Questions tagged [technological-development]

For questions about the progress of a society's technological state.

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How long would it take to create a Windows 1.0 capable machine from complete scratch?

I've been thinking about this concept for a while and have not been able to figure out what could be a plausible answer. It seemed appropriate for my first question on this website. Imagine an ...
Mano Gilissen's user avatar
110 votes
32 answers
29k views

If 120 experts in 12 different fields were sent back 10,000 years, could they recreate the 21st century in 100 years?

Ten experts (CEOs, professors) of each of the fields of math, physics, chemistry, economics, engineering, electrical engineering, CS, sociology, psychology, art, politics and education (120 total) are ...
user2741831's user avatar
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95 votes
30 answers
43k views

What could an average modern human achieve in medieval times?

Let's imagine that on one fateful day, John Doe, the absolutely average citizen, wakes up just outside of a small village during the Middle Ages, somewhere in Europe, maybe France or England. Let's ...
zovits's user avatar
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82 votes
19 answers
16k views

How would an aquatic race develop computers?

Following on from this question and assuming the race in question had developed the ability to create tools how would they approach the need for mass calculation. Our early computers were used to ...
Liath's user avatar
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72 votes
20 answers
10k views

What would it take for society reach a point where the time it takes to learn leaves no time to discover?

As society advances, technological discovery adds more and more to our accumulated knowledge. As such, scientists need to learn more and more to get to the point where they start exploring the ...
Telastyn's user avatar
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66 votes
29 answers
16k views

How would humanity enter a Dark Age?

Humans have grown fat, complacent and cock-sure of the certainty of future progress, arrogantly expecting to build minds in their own image. They even dream of building themselves a city, with a tower ...
Serban Tanasa's user avatar
63 votes
16 answers
9k views

Speedrun to the moon in one lifetime?

Imagine you have a large population of adolescent humans (as large as you need) on a completely uncultivated Earth, initially containing no artificial structures whatsoever, only natural resources. ...
Franklin Pezzuti Dyer's user avatar
53 votes
11 answers
11k views

How much would we learn from observing an FTL starship fly by?

On a mythical world almost identical to our own, deep space telescopes notice as an object appears out near the orbit of Jupiter. In the instance after its appearance, the light which bounced off it ...
Henry Taylor's user avatar
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50 votes
13 answers
8k views

How to explain centuries of cultural/intellectual stagnation?

I'm moving a ton of people (asteroid miners and affiliated personnel living in the Asteroid Belt) onto a generation ship which will take years to reach its cruising speed of .1c, and which is part of ...
Z.Schroeder's user avatar
  • 11.3k
47 votes
24 answers
13k views

Why would the richest and strongest country on Earth consistently fail at Big Projects?

Imagine you have a large, powerful nation. Let's say about 320 million well-educated citizens, occupying the largest part of a rich, fertile continent. It's the richest country on the planet. For my ...
Serban Tanasa's user avatar
46 votes
24 answers
22k views

Why do aliens who visit us have higher tech than us? Couldn't they wait for us to have it too?

It is a well known fact that if aliens invaded, it would be our puny kill-one-person-then-reload-for-half-a-second-or-more-firearms against their super-cool-ultra-mega-thingy-laser-mumble-quantum-...
Mark Gardner's user avatar
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46 votes
22 answers
15k views

Would a 100% simulated war be a way to solve national conflict?

My world is similar to our daily world except that fully immersive virtual reality is already well-developed. The virtual reality is built by scanning real environment. The system was first used to do ...
cytsunny's user avatar
  • 1,170
41 votes
25 answers
11k views

What could prevent us from making alien technology if we had the schematics?

This question is inspired by Could medieval people produce automatic firearms if they had access to the schematics? I have simply moved it forwards in time as follows: In 2019 we receive an alien ...
chasly - supports Monica's user avatar
41 votes
10 answers
8k views

Could a technological society develop without wood?

Imagine a world things evolved slightly different: plants never evolved into trees. There are bushes, herbs, mosses, etc, but no trees. Thus no wood to make planks, nor for building. Given abundant ...
Levans's user avatar
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40 votes
11 answers
16k views

How would the indigenous peoples of North America have developed in the absense of the Europeans?

In some alternate history, Europeans never discovered the Americas for one reason or another. Maybe the initial motivations just weren't there, or maybe the visionaries of the day fell ill and died ...
DMQ's user avatar
  • 1,068
39 votes
21 answers
7k views

Should AI have faith too?

Religion plays a major role in human history and shaped our thinking as well as technology, conflict can arise from people who misunderstand each other religion and started an arm race. Set in 24th ...
user6760's user avatar
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38 votes
12 answers
6k views

Could an unusually long lived being continue to learn with the times?

