know, the clever but peaceful aliens have produced a whole heap of war machines. I'm particularly thinking of the moties in Niven's Mote in God's Eye novel, but they had a different character flaw - one of constant reproduction that led to overpopulation, war and social destruction. But they were really good at making whatever tools were needed for a task/

So, given alternative motives or impulses for these aliens, you can skip straight to the good stuff without having to slowly invent better and better tooling.

That said, you could let them get better tools by default - we built stone, then copper, then iron etc because we invented these things. If your aliens had, say, super-strong plants that could be trained to grow in certain shapes, you could go straight to the 'iron age' (or the plant equivalent with iron-strength leaves when they grow to maturity in shaped moulds built around young plants), or plants trained to grow into the structures we eventually learned to build out of iron.

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Short Answer: The primary literary role of "aliens" in the vast majority of science fiction is to represent different aspects of humanity.As such, neither the authors nor readers have much incentive to create truly novel technologies, save as a plot gimmick.

But realistically, while natural "laws" would constrain the evolution of both organisms and their technology so that the differences would not be random and inexplainable, variations in environment, contingency and the history of the alien world would produce different organisms and different technologies. If nothing else, aliens would behaviorally place different emphasis on the same technologies than humans would. Given how much diversity existed in human technologies back before globalization really took off 400 years ago, clearly aliens would be even more diverse.

Neither physical or behavioral (whether genetic or learned) biological evolution follows any predestined path and since technology is just a behavior, it to is subject to natural selection, and likewise has no predestined path.

TL;DR - don't you have something better to do on a Saturday morning?

There is no such thing as predetermined evolution...period.

"Natural Selection" is really the flow of energy through the biosphere where the formation of complex molecules and structures produces more entropy than if the energy just hit and radiated out. The form of organisms is created by the outward pressure of this flow of energy. Variations that consume more energy and dump out more entropy get selected. But while more entropy producing forms are selected for, the particular forms possible both from historical constraints and the exact flow of energy into and entropy out of the environment, produces a vast number of possible forms. Not to mention "black swan" events like asteroid impacts.

Technology in evolutionary terms is a behavior of organisms and behaviors are just as subject to natural selection regardless of whether those behaviors arise from genes or are learned. Natural selection operates on the phenotypes, the structures and behaviors that interact with environment, and not the genotype i.e. the genes, epigenetic factors and neural and other learning structures.

So, technology evolves via natural selection and as such shows all the effects of variation, diversity, and contingency all compressed entropic flow, just like biological structures.

You can see this quite clearly in human technology. We think of primitive hunter-gathers of using chipped flint tools and all to commonly we assume all flint tools are pretty much the same. But archeologist recognize tens of thousands of variations all subtly as distinct as different species and subspecies.

Sadly, our best preserved knowledge of past technology is overwhelmingly in the area of weapons. Even restricted to one weapon class such as "sword" we see vast diversity of swords, each form requiring different individual techniques as well as different tactics, strategies, social and political organization for the groups that use them.

The famous English longbow archers, were unique in Europe and largely unique in the world. Most of the rest of the world who weren't horse riding nomads used crossbows. The degree of training required to master the bow required the wielder either be part of culture (like nomads) wherein all men trained to the bow, or it required a dedicated subculture, which showed up at least briefly in a Hindu cast.

The English had longbows not owing to any special technical knowledge nor a simple fluke. Instead, the anomalous existence of a large population of free, land owing yeoman in Wales and West England created conditions in which a subculture could specialize from childhood in the weapon. After bowmen kicked the French's backside for over a century, the French king, IIRC, Charles II, used distributions of lands, tax policies and feudal cohesion to produce a French yeomanry who specialized in the bow. While never as good as the English longbow men, they were good enough to blunt the English advantage.

The longbow is just one of several examples of technologies that require a particular history, culture, political system and even tax structure, to become a powerful weapon. If you throw in an alien environment and sentients, its unlikely you find longbowmen a Yor-gath.

Technology is restricted by physical laws, and that will funnel their form to follow their function regardless of what planet the technology evolved on. But that also applies to the organisms themselves. There is likely to be recognizable technology on alien worlds but like flint tools in humans, the closer one looks the more diversity one sees.

Alien physiology could make a huge differences as well. The arteries of the vertebrates on earth have no valves in them. A serious puncture or severing of an artery anywhere in the body will cause death. All sharp or penetrating human weapons from flint points to .50cal BFG rounds all seek to punch relative narrow but very deep wounds anywhere in the body possible with the major goal of severing an artery.

But if alien major lifeforms had valves in their arteries, cutting the artery would not necessarily be a fatal or even disabling wound. If a human pumped such an alien warrior with arrows or even bullets, it would just piss him off.

