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View Full Version : The perrenial question of why the Impeium is not supa-high tech.



Malice313
25-01-2011, 04:30
About once a fortnight there are threads along the lines of "Why is the Imperium not super high tech" or "why is modern stuff way better than IG tanks".

I came across an article about the increased economics of war here:

http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2011/01/21/eisenhower-charts-of-the-day/

So its easy to see why in something as large as a galaxy spanning empire which has to support perpetual total war, why quantity is vastly preferable than quality and why its preferable to have weapons systems simple enough so that crews can be trained in its operation and maintenance in a matter of hours as opposed to months or years.

Lord-Caerolion
25-01-2011, 04:58
They've developed FTL travel (technically), plasma energy that seems to require almost no fuel source, tanks capable of running on anything vaguely flammable, guns that can recharge via solar/flame power, force fields, weapons that control gravity, anti-gravity tech, the ability to keep someone alive almost forever, the ability to re-write/create minds, drugs that allow you to shapeshift, computers that could build you tractors out of logs and some metal planks, and people think they're not advanced? Keep in mind that most of the above mentioned technology isn't even used to its full potential, merely what the Mechanicus can reverse-engineer.
Yes, they have some technology that isn't that advanced, but most of their technology is far, far in advance of what we have. People keep saying the Tau are more advanced than the Imperium, but they're wrong. The Imperium is so far ahead of us in most cases it's scary.

Born Again
25-01-2011, 06:44
Ummmm.... yes. The OP was not here to state they are not high tech, or less advanced then us, he was providing a real-world answer to a question that other people have frequently asked.

The Imperium, in terms of Warp drives, plasma tech, etc, far more advanced than us, but people often question things such as their lack of sloped armour on their tanks (which BTW was specifically addressed in WD back when the latest IG tank kits came out)

Retribution
25-01-2011, 07:19
Ummmm.... yes. The OP was not here to state they are not high tech, or less advanced then us, he was providing a real-world answer to a question that other people have frequently asked.

The Imperium, in terms of Warp drives, plasma tech, etc, far more advanced than us, but people often question things such as their lack of sloped armour on their tanks (which BTW was specifically addressed in WD back when the latest IG tank kits came out)

What was the WD explanation?

Lord-Caerolion
25-01-2011, 07:34
Ummmm.... yes. The OP was not here to state they are not high tech, or less advanced then us, he was providing a real-world answer to a question that other people have frequently asked.

The Imperium, in terms of Warp drives, plasma tech, etc, far more advanced than us, but people often question things such as their lack of sloped armour on their tanks (which BTW was specifically addressed in WD back when the latest IG tank kits came out)

Sorry, misread his post. That'll teach me for responding after a long day of work... In that case, I...uh... posted to help further his point?

Born Again
25-01-2011, 07:48
What was the WD explanation?

*Digs through White Dwarfs...*


'Take the Imperial Guard tanks. In truth they share more in common with a tank from the interwar period of the 20th Century than the do a modern battle tank or anything "futuristic"... Imperial Guard tanks don't even have proper, sloped armour, and that's quite deliberate. Their design spawns from the thought process of what a fundamentally "backwards" tank would look like 38,000 years in the future in a place where technological understanding has collapsed and innovation is outlawed... The image is so exciting because these misunderstood innovations are embedded in fighting vehicles that make a modern tank look like a technical marvel' - Dave Andrews

Chem-Dog
25-01-2011, 08:38
I came across an article about the increased economics of war here:

http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2011/01/21/eisenhower-charts-of-the-day/

So its easy to see why in something as large as a galaxy spanning empire which has to support perpetual total war, why quantity is vastly preferable than quality and why its preferable to have weapons systems simple enough so that crews can be trained in its operation and maintenance in a matter of hours as opposed to months or years.

I want to disagree with this statement but I'm having trouble finding the words....
The Imperium doesn't view ecconomics the way anyone on present-day earth does, it's a feudal ecconomy with Terra at the centre, each system, every sector and subsector is a vassal that must pay fealty.

What I'm trying to get at is the relative unimportance of _people_ in the Imperium's concerns, it's a regime that considers itself (rightly or wrongly) as the only hope for humanity and with that mandate it's a simple numbers game, what matter that a hundred worlds eke out a life on half rations as long as Humanity is perserved?

There's a great bit in Eisenhorn that I think illustrates the point better than I can:-
During a visit to an ecclesiarchy world, an hourly routine of releasing 1000's of little yellow birds (I thought of them as canaries) into the sky. The pilgrims waiting to make their supplications to the saint (who's sarcred colour is, indeed, yellow) would be impressed by this beautiful display ignorant of the fact that these battery reared birds who are not indigenous to the arid deserts of the world will soon fly out of sight and perish in the withering heat. The Saint (forget the name) is the patron of setting out and undertaking. Those wishing to be blessed as they start new ventures do so unaware that out of sight, behind the grand edifices of the Ecclesiarchy lie trillions of little bird bones, the remains of creatures destined to die from the moment they are conceived.

That's what the Imperium's like and why the high lords of terra don't give a fig how many schools, hospitals or units of foodstuff could be produced fro the cost of any number of weapons or warmachines....

Memnos
25-01-2011, 09:14
Some points:



plasma energy that seems to require almost no fuel source,

Fusion - Not technically available now, but probably in the next decade or two.



tanks capable of running on anything vaguely flammable,

Steam powered devices have been running since Heron of Alexandria in 100 AD.

guns that can recharge via solar/flame power,

Russel Sohl invented a solar cell in 1941.

Thermoelectric generation has been around for some time.



force fields,

We have nothing close to that.



weapons that control gravity, anti-gravity


We barely even know what gravity -is-. For one of the most obvious universal principles, the fact that we think there might be such a thing as a graviton(But can't prove it) and are basically stumbling in the dark means that we probably are missing one 'Eureka!' moment from being able to do this ourselves. But this is beyond our capabilities.



the ability to keep someone alive almost forever,

Not as far fetched as it sounds. Once we can cure cancer and restore the cellular telomere caps, we might be able to do this ourselves.



the ability to re-write/create minds,

The human mind is still almost a complete mystery. People don't like to admit it, but it's true.