I'm thinking about vampires, as we commonly see vampires who are hundreds (in some cases thousands of years old). In some depictions they appear old fashioned, in others they appear to be as up to ...
Liath's user avatar
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38 votes
13 answers
6k views

What should a god put on an island, so that its human settlers will more quickly achieve an industrialised society?

A class of young gods at Cthulhu University were given a planet to divide between themselves. They are each given an artificially isolated island the size of Ukraine, and must make conditions on that ...
KeizerHarm's user avatar
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38 votes
5 answers
4k views

Doing chemistry under water?

Aquatic races are usually assumed to be stunted in technological development by the inability to create fire or forge metals. But what about doing chemistry at all? The development of chemistry in ...
Logan R. Kearsley's user avatar
37 votes
17 answers
12k views

Can the number of letters in alphabet suggest how advanced civilization is?

Let's suppose we intercepted a message in an unknown language. We were not able to decipher it, but we were able to decode it. Meaning we know the letters but not the meaning of the words in the text. ...
lsrom's user avatar
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37 votes
20 answers
14k views

Teleportation is invented but it has nasty side-effects % of the time, how will that affect usage of the technology?

A few decades ago, a new glorious invention in our huge FTL interstellar empire was created - teleportation tech. A 2 meter cube is technologically put in a "Warp" field at one location and deployed 1 ...
jo1storm's user avatar
  • 1,034
37 votes
17 answers
6k views

How far could civilisation develop within one lifetime - starting from nothing?

This question here asked if it would be possible to reach the moon within a lifetime for a civilisation starting with "nothing". The answer to that question, quite clearly, is: no way. But ...
fgysin's user avatar
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37 votes
20 answers
7k views

10 Commandments to prevent technological development

If an advanced being or group wanted to limit a human society's technological development, they might establish a series of cultural taboos or religious guidelines to influence the societies ...
Josh King's user avatar
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37 votes
9 answers
9k views

What reason would an alien civilization have for building a Dyson Sphere (or Swarm) if cheap Nuclear fusion is available?

The Dyson Dilemma states that every civilization of a great enough development stage will want to capture all of the energy from its home star and surround it with a Dyson Swarm that uses solar panels ...
SurpriseDog's user avatar
  • 3,883
36 votes
9 answers
7k views

What would limit the size of a sail-powered sea cargo ship using modern (or near future) technologies, and how big could we go?

Fossil-fuel-powered shipping is obviously much better than old-school sail-powered ships for moving cargo around. But if winds were predictable, fossil fuels rare and solar/nuclear power not an option ...
Seamus's user avatar
  • 461
36 votes
10 answers
6k views

Could a technological society develop without agriculture?

Before the advent of agriculture, humans fed themselves by hunting and gathering. Hunter-gatherer societies tend to function quite differently from agricultural societies. Arguably, historically, ...
gerrit's user avatar
  • 3,419
34 votes
17 answers
8k views

Could the Industrial Revolution be delayed indefinitely? Or is it inevitable once a certain point in development is reached?

I am considering whether a pre-Industrial civilisation could carry on for millennia on an Earth-like planet without entering the Industrial Age. Of course, regularly destroying everything with ...
Jnani Jenny Hale's user avatar
34 votes
18 answers
6k views

Bare Minimum Tech for Spaceworthy Vessel

In my story, a planet of low-tech natives in the midst of war are abruptly brought into contact with a much more advanced empire. There are many historical precedents for this kind of event, and ...
Megalonychidae's user avatar
34 votes
22 answers
4k views

Would cultured meat (artificial) render animal slaughter illegal? [closed]

Cultured meat, also called synthetic meat, cell-cultured meat, clean meat, etc. is a reality. It seems that the only limitation so far is the mass production of it. This might be accomplished in the ...
user avatar
33 votes
17 answers
5k views

What will our great-grandchildren play with? [closed]

Assuming for a second that our future won't be hijacked by shackle-breaking AIs, I'm planning a lighter segment in my story, which unfortunately for me involves children playing. Now you would ask, ...
Serban Tanasa's user avatar
33 votes
6 answers
4k views

At what point in European history could a government build a printing press given a basic description?

Say a time traveler ends up back in time and has earned the good graces of one of the nations' kings by sharing some of his future knowledge. Knowing that the printing press was an important ...
dsollen's user avatar
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33 votes
14 answers
5k views

Can two civilizations on nearby stars develop independently but be at a similar technological level?

One thing that a few science fiction films seem to get wrong: it is extremely unlikely for two civilizations to evolve completely independently and yet be within a few hundred years of each other ...
user avatar
32 votes
21 answers
9k views

Is it possible to make spaceship very difficult to reverse engineer if you can't oversee its usage?

I have a situation where planet A (democracy with a rule of law) has an alliance of convenience with planet B (dictatorship with disregard for a law). In order for B to effectively fight a common ...
Saren's user avatar
  • 617
32 votes
9 answers
9k views

What would modern IT look like if Silicon Valley had been completely destroyed in 1985?