Such aliens would likely not evolve stabbing or puncturing weapons but instead slashing, smashing, hooking, netting etc. Primitive human hunters puncture their prey, usually not fatally, and then jog after the fleeing animal until it bleeds out. Aliens with arterial valves would bring down prey forcefully and immediately. They might rely more on traps or they might hunt deer-like prey by attaching some fatiguing or entangling device to a non-lethal barb which would cause the creature to be unable so encumbered or tangled as to not be able flee or flee fast. (We used to hunt whales this way, in many different cultures, barb them with floats so the drag exhausted them and prevented them from diving.)

Some kind of barbed, weighted net or lasso might take the place of both bow and sword. When they moved on to chemical or other non muscle powered weapons, they would be more interest in crushing or concussive effects than they would penetration. Instead of evolving the handgoone first, they might go for some kind of flamethrower.

Major environment would have a lot of effects. Low grav world like Mars, (assuming they could retain atmosphere etc) would tilt the advantage towards armor, supported against gravity, against weapons, i.e. it would cost less energy to carry a unit of biological or technological armor than it than on earth but the power of weapons, most of which work perpendicular to gravity, would remain the same. An armored knight on Mars could wear armor 2-3 times as thick as on earth but swing of his sword would have the same or (owing to traction issues) less power.

If we bundled all this together with aliens with valves in their arteries and lower gravity favoring heavier armor, their entire hunting and weapon's technology would depend on superficial attacks of prey and foes e.g. setting the on fire, entangling and immobilizing etc.

The type of hunting they could do when in small primitive units, and the types of weapons they would have to use when in large scale coalition warfare, would feedback into their culture in many different ways, including altering their non-weapon technologies, which would feedback... and so on.

However, having said all that, its likely has their technology grew more powerful, it would begin to differentiate less. A nuke wouldn't behave differently on low-grav world than on earth. It would kill by heat, blast and radiation.

We can see the same effects even today with powered technology replacing muscles both in constructive and destructive work. As we say in Texas, a small woman with a gun is just a dangerous a huge man with a gun. Females still lag in infantry warfare where muscles still play a big role but they just as lethal as fighter pilots or radar technicians in bowls of a warship. Once we have real exoskeleton mech suits, even infantry won't matter anymore.

The same leveling would appear in regards to aliens. If we encounter them when their physiology dominates their technology (pre-industrial) they will look much different but if we encounter them in space, its likely the technological differences will not be as significant.

Alien social structure springing from biology would also have effects. For example, some sort of high trust, low internal competition hive-like species would never fallen in anti-nuclear power hysteria, chemophobia, "all-natural" superstitions etc because they wouldn't have the internal and incessant scramble for social status dominance that humans do.

Before you flame me: The National Science Academies of all developed nations have concluded that: 1) Anthrogenic gasses are forcing the climate, 2) Nuclear power can be safely utilized to provide dependable, lowest-carbon energy almost everywhere in the world. (Heck, organic food has literally killed more people in the last 30 years than nuclear power has in nearly 80. 3) Genetically modified foods are safe both for human consumption and the environment. 4) "All-natural" does not mean either beneficial or harmless.

Just as clearly, it’s the same social and political demographic that thought Marxism, Eugenics, Freudianism etc were great ideas as well. The same demographics that were dangerous technophiles for over a century years are now luddites. The only thing that remains constant is that if they win the political debate, they rule society.

Currently, they are causing massive distortions in our technology decisions, with all that implies and if their bet the whole farm on alternative energy doesn't work out to prevent global warming, well...

A hive species might show up to hothouse planet Earth with humans extinct or knocked back to savagery and poke around and think, "they had the technology to stop it all, why didn't they use it." Such technological decisions would be inexplicable to them.

… or, if you don't like that scenario just use the conventional Hollywood inverted narrative. Brave, altruistic and definitely not greedy or power crazed activist and far seeing politicians, who descend intellectually from a subclass who has always been right in the end for centuries,take heed of the climatologist and try to use appropriate technology, "sustainability" etc to head of the problem only to be stymied by people so greed, stupid and short sighted that they can honestly be analogized to those crypto-Nazis who deny the Holocaust in WWII ever happened. Run away global warming or at least climate "change" has the same effect as above.

Either scenario is not one hive aliens would understand to because their primary mode of competition would be hive-to-hive and not individual-to-individual and coalition vs coalition. It would appear to the xeno-archeologist that humans reached a high level of technological development and then just found themselves incapable of making the correct collective technological decisions at a moment of crisis.

So, even as technology begins to diminish physiological difference between species in many environments, a lot differences in technology and technological use would still exist.

That alone might make a good story, humans and an alien species trying to figure out why the other seems to make irrational decisions about some aspect of their technology.

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