When would technology replace magic? [closed]

In a world where magic and technology coexist in a Final Fantasy type world: at what point would one become redundant?

Would cell phones be easier than whatever magical means of communication? Would a combustion engine be better than the magical alternative? Or would there be no point of redundancy? Would the world carry on with some mixture of both magic and technology?

• If magic would exist, it wouldn't replace technology. That's something that makes no sense. Many people do not seem to be aware of what technology is, please google the word. I'm not saying you are using the wrong word here, I'm saying you are asking a question that should never be asked. Think about it for a second, what is technology really? Dec 7 '17 at 7:12
• Magic is open to everyone? If it's not, technology would replace magic like iron weapons replaced bronze weapons; not because they were better (they weren't), but because they were cheaper and iron was much more abundant than tin, so everybody could be armed with iron weapons instead of just captains and chieftains. Technology can be used by everyone, not just wizards. Dec 7 '17 at 8:08
• @Raditz_35: Your comment is only valid if everyone can do magic. If not, then that means there is a subset of humans who cannot use magic, and they will of course favor technology (as opposed to relying on the goodwill of the magical elite, who could effectively wield political power by providing thing to non-magical citizens). If the % of magic users is sufficiently small (or limited for another reason, e.g. a global mana pool so there is a limit to how much magic can be performed in a given timeframe), technology will be more ubiquitous than magic. Dec 7 '17 at 9:20
• @Raditz_35: If birds invented airplanes (let's assume it's green energy), then they've effectively supplanted their wings for long-distance travel. If they invent jetpacks (again, green energy), they've replaced short-distance travel. If your innate skill (magic) takes effort, and a technological equivalent takes less effort (or is objectively better) with no additional drawbacks, then technology surpasses magic in that particular field. This is exactly the same as vaccines and antidotes, as opposed to the body's immune system. Or shoes, when our feet already have soles. Improvements. Dec 7 '17 at 10:10
• Barring a precise definition of how your magic system works, this question has no definitive answer. Dec 7 '17 at 13:26

When one is cheaper than the other (In terms of time, effort, and money)

In terms of time and cost, I think the one that will survive the most will be the one quicker to use or to learn, and cheaper. If communication magic is easy to learn and spellbooks are cheap, then why would you invest in long distance communication technology?

This is just an example. A vice-versa version would be if guns are cheaper and stronger than investing in offensive magic spells (time, effort, money), then why learn them?

I think time will consider them obsolete and primitive such as how we make fire nowadays. We just use matches or lighters than actual flint and rubbing wood together.

• Within a given world magic itself is only a technology. What makes it magic for us is that it shouldn't work according to our rules of physics. If a world has different set of rules then engineers (even if they call themselves magicians) will make use of those rules. At that point it's like all technology: The most cost efficient one wins. Dec 7 '17 at 12:13
• @Christoph Minor correction to magic itself is only a technology: Magic would probably be technique rather than technology, similar to how you wouldn't call electrical engineering or sign language a technology. Of course, magical technology may also exist, e.g. mana crystals, enchanted items.
– user10328
Aug 8 '18 at 10:41

I don't know anything about the specific world mentioned but I think if magic and technology based on science co-existed in a world then

1) science would eventually discover the science behind magic.

2) magic would be used as science to augment technology (computers, machines, whatever). I think you're making a mistake in assuming that magic is stagnant. This might be the case if all magic is of a divine source where all the spells where handed down at the beginning of time and they exist unchanged, but in a normal world any technology would evolve with time and this also includes the technology of magic: even in a fantasy world without advanced scientific knowledge new spells are made, new potions, new methodologies, what have you. So eventually, they would make new magic which works together with non-magical technology, they would make new gadgets which can use magic or can be augmented by magic, and this would happen even before they discover the science behind magic.

