High Technology in a Low Technology World

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Kaellpae, Aug 19, 2011.

  1. Kaellpae

    Kaellpae Grandmaster

    411
    6
    18
    Last night I got a really good idea for my story and the origins of the world.

    Would you or do you know of many authors that include High Technology (nanites, lasers, and the like) in a Low Technology world?

    Well when I say I got a good idea, I mean it was good to me. I would be implementing this setting in my story and possibly making it a major plot point for one of my characters.

    Basically there are three scientists who have perfected a nanite that makes the host body immortal, because science is cool. As long as the nanites are left undamaged, and the repairbots are able to fix the downed bots. Playing with the idea to make them self replicating so the bots don't all get destroyed or go out of commission.

    I think it would be best to have a housing unit in the body, that way if by some chance the nanites were in an evil 'god' the said person could still be killed.
    immortality with certain drawbacks. But being immortal with no weaknesses is boring.
    Also, this would be going along with my Post-apocalyptic Fantasy World.

    Feedback wanted. And if I need to clarify I will, as soon as I get to a computer.
     
  2. Ravana

    Ravana Istari

    2,022
    295
    83
    I'm the wrong person to ask about nanites–not because I don't know about them, because I hate the way they get (ab)used by most authors.

    Lasers are easy: they're just focused light. I'm not sure how much "low" tech it would require to generate a useful one–the amount of power required would probably be prohibitive in most settings–but at least in principle they could be developed by any culture with sufficient knowledge of optics.

    I've seen plenty of authors who used technological remnants in a post-technological world. Not sure I've seen any that used new technology, stuff that was developed after a collapse. As for whether or not it would fit, just remember Clarke's Law; anyone not recognizing it as technological would regard it as magic. Which, around here at least, is fine. ;) (The one that comes to mind immediately is Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series–though some parts of that are so bizarre that even you as the reader aren't sure whether it's magic or technology at work. It's some great writing, at least, whether it helps in your situation or not.)
     
  3. Kaellpae

    Kaellpae Grandmaster

    411
    6
    18
    How about a bacteria created by scientists to keep them immortal?
    no nanobots, because yes they're over used.

    Three scientists develop bacteriums that make the host bodies immortal, one for strength, possible increased mental abilities, or something of the sort. Then they decide to destroy the world. To start over and raise themselves as gods. Only the last human test subject they had didn't die. So he's out there, immortal, and they don't know it yet. He knows what has happened and wants revenge, but he knows he has to bide his time. He waits a few hundred years (make sure to completely surprise the gods, and to get to the era I want), then sets about getting his revenge for destroying everything he loved. If he gathers a group of people to help, he wouldn't tell them the real reason he wanted revenge. Not the whole story at least, just in case he gets double-crossed.

    Opinions?
     
  4. Ravana

    Ravana Istari

    2,022
    295
    83
    It's not overused, so much as misused: most people treat nanites as if they were magical, ignoring the fact that they come with some pretty stiff limitations in the real world. Yes, bacteria would be considerably more plausible, in my opinion. (In fact, in order for a nanite to be useful for much more than a single simple repetitive task, it would require complexity approaching that of a microorganism anyway… and self-reproduction is not among the world's "simpler" tasks. Neither is keeping yourself from being eaten by antibodies, if you're going to be introduced into a living system.…)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  5. Kaellpae

    Kaellpae Grandmaster

    411
    6
    18
    Bacteria it is then!
    I would need the nanobots to be complex, and I could see an alternate, modern earth having bacteria engineering breakthroughs before nanotech.
     
  6. Shadoe

    Shadoe Mystagogue

    354
    4
    18
    As far as high tech in a low tech world, I can think of Doris Egan's Ivory series. William Dietz did it in some of his worlds, too. In both cases, I thought it worked well.

    Nanites to make the person immortal, that would be the basis for Lynsay Sands' books. The people with nanites were "vampires," and required blood to keep the nanites working. Since they were originally created in ancient times on Atlantis, that would probably include high tech in a low tech world, but nobody talks about that period, so...
     
  7. Kaellpae

    Kaellpae Grandmaster

    411
    6
    18
    It would be after an apocalyptic event. Some remnants of our world would remain, but most usable technology would be gone. The only people remembering the technology first hand would be the immortals. Some of the world would probably be reminiscent of Lud in the Dark Tower Series in the way that the city is standing, but just barely. I couldn't see many people populating the old cities, as they would be too hazardous with no way to keep them from falling down all around them.

    I like the idea of vampires, especially off the map variations of them. Lately, though, they seem to be way too oveused. The same with zombies, and some other basic fantasy creatures.
     