This will either turn out to be impossible, or will require a single 'Eureka!' moment.


drugs that allow you to shapeshift,

Impossible by our current understanding. Could be that they aren't drugs, but rather nanites that the Empire doesn't understand. That's a stretch, but possible in our future.


computers that could build you tractors out of logs and some metal planks,

Look up claytronics. This rapidly advancing science in developing programmable matter is one of the most fascinating things we're in the middle of.



and people think they're not advanced? Keep in mind that most of the above mentioned technology isn't even used to its full potential, merely what the Mechanicus can reverse-engineer.
Yes, they have some technology that isn't that advanced, but most of their technology is far, far in advance of what we have. People keep saying the Tau are more advanced than the Imperium, but they're wrong. The Imperium is so far ahead of us in most cases it's scary.

Other than FTL travel, the human mind and forcefields, most of the tech the Imperium has is less than a century away in the real world.

Str10_hurts
25-01-2011, 10:08
The thing is, is that they work with standard template constructs. They just copy, and have no knowledge to understand how it works. And to change would be heresy.

Lord-Caerolion
25-01-2011, 10:35
Also remember that most of what the Imperium has is used inefficiently, as they don't understand what it's actually capable of. Their machines are operated purely by rote, with no real deeper understanding, or at least not until you reach the highest ranks of the Mechanicus.

And another point on the "keeping someone alive forever" stuff, we've technically learned how to stop every virus in existance, so long as we have a map of its RNA. So far, we've developed a potential cure for Ebola, but the treatment has so far saved monkeys from doses 30,000 times the strength of a fatal dose when given an injection of the treatment half an hour after infection, and every day for the next six days. For some reason though, this was almost entirely ignored by the media. Here's a link to the story. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1282559/Ebola-virus-Scientists-discover-breakthrough.html?ITO=1490)

AndrewGPaul
25-01-2011, 13:04
Some points:

Fusion - Not technically available now, but probably in the next decade or two.

They've been saying that since the fifties. :)


Not as far fetched as it sounds. Once we can cure cancer and restore the cellular telomere caps, we might be able to do this ourselves.

Oh, it's easy, then. :rolleyes: I mean, targeted, consistent, reliable genetic alteration is pretty much fantasy at the moment; certainly on the sort of scale needed for extreme longevity/immortality.




The human mind is still almost a complete mystery. People don't like to admit it, but it's true.


Impossible by our current understanding. Could be that they aren't drugs, but rather nanites that the Empire doesn't understand. That's a stretch, but possible in our future.

Possible, but that sort of nanotechnology isn't anything more than fiction at present.




Look up claytronics. This rapidly advancing science in developing programmable matter is one of the most fascinating things we're in the middle of. I don't think that's what he means. Last I checked, a tree and a pile of boulders aren't magical "smart" materials. :)


Other than FTL travel, the human mind and forcefields, most of the tech the Imperium has is less than a century away in the real world.

I'm certainly impressed by your blasť attitude. I don't think I agree with your assessment of the timescale, though.

Godzooky
25-01-2011, 13:09
Look up claytronics. This rapidly advancing science in developing programmable matter is one of the most fascinating things we're in the middle of.

Dunno, mate. I'm a bit bored of Wallace & Gromit these days, to be perfectly honest.

Lord Solar Plexus
25-01-2011, 13:38
I'm actually more than astonished that the Imperium is still able to operate and produce all the machines and technical devices at all. A society that shuns innovation, hunts down individual, free thinking and does nothing to provide or further even basic scientific education must very soon run out of the means to (reverse-)engineer, to repair or even to operate complex machinery. It's all just magic wand-waving barely concealing a bad and illogical storyline. Remember, it was not this Imperium which invented all those things, it was an entity that the Imperium in its current state of mind would fight to the death.

This nothwithstanding, the notion that the state of things necessitates quantity over quality is not entirely plausible. Better weapons, better protection, overall better conditions for the fighting men, improved training can easily result in easier victories where mass assaults fail, it can result in valuable resources and long-trained personnel not being killed and it can result in lasting victories to start with. In fact, the Imperium apparently shares this view to some extent when it comes to the Marines.

sidcom
25-01-2011, 13:43
About that shapeshifting drugs, even in 40k universe it requires to undergo complicated and painfull physical operation to be able to completely change body structure (in case of imperial assasins) to sneak through very small ventilation tube or something like that. Drugs are functioning more like an activator of these changes

Yunaris
25-01-2011, 13:51
The lack of advance is purely down to the fact they are backwards looking. They look to the past and search out new technologies, mostly thanks to the dogma of the adeptus mechanicus.

Anything even like researching new technology is effectively heresy. The concept of research and development simply doesn't exist. Any technology that isn't found in an STC blueprint is considered suspect or at worst heretical to use.

Then bring down the huge problem of actually supplying an empire that takes years to transverse in total, with limited sources of production and all sorts of other logistical and beaurocratical nightmares. It's a giant juggernaught, much like the Roman Empire was at it's peak.

The Imperium was super advanced, they still cling to some of the technology from that period. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the population are techno barbarians.

Felwether
25-01-2011, 13:52
Er... The Imperium is 'Supa High-tech'. They have anti gravity technology, produce gigantic bipedal war machines, inter stellar spacecraft, laser weaponry, plasma weaponry and genetically enhanced super soldiers. I'd say that's pretty high-tech to be honest.

Memnos
25-01-2011, 13:54
Couple of points:



Oh, it's easy, then. :rolleyes: I mean, targeted, consistent, reliable genetic alteration is pretty much fantasy at the moment; certainly on the sort of scale needed for extreme longevity/immortality.


I didn't say it was easy. I said we're not far from making it possible. There are already ideas out there, from targeted viral re-engineering to nanotech.




The human mind is still almost a complete mystery. People don't like to admit it, but it's true.



Possible, but that sort of nanotechnology isn't anything more than fiction at present.


Yep. That's why I said that. ;)


I don't think that's what he means. Last I checked, a tree and a pile of boulders aren't magical "smart" materials. :)



Very true. It would probably be more akin to science fiction-y nanotechnology disassembling objects to their component materials. Claytronics are more a stepping stone to that sort of technology and it's only in its infancy. But it's getting better.