In the 1985 movie A View to a Kill, James Bond discovers--and then foils--a plot by to destroy Silicon Valley, in a manner that makes it look like a natural disaster. The plot for doing so is a bit ...
JesseTG's user avatar
  • 2,667
32 votes
11 answers
8k views

What would need to happen to history to make a 21st century steampunk world?

Everybody loves steampunk. Without reading the Wikipedia page, the main idea of steampunk is a world (usually 19th century or thereabouts) where steam power is used universally, and computers as we ...
Shokhet's user avatar
  • 2,841
31 votes
17 answers
9k views

Teaching people not to ask gods for help

(For my own needs) I write stories that are primarily fantasy, but with very strong touch of modern technologies (modern technologies converted to magic world, for example magic bomb that behaves like ...
Václav's user avatar
  • 1,889
31 votes
7 answers
8k views

At what point in time would humans notice a 21st century satellite observing them?

I was considering a story based on a version of Earth that was being observed from the beginning of civilisation (Around 3000-4000 BC in my understanding "Early civilizations arose first in Lower ...
KM.Thomas's user avatar
  • 429
31 votes
6 answers
5k views

How would we try to defuse Yellowstone?

There exists a fictional future world where we have determined space travel is impractical for the majority of the species, despite the fact that technology is more advanced than today. There are no ...
kaine's user avatar
  • 5,269
30 votes
15 answers
5k views

Minimum tech level required to outrun a terminator?

In the Terminator movies, a nigh-unstoppable cyborg travels back in time from the future to the present day to relentlessly hunt down and kill the human protagonists. They primarily manage to evade it ...
Makst's user avatar
  • 955
30 votes
14 answers
11k views

How to keep democracies from falling behind technologically?

In 4X strategy games I’ve played (like Stellaris), closed forms of government (closed oligarchy, dictatorship) seem to be overpowered when it comes to scientific output compared to the “democratic” ...
taylor swift's user avatar
  • 2,438
30 votes
29 answers
7k views

Why would an alien race have developed space travel and yet not have other technology?

I have a race of humanoids who live on two planets in a binary system. This planet is mostly a water world, with some swamps and about three Australias. The other planet is very dry. But, I have a ...
Xandar The Zenon's user avatar
30 votes
12 answers
7k views

In a world where wood is scarce, what are the most important things you need wood for?

In most large civilizations on Earth, wood has been a fairly plentiful resource, so we've used it for all sorts of things: Houses, boats, carts, spears, arrows, bows, shields, barrels, firewood, paper ...
Claus Appel's user avatar
  • 1,040
30 votes
11 answers
4k views

How would the road network change, after all cars are self-driving?

In a future where all cars and public services are self-driving the way, I am assuming traffic congestion would be seriously limited, if not removed completely, because the road network would also ...
guido's user avatar
  • 1,490
29 votes
17 answers
9k views

Could a technologically advanced society exist as a feudal monarchy?

The Enlightenment brought both technological and scientific advancement (starting a period of discovery and achievement that hasn't yet ended) and social/political advancement. We generally think of ...
Rory M. Tims's user avatar
29 votes
8 answers
5k views

How close to interstellar space travel could humans get in the near future?

I had in mind a sci-fi setting where humans have begun terraforming nearby planets without the benefit of faster-than-light travel. For example, Wikipedia lists a handful of terrestrial planets within ...
TenthJustice's user avatar
29 votes
7 answers
9k views

What is the minimum size of a self-sufficient industrial country?

Imagine there is a country in which there are all important natural resources (oil, gas, metal ores, wood, etc.) in their natural form and which lies in a temperate climate region. There may be some ...
Irigi's user avatar
  • 4,586
28 votes
8 answers
10k views

Could Wasps and Ants reach the stone age?

In my world, a group of scientists prepare for the "inevitable" extinction of man by manufacturing* true, efficient, social(1) hive minds from Order Hymenoptera, specifically from the wasp waist ...
user avatar
28 votes
11 answers
3k views

How to start an industrial revolution without textiles

My world does not have stagnant technology, and of course there is going to be an industrial revolution. In the real industrial revolution, it began with the need for textiles, which led to the ...
Crafter's user avatar
  • 2,595
27 votes
21 answers
11k views

How to prevent humanity from using alien spaceships and technology exclusively?

A long time ago, far far away, in the distant future of this galaxy, (don't think about that too hard) aliens created links between star systems enabling interstellar travel to occur within a day. Now ...
X-27 is done with the network's user avatar
27 votes
12 answers
11k views

Why haven't we built city-grade domes to protect and control the environment?

I'm not sure if you guys are familiar with Michio Kaku, but he's a renowned physicist who has often talked about humanity's role in the future. He mentions some valuable words about how we are still a ...
jdero's user avatar
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