  8. Lord Darkstorm

    Lord Darkstorm Mystagogue

    351
    28
    28
    If you are going to use bacteria, don't forget mutations. So they are immortal, and maybe one is really strong...but dumb as a rock, and another really smart and can hardly move without help...or maybe some have been changed so they no longer look human...or whatever your imagination might dream up.

    That's the fun of living organisms, they can change and do things not intended by the creators. (which gives me a few ideas for one my stories I'll get back to one of these years) Yep, glad I dropped by for this one, I should have considered mutations in mine. :D
     
  9. Kaellpae

    Kaellpae Grandmaster

    411
    6
    18
    Mutations are a given. If there were enough of a certain mutation then you could have a new race. There will be nuclear mutations, as my universe is taking a real world and comic book take on nuclear exposure. Radiation sickness and some pretty cool genetic mutations (good way to introduce new animals).
     
  10. Ravana

    Ravana Istari

    2,022
    295
    83
    One interesting thing about the immortality bacteria is that it would have to be immune to mutation itself–and so presumably protect anyone who has it similarly. If it mutated, it would almost certainly stop working… or at least stop working the way it was intended to.

    (Which could be a good reason to favor nanites, as they're rather less prone to mutation–though they would not be immune to it: one random glitch in a "program," one replication error, even soaking up exactly the wrong radiation and having an important atom in your makeup change into something less, ehh… "compatible," and you could be right up that same creek.)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  11. Lord Darkstorm

    Lord Darkstorm Mystagogue

    351
    28
    28
    I think the bacteria mutating would be the most fun. How many little changes could they have while still fulfilling their original purpose? Maybe they change every other month, causing variations in how the achieve their repairs. One day the immortal finds they have gills and can't breath above water...

    So much potential...
     
  12. Kaellpae

    Kaellpae Grandmaster

    411
    6
    18
    Maybe the science in my world has fused bacteria and nanobots. Could have the best of both worlds?
    Make it sound halfway legitimate at the very least. Maybe put a disclaimer saying I just made up the scientific facts so it would fill the needs in my story.
     
  13. Hans

    Hans Mystagogue

    219
    12
    18
    A lot changes. With a sufficiently large genetic code, which all creatures we know have, most mutations have no effect at all. Most of the remainder make the individual less productive. Only a tiny amount of the total makes them a little bit more productive. With lots of mutations in lots 'n lots of individuals you get progress.
    There never is the one big mutation. It always is very many very small steps. And there always are detours, indirections and dead ends. Lots of dead ends.
    I once had some numbers somewhere but can't find them right now.
     
  14. Shadoe

    Shadoe Mystagogue

    354
    4
    18
    This may sound whiny, but a lot of folks use the nuclear mutations thing... wrong. I would suggest first doing a lot of research on what a real nuclear mutation consists of (not nearly so cool as folks make it out to be). Or, perhaps the mutations could come from some "new" kind of dirty bomb - something that could cause the kind of mutations it sounds like you're looking for.
     
  15. Kaellpae

    Kaellpae Grandmaster

    411
    6
    18
    I haven't seen any examples of people using nuclear mutations wrong. And I know you would probably be more likely to get cancer or radiation sickness, but I will be looking into it. Most likely I will make sure it shows that it's a new type of biological/nuclear (bionuclear?) weapon that causes weakening of DNA so as it can be more easily confettied and fused into different ways. Lately I've been stuck on one character's origin and Dragons, so it's nice getting the origins of the world buffed out.
     
  16. grahamguitarman

    grahamguitarman Mystagogue

    377
    30
    28
    I don't know about nanites, the only mention of nanites in a novel I can recall would be william shattners star trek novels where captain kirk was resurrected using nanites.

    But I have just recently read the voyage of the Jerle Shanarra trilogy which has lasers, robots & a supercomputer trying to kidnap magic users to enslave as power sources.
     
  17. Ravana

    Ravana Istari

    2,022
    295
    83
    Hmm. It would depend on how "little" the little changes were, I suppose. Yes, mutations occur all the time: they're occurring in your body right now. In fact, that's part of why they can't mutate–or only mutate trivially–here.