I'm certainly impressed by your blasť attitude. I don't think I agree with your assessment of the timescale, though.
From 1890 to 1990:

in 1890, men were mostly travelling by horse and carriage. Within a century, man went from horse and carriage to landing on the moon.

In 1890, in warfare, we went from primitive chemical explosions to rocket-guided nuclear weapons.

1890, boats would cross the Atlantic in weeks. Now Jets cross the earth in hours.

In 1890, the first virus had never even been discovered. In 1993, the first human embryos were cloned.

In 1890, letters would be sent that would take months to travel the globe. In 1990, the Internet became a popular way to communicate instantaneously with multiple people around the globe.

All of this in one century and our rate of knowledge is not decreasing. We haven't discovered everything. Our rate of knowledge is increasing. If you think my timeline of a century is too short, I would challenge you to consider the advances of the last century and to find any source that says our rate of advancement is slowing.

Lord Solar Plexus
25-01-2011, 14:33
Sorry Memnos, I can't resist (and don't take it too serious):

In 1890, men were mostly travelling by horse and carriage. Within a century, the number of people killed in traffic accidents has skyrocketed to the moon and back.

In 1890, in warfare, thousands might die in one battle. Now, we can achieve the same result with one bomb.

1890, boats would cross the Atlantic in weeks. Now Jets cross the earth in hours but you'll have to undress first and have all kinds of...interesting examinations of body parts I did not now I possessed to endure.

In 1890, the first virus had never even been discovered. Today, those jets help spread each and every newly discovered virus from here to China and back within hours.

In 1890, letters would be sent that would take months to travel the globe. In 1990, the Internet became a popular way to digitalize virus infections and spam other users' mailboxes with Viagra ads.

Let's all hope our rate of achievements slows down a bit. :)

Venkh
25-01-2011, 15:08
The other massive point to consider is that thinking machines are completely banned in the Imperium. This means that all calculation and computation has to be achieved mechanically or through the use of servitors.

I cant imagine how any of our modern hi-tech could operate without modern computers.

Also it is quite possible to maintain technology without being able to replicate it. STC is used in conjunction with ritual to build and maintain new machines. Without these even the mechanicum would find it impossible to keep things running.

Imagine losing all of the infrastructure and knowlege required to build computers. All you are left with are a few user manuals and some machines with no hrd drives or programming. How long would it take to be able to recover that tech in an environment where free thinking is heresy and punishable by death. Possibly never.

Chem-Dog
25-01-2011, 15:17
Steam powered devices have been running since Heron of Alexandria in 100 AD.

Issue of efficiency.



Russel Sohl invented a solar cell in 1941.


Issue of efficiency.




Impossible by our current understanding.

A key point methinks. Virtually everything the Imperium uses falls into this category, metals and ceramics we haven't got that have properties we can only guess at.
Any technology we have today will be primitve and oafish by the Imperium's understanding. And even then that's only a fraction of what mankind had achieved at it's height. Truly the Imperium has forgotten more than we could ever know.



About that shapeshifting drugs, even in 40k universe it requires to undergo complicated and painfull physical operation to be able to completely change body structure (in case of imperial assasins) to sneak through very small ventilation tube or something like that. Drugs are functioning more like an activator of these changes

No, the training is to be able to control the changes, there was a story somewhere of an untrained individual getting dosed up with polymorphine, I think by a Calidus, it was very painful, and melty....
The operations are for implants to effect change into other body types although this has been slightly retconned by Nemesis.



In 1890, in warfare, we went from primitive chemical explosions to rocket-guided nuclear weapons.

Couldn't see this without quoting this:-

I don't know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

Malagate
25-01-2011, 15:33
In 1890, letters would be sent that would take months to travel the globe. In 1990, the Internet became a popular way to digitalize virus infections and spam other users' mailboxes with Viagra ads.

In the 1980's, the only way for a boy to get their hands on "gentleman's literature" was to search for yellowing magazines around railway sidings, in 2010 a lad has access to oceans of "irregular materials" at any time in any place through a device that can fit in one hand. :D
Kids these days don't know how good they've got it...

I wasn't aware people thought the Imperium wasn't super high tech, I just thought it wasn't super high tech when compared to that of some of their enemies. Pretty much everything they have blows our modern stuff out of the water, even if some stuff might look archaic it's still packing effective lasers and microwave guns.

Godzooky
25-01-2011, 15:41
I wasn't aware people thought the Imperium wasn't super high tech, I just thought it wasn't super high tech when compared to that of some of their enemies. Pretty much everything they have blows our modern stuff out of the water, even if some stuff might look archaic it's still packing effective lasers and microwave guns.

Ah, but can Marneus Calgar access grumble vids whenever he wants? Swings and roundabouts. :D

Malagate
25-01-2011, 15:44
Ah, but can Marneus Calgar access grumble vids whenever he wants? Swings and roundabouts. :D

Pretty sure the gauntlets of ultramar have an app for that, look closely at the left thumb. ;)

Godzooky
25-01-2011, 15:44
Pretty sure the gauntlets of ultramar have an app for that, look closely at the left thumb. ;)

Rather you than me, buddy. Talk about a sledgehammer to crack a nut. :D

Chem-Dog
25-01-2011, 15:47
In the 1980's, the only way for a boy to get their hands on "gentleman's literature" was to search for yellowing magazines around railway sidings, in 2010 a lad has access to oceans of "irregular materials" at any time in any place through a device that can fit in one hand. :D
Kids these days don't know how good they've got it...

IDK, I think I would have turned out very differently if I'd seen the infamous video featuring a duo of females and a single drink recepticle at the tender age of 12....:shifty:

bert n ernie
25-01-2011, 15:57
I have to agree that we are still in the technological innovation explosion that began.. I don't know how long ago exactly.

I don't know if these specific innovations are likely to come about immediately or not, but I do know that there are some we use regularly that are said to be uptapped of their full potential.
I better not take this off-topic though.
I think that by and large the story of 40k and the Imperium tech makes a lot of sense, and gives it a very interesting universe to follow. The problem is that that universe tends to be ignored now and again to the detriment of the cohesiveness of it's whole.