• the science behind magic Arguably, that's a contradiction. Magic is generally defined as things that are not scientifically explainable (by the viewer), yet happen anyway. If we look at a medieval setting and someone uses a nuclear device, it may appear like magic to the medieval people, but we (the viewer) will not consider it magic because we know it's scientifically sound. As the viewer, we only describe things as magical if we have no way of justifying that it works the way it's portrayed to work. Dec 7 '17 at 9:26
• @Flater Replace "science behind magic" with the words "the rules of magic". People will always try to understand how magic works and whether magic can be stored into devices or whether devices that can create magic by themselves could be constructed. Can a device be constructed that will empower your magic? "Science" means that something is being studied and advancement in knowledge is made. Dec 7 '17 at 9:44
• @Sulthan: Same difference. Science is essentially "the approach to figuring out the rules". Can you scientifically examine magic? Yes. Magic is a phenomenon, science is a methodical approach. However, magic inherently entails a lack of scientific explanation. Scientifically examining magic can lead to two possible outcomes: (A) It's scientifically sound (and therefore it's not magic) or (B) the results are always inconclusive and no scientific conclusion can be drawn (thus it is still magic). Your suggestion is valid, but would change the inherent definition of magic that we commonly use. Dec 7 '17 at 9:55
• @Sulthan: Note that you could redefine magic in a story. E.g. if you define it as "things that are fueled by mana", then something can objectively be called magic while also being scientifically sound. But reading the OP's question, he seems to be using the general definition of magic (= scientifically unproven phenomena), not a custom one. Dec 7 '17 at 9:58
• @flater If magic is predictable it is scientifically understandable, there is no way around it. A lot of technology starts as magic, as things we don't understand, look at alchemy which led to chemistry, they know if you did certain rituals with the right things stuff happened but no one had a clue how it happened, then eventually we figured it out, that is exactly what will happen.
– John
Dec 7 '17 at 11:42

Neither would replace the other

There is no reason why anyone would want to replace one or the other from a purely scientific point of view. Using technology makes redundant tasks easier, because nobody has to manually do them. Even if magic could theoretically do the same thing, someone has to control the magic. Being able to do the same thing, but without any concentration or energy drain would be a big advantage for technology.

At the same time you are not as dependent on a single human being. Imagine you have one highly skilled mage that can do a task for you and your business depends on this task being done properly - what happens to your business when this person dies or is just ill for some time? You would need redundancy by having a mage of the same skill level. But having humans of exactly the same skill level in anything is difficult. There are always differences. With machines that produce the same thing over and over again this is far easier to accomplish.

On the other hand magic is something probably anybody, or at least most people, can do with varying degrees of proficiency. If I can create a little flame I don't need a lighter. Ever. And because I like that spell and I am good at casting it I can replace one piece of technology on a personal level - because I don't use magic as often and won't ever be drained of mana. Someone else might be really, really bad at fire magic though - but maybe he can create wind, which might be nice on a hot summer day.

Magic could also do things that are one-time-only. If it's too expensive to build a machine you just use a bunch of mages. And if there is currently no technology capable of doing what you want to do your magic might do the trick. Combinations of magic and technology as with flying cities or magical bullets might be another idea, depending on the specifics of the magic and its interaction with technology. The most important factor might be whether technology could allow to store and utilize magical energy. A mana battery might make individual humans not such an important factor and would make sure that you don't need humans 24/7 to do stuff - you can store energy from multiple humans over a long time and utilize whenever and in whichever quantity you need.

Both will complement each other - there is no practical reason why one would replace the other.

Of course you could have religious bans on magic/technology and strict rules/laws about their usage to limit one or the other in certain areas in any way you would imagine.

If a machine can replace something, or has innovated something, we adapt to the innovation and replace the procedure or utility that it has innovated.

In our history, we replaced arrows with bullets, stones with metal, and so much more.

But Magic, for me, might be difficult to replace, as Magic is immeasurable as currently we provide proofs based on Science, and we measure something based on science (It is the magic of technology)

So, In your world, when could the people replace the magic they posses with technological advancements?

You have to provide first the limitations when using magic.

If a mage could cast a fire spell which also causes his hands to burn and decay, then he might replace the said spell by just using a flame thrower, a rocket, or a nuclear missile depending on how much power he wishes. If a water breathing spell makes the user look like a fish if used it for long periods of time, then a scuba diving equipment, or snorkel can replace the said magic.

Coexistence of technology and magic could happen too. As long as your the boundaries of your magic is nullified by your technology. Technology could also provide protection from magic, provided if the limitation of the magic is negated by your technology.

There will be no point of redundancy if only specific human can use magic. Think of it like being "magically disabled". I can even see the future where those without magic is considered disabled, and those who can develop a policy to accommodate them.

However, there can exist a world where both coexist simply because both is considered just as different branch of knowledge, similar to how physic and biology different, but both complements each other.

A gun that shoots magical energy can work because producing a projectile launcher saves magical energy, while preserving the destructive power of Magic Missile and long range of a firearm.

When society deems it fit to do so.

This can be influenced by many factors:

Economic Factor
Bwrites answer sums this up pretty well

Religion
Secespitus answer touches on this. The book Dune comes to mind here with the religious ban on artificial intelligence and the need for the prescience inducing drug spice which can be analogous to magic.

Fashion
Humans have the wonderful ability to weigh the pros and cons of an issue and then ignore them completely and make decisions on whim. If this is done by influential people than this could be a deciding factor.

Government Regulation
If the government enforces regulations for various reasons.

Summary
There are many reasons why this could happen, but I think trying to predict which one would require magic, which has been replaced with science in our society.