    The problem is that aging, under our present understanding of it, comes about through the failure of cells to continue replicating themselves perfectly… which would mean the simplest route to immortality would be something that ensured cells continued to replicate perfectly. And it has to be the replication (if you want to be bound to "reality"): the cells themselves can't become immortal… because if they did, you'd swell to gigantic proportions as they continued to replicate without dying. Alternately, if the cells became immortal but stopped replicating, your body could never replace anything it lost–say, blood, for instance; you could never produce new antibodies (though I suppose you could make the immortal cells immune to all pathogens, making that rhetorical). So, at least on the simplest route, the immortality bacteria would have to be immune to any mutation that could possibly alter its effects on the organism… and I'm not sure how you'd do that without making it immune to mutation, period. After all, immunity to mutations–the ones that cause aging–is what you're after in the first place, under this scenario.

    In fact, one of the undesirable cell mutations that happens all the time is when a cell does become immortal–yes, it happens–and continues to replicate itself while avoiding normal processes that cause cell death. We have a word for this: cancer.

    I do like the fact you pointed out that "there never is the one big mutation," though. This is one of my gripes about comic books: no, we don't expect "reality" there, but I often try to write comic-style stories (that is, ones with "super"-beings in them), adhering as close as possible to the real world… and this is far and away the most common violation of real-world mechanics. A mutagenic event that caused someone to obtain super-powers would have to rewrite the genetic code every cell in that person's body at once–and in the same way–or, at a minimum, would have to rewrite significant portions of them, to enable them to outcompete and replace the person's "normal" cells over time… without causing the normal effect of such a change, which would be death. (The person's, not the cell's.) And the body must be able to continue to produce these new cells even afterward, to replace normal losses, so it requires that the genetic code be rewritten: otherwise, the body will produce its original, "non-super" cells, and the alterations (powers) would fade… rapidly. Even allowing for the fact that some cells do mutate under stimulus to a better-adapted form, the possibility that it could happen as a flash event across the entire organism is, shall we say, "minimal," when you consider that 100 trillion cells have to jump the same way at the same time. And I can't count the number of times someone received Captain America's blood (or anyone else's: that's just the one I remember seeing most often), and ended up getting his abilities… pure crap: (A) if his blood could outcompete the cells of the recipient, it would kill that person; or (B) the person's genetic code would not be rewritten, so he/she could not replace the lost "super"-cells, let alone would the alteration spread from a relatively minimal number of one type of cell to all the other cells in the body–muscle, bone, etc.; or else (C) the person's genetic code would be rewritten… and that person would become a clone of Cap (or whoever), not just someone who ended up with the same powers.

    Like I said, we tend to suspend disbelief when it comes to such matters in comics. Though I've also learned a lot of science from comics… so I'd kind of like to see them make up their minds. (Along the same lines: don't even get me started on comic-book "mutants" as a separate "species".… :mad: )
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  18. Ravana

    Ravana Istari

    2,022
    295
    83
    It really depends on your time frame. Mutations accumulate over time, and as a result of reinforcement through breeding. You aren't talking about having everyone in your world sprout wings because some bombs went off; you're talking about numerous generations descended from those persons who managed to survive the radiation—at least long enough to reproduce. Under such circumstances, beneficial mutations would get reinforced—actually, any mutation that didn't lead to fatality would get reinforced, whether it did the organism any good or not; differences would accumulate, and in the long run you would get new "species" of humans (and everything else). The radiation would accelerate the rate of random mutation… and, yes, in the real world, most such mutations would not be benign; bioweapons might have had similar, or synchronistic, effects; and so on. Some of the bio (or chemical, or even radiological) weapons might have been designed specifically to cause fragmentation in genetic structures… but the randomness of such effects could have hastened the rate of adaptive mutations just as much as it would harmful ones.

    No matter how many generations you've gone through, odds are your humans still won't have wings (and if they do, it's because their arms adapted, not because they now have six limbs)… but there are a host of other things that might have arisen. Careful, selective cross-breeding produces new "breeds" of animals all the time, in a very few generations. Your people don't have the option of making such choices for themselves (probably—although the "lords" who run the place might have made such choices for them…): they're pretty well stuck with breeding with whoever else happens to be available, rather than making conscious eugenic choices to produce new "breeds" of themselves; all that means is that it will take more than a "few" generations to set the mutations in a given population. As I recall, you were talking centuries, if not millennia, since your initial event… plenty of time.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2011
  19. Kaellpae

    Kaellpae Grandmaster

    411
    6
    18
    So if a mutagen was spread through everyone on Earth, survival and mutations would be minimal? Because that's what I'm hoping for.
     
  20. Lord Darkstorm

    Lord Darkstorm Mystagogue

    351
    28
    28
    One thing we have found out over the years...radiation kills. While changes can be made through breeding, exposing someone to high radiation will pretty much kill them, and if not, they might wish they were dead.

    Radioactive spider....sure....
     
Loading...

Share This Page