EDIT: If people didn't use technology that could be used for evil means we'd not even have laces on our boots. Why even mention that?

Winterfell
25-01-2011, 20:47
The 41st millenium doesn't have Chuck Norris jokes so I would say we are more advanced than them currently!

:shifty:

Wolf Lord Balrog
25-01-2011, 21:26
The 41st millenium doesn't have Chuck Norris jokes so I would say we are more advanced than them currently!

:shifty:

They do, but in the 41st Millennium Chuck goes by a different name: God Emperor of Mankind. :)

jacktheinedible
25-01-2011, 22:18
Just throwing this idea out there

Perhaps one of the reasons the imperium is so hesitant to develop new technology is the "cost" or retooling production lines, changing training techniques for crews/workers, and throwing a big wrench in their logistical systems. There is also the notion that imperial tech in its present form (most notably imperial guard tech) is used because it is incredibly reliable, logistically simple, and easy to manufacture. To use a real world example we can look at Russian/US vs German tank designs, were the quantity of the allies tanks won out over quality of the german ones. It becomes even more interesting to consider the rate that modern military vehicles are produced compared to their WW2 equivalents and take a look at the imperium from that perspective.

Of course, this is based on the idea that there is some degree of rationality in the imperial war-machine, and not just crazy technological stagnation and blindly praying to get a gun to work better.

Also, lasgun=technological miracle. A cell the size of a 20 round magazine recharging through solar power in a reasonable amount of time (a few days probably) and firing "las rounds" capable of blasting off limbs is quite impressive.

Chem-Dog
25-01-2011, 23:26
To use a real world example we can look at Russian/US vs German tank designs, were the quantity of the allies tanks won out over quality of the german ones.


OR another soviet example that ties in directly with lasguns, the AK-47, over sixty years old and still going strong as a sturdy, easy to use and maintain weapon.

Imagine the Lasgun as a Kalash and I don't think you're going far wrong.

Shnerg
26-01-2011, 00:16
To be fair, we've came a long way in 100 years. In 1911, there was barely reliable aircraft, and now there are plans for a base to be built on the moon, an idea on how to get Mars ready for human habitation and a plan to send people there.

____________________

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/6208456.stm

Mars Habitation Plan
In a nutshell, they want to send plants there to start photosynthesising the CO≤, and leave them to create an ecosystem. It sounds far fetched, but when you read about it, in depth, it makes a lot of sense.

Iracundus
26-01-2011, 01:01
Modern society's maintenance of technology and development of technology rests on having

1) An educated population, in order to produce enough technically skilled people for both maintenance and new R&D
2) Free flow of accurate information in order for academics and researchers to communicate and discuss research ideas and new findings
3) An industrial infrastructure and value system that allows for implementation of new ideas

All of these are missing within the Imperium as a whole. Ignorance is prized as a virtue so the population in general is uneducated, with all high technology knowledge resting with the Adeptus Mechanicus (or liable to be seized by them if discovered). Free information flow is non-existent between the myriad institutions of the Imperium, and even within the Adeptus Mechanicus the tendency appears to be for Tech Priests to hoard their information instead of disseminating it. This not only hinders the development of new technology but also increases risk of loss of knowledge if the hoarders die without passing on their knowledge. Finally the means of production and infrastructure rests in the control of either the Adeptus Mechanicus or in the hands of oligarchical trade guilds or nobles working under license from the Adeptus Mechanicus. This stifles the attempts of any individual entrepeneurs or free thinkers to implement anything as these groups have a vested interest in preserving the status quo. Stability is valued in the Imperium over change.

These effects could be even more hindering when it comes to high technology due to the numerous pre-requisitie technologies that have to be mastered. If people forgot the wheel, that would likely be re-invented easily. If people forgot the internal combustion engine, that might take a bit longer due to the necessary knowledge of machine manufacturing precision parts and the metallurgical knowledge needed to produce metal parts for example. If people forgot how to make a plasma reactor, then that would take far longer as such technology has so many more underlying pre-requisites in both actual knowledge and necessary manufacturing infrastructure. Such high technology is not likely at all to be rediscovered via individual tinkering or the occasional lone free thinker by himself in the middle of nowhere.

gloriousbattle
26-01-2011, 01:06
Remember that a lot of tech is just a function of need.

Today, we have tanks and wheeled vehicles with internal combustion engines, rotary wing fliers, and fixed wing jets... and yet we still use units of horse cavalry in Afghanistan.

Why? Because there are certain situations in which a horse is just plain more advantageous than any of the really cool devices listed above. It can walk up slopes and along mountain trails that no jeep ever could, and doesn't gobble fuel like a plane. To an extent, a horse can be fueled off the land (though not as much as people think, eventually it does need grain). It can also deliver infantry with a "stealth" that no noisy modern aircraft can match.

Similarly, every modern soldier, in addition to his high tech armament, carries an entrenching tool, and, if he's smart, a knife. Why? 'Cuz there are some tasks that these ancient technologies just do more inexpensively and efficiently than any modern equivalent.

Add to that the fact that, as so many have said, the Imperial view of technology is ignorant and backward, and I think you have your answer.

gloriousbattle
26-01-2011, 01:12
But what is more interesting to me, is that Imperial society is actually an advance over the modern world.

Remember why things are the way they are in the Imperium is because modern research oriented technology, modern free thinking philosophy and modern democratic social structures could not deal with what humanity had to face. Instead, mankind collapsed in the face of it, and the Imperium arose from the ruins as at least a somewhat stabilizing force amidst the Chaos.

All of humanity's technological and sociological brilliance crumbled in the face of its own evolution into psychic beings. These "advances" were, in fact, the wrong path. Something much more like the ignorant and brutal structures of the middle ages were what allowed humanity to survive.

As someone else posted, technological advancement in the Imperium requires free thinkers, and free thinkers get possessed by warp entities.

