Archive for December 4, 2006

Amnesia in pre-literate societies + Ignorant Invaders

The story is always familar to us in video games (especially Japanese ones). The civilization advances and then finds out that another civilization before it was more advanced. But how does this happen or has it happened? Imagine for a second if only 300 people in the world could make cars and they were to die tomorrow. Would we still be able to make cars? Eventually yes, as we developed the technologies again and extrapolated what we need from preserved specimens, but if we didn’t have writing and hence lost an immense oral tradition of knowledge or if the education gap was so high as to make transference of knowledge (not to mention the perspective and values of a more educated class) hard to do then it’s perfectly possible our society would fall apart. We are not so far from such a society at any moment, after all the number of information theory researchers in the world amounts to maybe 30 to 40k, but these people have left behind writing and we’re all close enough to them to be able to pick up where they left off, but my point being primitivism in a society can easily come after the class driving technological development has been killed off which does happen every once in awhile. If there was no writing and then all the quantum phyiscists died off, how long would it take for even educated folks to figure out the basics of quantum mechanics? We have now arrived at a context similar to that of a pre-literate tribe who has lost their elite to disease.

Let’s say that tomorrow aliens arrive on earth. Back on their home planet they have a naturally occuring energy source that provides them with the ability to fly through space at faster than light speeds. The aliens are not necessarily more advanced than us, they merely had the advantage of geography and context on their side to let them reach us first, but what if the aliens aren’t even advanced enough to know this, what if they lack the critical hindsight to see the wealth of intelligence before them? Then we not only have geographically advantaged invaders, but ignorant ones too and maybe they’ll kill off the mechanics? Now what are you going to do?

Maybe I should write science fiction?

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