I think its an interesting idea, far more than it is usually credited for.

zam2
26-01-2011, 02:10
Just throwing this idea out there

Perhaps one of the reasons the imperium is so hesitant to develop new technology is the "cost" or retooling production lines, changing training techniques for crews/workers, and throwing a big wrench in their logistical systems. There is also the notion that imperial tech in its present form (most notably imperial guard tech) is used because it is incredibly reliable, logistically simple, and easy to manufacture. To use a real world example we can look at Russian/US vs German tank designs, were the quantity of the allies tanks won out over quality of the german ones. It becomes even more interesting to consider the rate that modern military vehicles are produced compared to their WW2 equivalents and take a look at the imperium from that perspective.

Of course, this is based on the idea that there is some degree of rationality in the imperial war-machine, and not just crazy technological stagnation and blindly praying to get a gun to work better.

Also, lasgun=technological miracle. A cell the size of a 20 round magazine recharging through solar power in a reasonable amount of time (a few days probably) and firing "las rounds" capable of blasting off limbs is quite impressive.

And of course, this is the sci-fi setting where you can potentially summon a daemon because you're just too good to use the STC approved processor for your cogitator and decide to "innovate" and build your own.

Limbic Librarian
26-01-2011, 02:22
Today, we have tanks and wheeled vehicles with internal combustion engines, rotary wing fliers, and fixed wing jets... and yet we still use units of horse cavalry in Afghanistan.

Why? Because there are certain situations in which a horse is just plain more advantageous than any of the really cool devices listed above. It can walk up slopes and along mountain trails that no jeep ever could, and doesn't gobble fuel like a plane. To an extent, a horse can be fueled off the land (though not as much as people think, eventually it does need grain). It can also deliver infantry with a "stealth" that no noisy modern aircraft can match.

Similarly, every modern soldier, in addition to his high tech armament, carries an entrenching tool, and, if he's smart, a knife. Why? 'Cuz there are some tasks that these ancient technologies just do more inexpensively and efficiently than any modern equivalent.

Add to that the fact that, as so many have said, the Imperial view of technology is ignorant and backward, and I think you have your answer.

Horses aren't used in any major fashion by any modern armies and for the most part haven't since World War 2. Vehicles like the humvee can climb pretty steep angels, and in addition can provide armor against incoming fire that horses can't. Special operations also don't use horses but their own unique helicopters, which are pretty damn quite unless you're right near them.


But what is more interesting to me, is that Imperial society is actually an advance over the modern world.

I don't think so.

gloriousbattle
26-01-2011, 02:32
Horses aren't used in any major fashion by any modern armies and for the most part haven't since World War 2. Vehicles like the humvee can climb pretty steep angels, and in addition can provide armor against incoming fire that horses can't. Special operations also don't use horses but their own unique helicopters, which are pretty damn quite unless you're right near them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavalry

That's just one of many articles, dude.

Limbic Librarian
26-01-2011, 02:42
I know what calvary is. I think its you that needs to read the article.

Calvary isn't used in modern warefare anymore for a reason. It's obsolete. Most usage is very rare, very obscure, or very novel. To quote from the article

'Cavalry or mounted gendarmerie units continue to be maintained for purely or primarily ceremonial purposes by the United States, British, French, Italian, Danish, Swedish, Dutch, Chilean, Portuguese, Moroccan, Nigerian, Venezuelan, Brazilian, Peruvian, Paraguayan, Polish, Argentine, Senegalese, Jordanian, Pakistani, Indian, Spanish and Bulgarian armed forces. The Army of the Russian Federation has recently reintroduced a ceremonial mounted squadron wearing historic uniforms.'

Its infesible to have horses nowadays. Not just for the cost of having a good horse, but the support staff of vetrenarians and storing/transport/food etc... all for no particular advantage.

While they're used by police forces or border patrols for historical or shock value; or maybe see very small usage when patroling a very select region by a nations military, a modern military does not make extensive usage of such beasts anymore.

gloriousbattle
26-01-2011, 03:20
I know what calvary is. I think its you that needs to read the article.

Calvary isn't used in modern warefare anymore for a reason. It's obsolete. Most usage is very rare, very obscure, or very novel. To quote from the article

'Cavalry or mounted gendarmerie units continue to be maintained for purely or primarily ceremonial purposes by the United States, British, French, Italian, Danish, Swedish, Dutch, Chilean, Portuguese, Moroccan, Nigerian, Venezuelan, Brazilian, Peruvian, Paraguayan, Polish, Argentine, Senegalese, Jordanian, Pakistani, Indian, Spanish and Bulgarian armed forces. The Army of the Russian Federation has recently reintroduced a ceremonial mounted squadron wearing historic uniforms.'

Its infesible to have horses nowadays. Not just for the cost of having a good horse, but the support staff of vetrenarians and storing/transport/food etc... all for no particular advantage.

While they're used by police forces or border patrols for historical or shock value; or maybe see very small usage when patroling a very select region by a nations military, a modern military does not make extensive usage of such beasts anymore.

Evidently, dude, you don't know what "Calvary" is. "Calvary" is the place where Jesus was crucified. "Cavalry" on the other hand, is mounted soldiery.

And read the section in the article on the war in Afghanistan. BTW, I never said we were making mass charges, but why do you think they are being used in Afghanistan? Because somebody wanted to prove a point? Or because maybe they were useful in that role?

Peace and love to ya.

Shipmonkey
26-01-2011, 03:36
Limbic, gloriousbattles use of the term "horse cavalry" might not have been exactly correct, but the use of horses and other pack animals is on the rise in modern militaries despite how anachronistic it might be. The US Marine Corp have a pack animal handling school in CA and the US Army has issued a how-to manual for pack animals. Canada is outfitting donkies for use in Afghanistan. And, seemingly strangest of all, the IDF has been using llamas on patrols. They are using these animals, in large part, due to the fact Humvees and other motor vehicles are proving nearly useless in the rugged terrian up there.

And I'm not sure what you're talking about concerning the Special Forces "unique" helicopters, they use minor variants of the normal Army birds. And helicopters are rarely ever as silent as pack animals nor can they get people into and out off the terrian that a pack animal can. I've heard, from helo mechanics who have been deployed there, that most of the current helos have a very difficult time operating in Afghanistans climate and altitude, making the tricker to use then at lower elavations.

And what does all this have to do with the Imperium? Simple, just because they have the super tech doesn't mean it's always the best answer to a given situation.

bert n ernie
26-01-2011, 08:46
@gloriousbattle Please don't double post. Edit the previous one.

It seems to me that cavalry is used for things like patrols and transport in particular situations. This isn't to say that it is in use directly for warfare, but for use in a warlike environment.

Also I believe someone earlier said that the Imperium did not allow thinking/calculating machines. How is the 'machine spirit', or as I like to call it 'guidance system' of the Land Raider explained in that case?
Another case of inconsistent background?

AndrewGPaul
26-01-2011, 09:17
Couple of points:

Four, actually.




I didn't say it was easy. I said we're not far from making it possible. There are already ideas out there, from targeted viral re-engineering to nanotech.

"do it with nanotech" is not a useful suggestion. :) Bear in mind you 'd need to do this for every cell in the body. Current gene therapies simply lob some modified gene strands at cells and hope some stick (which is basically what the viral therapies do). That's not going to be good enough.


Yep. That's why I said that. ;) Well, you were talking about nanotech. It depends on what you mean by "nanotech". I don't think anyone seriously believes Drexler-esque "grey goo" is ever feasible.




Very true. It would probably be more akin to science fiction-y nanotechnology disassembling objects to their component materials. Claytronics are more a stepping stone to that sort of technology and it's only in its infancy. But it's getting better.

No, that's still nothing like how STC systems are described to operate. They're advanced expert systems that can generate blueprints on the fly, adapting to available local materials, not replicators.



From 1890 to 1990:

in 1890, men were mostly travelling by horse and carriage. Within a century, man went from horse and carriage to landing on the moon.

In 1890, in warfare, we went from primitive chemical explosions to rocket-guided nuclear weapons.

1890, boats would cross the Atlantic in weeks. Now Jets cross the earth in hours.

In 1890, the first virus had never even been discovered. In 1993, the first human embryos were cloned.

In 1890, letters would be sent that would take months to travel the globe. In 1990, the Internet became a popular way to communicate instantaneously with multiple people around the globe.

All of this in one century and our rate of knowledge is not decreasing. We haven't discovered everything. Our rate of knowledge is increasing. If you think my timeline of a century is too short, I would challenge you to consider the advances of the last century and to find any source that says our rate of advancement is slowing.

I never claimed that. My issue is that these advances aren't as trivial as you make them out. Even your first example, of sustainable nuclear fusion, shows that. You're throwing out possible SF concepts that, as far as I know, no-one even has the faintest idea how to do, and saying "well, not long now".

On another topic, when talking about the Imperium's technology level, everyone forgets the simple things - the Imperium has some rather staggering materials science. Consider a 'typical' hive; ten miles across, ten miles high, able to support its own weight, even against storm-force winds, and with a heat-exchange system reaching into the planet's mantle. Then consider the sort of lighting, power, water and air-conditioning systems, as well as the logistics of keeping tens of billions of humans alive inside.

Or consider that the Imperium has vehicles ten thousand years old, often in continuous use. I don't know how often they have to replace engines, transmissions, electronics, etc, but at the very least, the body armour panels are original - that means these metal plates have lasted longer than recorded human history without suffering appreciable corrosion, metal fatigue or creep. That's some serious metallurgy right there.

Then there's their man-machine interface; Space Marine armour is described as not impeding the movement or agility of the wearer - he moves as if he were unencumbered. If so, that's a step above the Galactic Empire - Darth Vader was a pathetic shambling joke compared to is physical ability as Anakin Skywalker. Or consider the Mind Impulse Units used to control titans and dreadnoughts - an almost seamless integration of the human brain and the control computers of a vehicle.

Dux
26-01-2011, 09:40
Afaik the Imperium banned all soulless thinking machines, because something like in IRobot and Matrix happend (machines building machines to destroy mankind). I believe there was something like that in one of the Gaunts Ghosts books.
The machine spirit of the Land Raider is an AI, thats able to learn and create a personality. Every machine they use is said to hold a machine spirit (AI) even if it does the same thing over and over again (like robots in industry).
If it weren't like that, how do they produce their tanks when they aren't allowed to use robots that help them put the heavy pieces together?
The Mechanicus doesn't understand how an AI works so they think it is a spirit.
That's how I believe it to be.

Whats so good at laser weapons? They just shoot with light. Get a big mirror and have fun ;D

AndrewGPaul
26-01-2011, 09:53
I've asked this before, and apologies if I've simply forgotten, but where does this stuff about robots, AIs and machine spirits come from?

"Every machine they use is said to hold a machine spirit (AI) even if it does the same thing over and over again (like robots in industry). "

As I understand the background, most of the time "machine spirit" is just a religious term for the part of the Machine God that inhabits every machine (down to and including electric drills and possibly screwdrivers). It can mean actual AIs*, but it's far from the only meaning of the phrase.

Even the stuff about the Iron Men, Stone Men and Gold Men is, IIRC, restricted to one or two pieces from the 3rd edition rulebook, and it's presented as vaguely remembered myth. I think most people read too much into it, frankly.

*which doesn't necessarily mean a learning computer. It's probably more like a much more sophiticated form of the AI that controls the behavious of the baddies in a video game.

Godzooky
26-01-2011, 09:57
I've asked this before, and apologies if I've simply forgotten, but where does this stuff about robots, AIs and machine spirits come from?

In one the HH Visions series of artbooks there was a short story by Graham McNeill about an awakening AI machine. It was called The Kaban Project.

The Highlander
26-01-2011, 12:44
In the 5th centaury Bath (like many other English cities) contained a number of large stone houses that contained central heating and internal toilets, it was linked to the rest of the country by all weather roads and was defended by a disciplined and professional army uniformly equipped with standardised weapons and armour. Within a hundred years all of this had disappeared and would not exist again for hundreds of years (in some cases not until the 19th centaury).

The situation with the Imperium is very similar. Human technology advanced to an extremely high level before a huge upheaval led to the loss of most of the knowledge. Now all that they are left with are relics from the past (which they can not reproduce and struggle to maintain) and plans to construct the simpler items which they can follow but struggle to understand.

Malice313
26-01-2011, 13:53
What I'm trying to get at is the relative unimportance of _people_ in the Imperium's concerns

Indeed. I agree with you whole heartedly, which is why this little (and it is just a glimpse) statistical analysis is a good representation as it look at the cost of weapon systems in terms of infrastructure an food stuffs-> the basis of the tithe system.


From 1890 to 1990:

in 1890, men were...

I get your point and it is a good one. However the statistics in 1954 is well and truly in the supersonic and nuclear age (including strategic delivery systems such as ICBM's) and only 3 years before the the launch of the Sputnik satellite that sparked the space race.

Most contemporary weapons system are in fact over a quarter of a century (or more) old with a few tweaks, and those tweaks come at a massive cost in terms of infrastructure... which you need at a high level to produce such finely honed, extravagant technological nightmares.

When you start looking at the economic costs of having a MERV delivery system more accurate by a couple of hundred metres at several times the cost...

Most of the worlds air superiority fighters were first produced 30-40 years ago! B52's are still in service and have been since 1955 and are not timetabled to be decommissioned until 2040.


Interesting though, is the decrease cost of a destroyer. Perhaps computer managed systems have replaced the need for expensive labour intensive operations?

Or maybe the role of navy has been far more clearly refined and the need for things like multiple AA batteries in addition to its main role have been relegated to things like naval air support?


A new book has also come out called The Gun by C.J. Chivers.

http://www.5min.com/Video/CJ-Chivers-Talks-About-the-Gun-500660443

It basically looks at how something as simple as a good, cheap, reliable small arm that has good stopping power, is easier to put together than a child toy and you can bash tent pegs in with it without effecting its performance in any way (*thinks* Lasgun!) is far more effective weapon, that enabled even the poorest people on earth to wages wars of horrific carnage in vastly extended conflicts, than almost any other weapon in the 20th century.

*Edit: Removed link to book at Amazon, as I'm not sure if that sort of thing is against forum rules, but its easy enough to find with what I've supplied info wise anyway.*

gloriousbattle
26-01-2011, 15:01
This isn't to say that it is in use directly for warfare, but for use in a warlike environment.

Uh, I don't think that statement means anything.

Malice313
26-01-2011, 15:14
It seems to me that cavalry is used for things like patrols and transport in particular situations.

I thought cavalry is useful because horses run on grass, don't need roads, carry a horse making factory around with them were ever they go and if your in a real bind you can eat them.

Bunnahabhain
26-01-2011, 16:13
From 1890 to 1990:
in 1890, men were mostly travelling by horse and carriage. Within a century, man went from horse and carriage to landing on the moon.

Depends where you are. A fairly significant number were travelling by trains almost as fast as our current ones...

In 1890, in warfare, we went from primitive chemical explosions to rocket-guided nuclear weapons. Or steam driven battleships firing shells of 12-14" up to 11km. Not all that primative

1890, boats would cross the Atlantic in weeks. Now Jets cross the earth in hours. Passenger liners of the 1890 could cross it in 6 days (Liverpool- New York); the same flight is currently about 8hrs

In 1890, the first virus had never even been discovered. In 1993, the first human embryos were cloned. This one, you're right. First virus isolated and discovered 1898.

In 1890, letters would be sent that would take months to travel the globe. In 1990, the Internet became a popular way to communicate instantaneously with multiple people around the globe. An 1890 telegraph would do 8 words a minute or so across the Atlantic. You could get a long letter to the far side of the world in hours.

The facts are impressive enough, there is no need to bias them. The reduction in cost and complication of anything other than cutting edge technology is as impressive as the actual advances.

Nezalhualixtlan
26-01-2011, 17:19
The Imperium actually enjoys an extremely high level of technology relative to today's standards. What they don't enjoy is an extremely high level of technology relative to expected 38,000 years of solid progress given our current rate of expansion - that coupled with their attitude towards scientific discovery and innovation - is what I think drives the perception that the Imperium is backwards in terms of technology.

When you look at how far we've come in the last 100, or 200 years as a species, the rate of technological expansion is really amazing when you compare it to say the rest of human history (recorded and pre-history). This isn't to say that there were no amazing feats of intelligence, logic, and understanding that happened in ancient times, I think a lot of people underestimate some of the architectural marvels that some of the ancient people's managed to accomplish. From the Pyramids, to the Parthenon, to the Pantheon, to the Antikythera mechanism and much of the world over, ancient people actually demonstrated a high level of sophistication in terms of mathematics & engineering, something that given those levels you might expect us today to be way farther ahead in terms of technology than we are. Except the upheaval associated with lasting war, famine, economic instability, and religious persecution of new ideas put a damper on what might otherwise have been centuries of progress.

The Imperium is little different. In the stories, Mankind clearly went through a phase of technological expansion that was utterly amazing to say the least. That was the "Dark Age of Technology" and really the golden age of scientific achievement for the species. Then the upheaval of the warp storms surrounding the coming of Slaanesh coupled with the emerging psychic mutations in humans themselves allowing Chaos access to human worlds cut planets and systems off from one another, the isolation lead to stagnation & economic disaster, which in turn lead to war, famine, strife, and in many cases obliteration of the human endeavor.

20,000 some years of progress were wiped out, and mankind was relegated in much of the galaxy to primitive status relatively speaking.

The Emperor changed all that. He started the project to re-unite humanity under his banner of science and reason, and instigated the Great Crusade. Only, the seeds of resistance to change were already there. His brand of humanity was already ego-centric, alien technology was not encountered with the intent to "figure it out" so humanity could use it as might have been the case with something like the Interex, it was only sought to be annihilated. Discoveries of previous human technologies by the AdMech were treated like archeology rather than engineering, as though it was precious religious relics to be venerated rather than truly understood. On top of that, even though a premium was placed on science and reason in the Imperial Truth, people were not free. The emerging Imperium was... well Imperial, conquering, and often destructive in its expansion and methods of securing fealty. Human technologies were wiped out in the process that had come from divergent paths of human development in isolation. Those under the Imperial banner were expected to obey, and dissent was little tolerated. Freedom to innovate was limited, and there was understandably little confidence that you could profit from your efforts to innovate further hindering incentive to progress technologically.

Then even the beginning benefits of the Great Crusade came to a screeching halt with the Horus Heresy while the galaxy was plunged into civil war. After that, innovation was not just frowned on, but in some cases outright fought with murderous intent as heresy. Science and reason were dropped in favor of religious veneration of the Emperor, and a brutal regime took hold that persecuted difference, and aimed to conserve the gains of the Great Crusade at the cost of moving beyond it to even higher standards of technology. Any development had to be sanctioned by religious decree by those who may have no understanding of the way in which something functions or ability to foresee its future uses and benefits.

So...

It's understandable that mankind is not 38,000 years ahead of where we are now. Traumatic things happened to crush that rate of development. And they seem backwards because compared to the pinnacle of human development and technological progress that happened far in the distant future but their distant past, they are. Not only are they behind were they could be in progress, but it's their attitude that betrays them as they are opposed to technological advancement on a cultural and religious basis.

It's not that some of the things they have and enjoy are so sufficiently advanced from what we have today as to look like magic, it's that they are backwards from the high point of humanity with no inclination to go further.

Malice313
26-01-2011, 17:23
The facts are impressive enough, there is no need to bias them. The reduction in cost and complication of anything other than cutting edge technology is as impressive as the actual advances.

I'd be interested to see the cost of the development of telegraphs and laying sea cables for telegraphs (altered for inflation) compared to laying millions of kilometres of fibres optic cords and the entire cost of the space programs (altered for inflation) for the launching of communication satellites for commercial use to see how much of a reduction in costs had been made with modern communications.

Reduction in travel costs would be interesting to. Does a horse (which eats grass and carries around its own horse factory where ever it goes) cost less to build and maintain than the economic cost of mining, smelting, machining and refining ore, fuel and replacement parts for a car?

Is aviation (perhaps the worst energy efficient mode of transport yet known) cheaper than shipping?

The question is not one of bigger, faster, higher, stronger but one of "how fast can we produce this without going beyond our (tenuous and unpredictable) means".

Lightning fast, invulnerable tanks with mega weapons that can kill you in your dreams are pretty cool... as long as they have enough fuel and ammunition to last forever. If not there will come a point that they are just a big empty heap of potential.

The problem that is usually associated with high tech stuff is it needs to be produced ever more complex fabrication techniques, demands increasingly more potent energy sources all of which is made by ever increasingly more skilled labour.

That's why a weapon that can be produced in untold millions by semi skill labour with readily available materials and basic tools, that is so simple it can be (and often sadly is) used by children, like the AK47, is a far more deadly weapon than a couple of billion dollars worth of heavy bomber.

Bunnahabhain
26-01-2011, 17:51
I'd be interested to see the cost of the development of telegraphs and laying sea cables for telegraphs (altered for inflation) compared to laying millions of kilometres of fibres optic cords and the entire cost of the space programs (altered for inflation) for the launching of communication satellites for commercial use to see how much of a reduction in costs had been made with modern communications.

Reduction in travel costs would be interesting to. Does a horse (which eats grass and carries around its own horse factory where ever it goes) cost less to build and maintain than the economic cost of mining, smelting, machining and refining ore, fuel and replacement parts for a car?


So would I, although to get reasonably accurate numbers, there is probably a dissertation in it, as trying to get the figures, then correcting them for inflation( Which inflation? Wages, Consumer prices, GDP?) and correcting for other factors- (ie in 1890, Britian was at the heart of a vast empire, and had hugely significant manufacturing and mining industries, as opposed to now) will be far from easy. In rough terms, the proportion of the workforce working in transportation has certainly fallen over time, despite the fact the world is moving more stuff per person about.

Is aviation (perhaps the worst energy efficient mode of transport yet known) cheaper than shipping?

Assuming a fair comparison, NO!
Ships are by far the cheapest way to move a large weight or volume of materiel, unless it can be fitted down a pipeline. If you try a silly test, such as what is the cheapest way to carry one banana 100 miles, and compare a light aircraft to a supertanker, you'll get a silly answer....



The question is not one of bigger, faster, higher, stronger but one of "how fast can we produce this without going beyond our (tenuous and unpredictable) means".

Lightning fast, invulnerable tanks with mega weapons that can kill you in your dreams are pretty cool... as long as they have enough fuel and ammunition to last forever. If not there will come a point that they are just a big empty heap of potential.

The problem that is usually associated with high tech stuff is it needs to be produced ever more complex fabrication techniques, demands increasingly more potent energy sources all of which is made by ever increasingly more skilled labour.

That's why a weapon that can be produced in untold millions by semi skill labour with readily available materials and basic tools, that is so simple it can be (and often sadly is) used by children, like the AK47, is a far more deadly weapon than a couple of billion dollars worth of heavy bomber.
Agreed

Nezalhualixtlan
26-01-2011, 18:05
Assuming a fair comparison, NO!
Ships are by far the cheapest way to move a large weight or volume of materiel, unless it can be fitted down a pipeline. If you try a silly test, such as what is the cheapest way to carry one banana 100 miles, and compare a light aircraft to a supertanker, you'll get a silly answer....

Cheapest per fuel unit also doesn't run a complete comparison, speed is a factor. Certain items are perishable and not easily preserved, and speed of transport times are important. Hell, speed of transport times are important in a competitive market anyway. Fuel sources are an issue, but only part of the equation, if certain fuels become more scarce, cost of transportation will shoot up as demand and supply diverge, and alternative fuels or modes of transportation may become the more efficient path. But things will go with what the market will bear, assuming an efficiently functioning market.

Malice313
28-01-2011, 01:01
Cheapest per fuel unit also doesn't run a complete comparison, speed is a factor. Certain items are perishable and not easily preserved, and speed of transport times are important. Hell, speed of transport times are important in a competitive market anyway. Fuel sources are an issue, but only part of the equation, if certain fuels become more scarce, cost of transportation will shoot up as demand and supply diverge, and alternative fuels or modes of transportation may become the more efficient path. But things will go with what the market will bear, assuming an efficiently functioning market.

I've found recently that nukes are a perishable item!?!