How many years?
1-500
80% (20)
80% (20)
500-1000
4% (1)
4% (1)
1000+
8% (2)
8% (2)
Never
8% (2)
8% (2)
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Poll: How long would it take to forget our modern progress?

If the majority of technology and historical records were destroyed, how long would it take mankind to forget it all? Assuming of course that those who understood it were unable to rebuild it or had been killed.

It would be difficult to explain to the next generation using only words and some drawings from memory. I imagine it would seem like stories people had made up.

Ex: Televisions, lights, computers, cars, how to make plastic etc.

Perhaps after a massive war or drastic change to the environment where less than a million people were left alive.

Eh, we built it up via the scientific method mainly through the last 300 years, we would bounce back. Forgetting isn't an option.

I'd actually say a fair bit could be easily lost at this point.

Do you know how to make a computer? I don't. Not from scratch. I could put one together given a motherboard, case, hard drive, etc.. but I don't know how to construct those things. I couldn't make a hard drive, even if you gave me all the component parts. Considering how much of today's technology uses highly advantaged other technologies to create them, we'd basically be screwed if that knowledge was lost to us for some reason.

And it'd be easier than you realise, if we're assuming some kind of global super event.

Isolate just about any community and add in major infrastructure problems, power cuts, difficulty getting water and food, etc... and we'd pretty much be in Fallout land. Technology would exit, and be able to be maintained somewhat, but much of our advanced stuff would be impossible to replace.

Now consider that, increasingly, stuff is only recorded on digital format. There's no way to translate that stuff if you don't have a device capable of reading that format. You can't access a file on the internet, if you have no power. You can't access a DVD, without a DVD player.

I'd imagine fairly quickly. If you destroyed all records and the only things left were lore, it'd be forgotten quickly. Just like after the Romans fell and we had to re-invent concrete.

Depends - if you're talking about a world-wide catastrophe that wipes out all technology and reduces humanity to a "Hunter-gatherer" lifestyle, then the knowledge would be lost very, very quickly - even if we write it down, it's unlikely that we would be able to educate enough people to maintain the level of knowledge that will enable society to rebuilt. Remember, in a world wide catastrophe, we won't be able to start rebuilding straight away - we'll need to form stable societies first, and that will take decades to accomplish. During the stabilizing process, a lot of knowledge can be lost.

What might not be lost, however, is knowledge of science and the scientific method. Even non-scientists know the importance of science and realize the technology they had was created by scientists and engineers. They'll know enough to realize the core principles of testing, exploration and organization.

I'd say we'd be knocked back to ancient Rome/ancient Greek levels of civilization, but we'd quickly catch up within a few hundred years to where we are now.

Craorach:
I'd actually say a fair bit could be easily lost at this point.

Do you know how to make a computer? I don't. Not from scratch. I could put one together given a motherboard, case, hard drive, etc.. but I don't know how to construct those things. I couldn't make a hard drive, even if you gave me all the component parts. Considering how much of today's technology uses highly advantaged other technologies to create them, we'd basically be screwed if that knowledge was lost to us for some reason.

And it'd be easier than you realise, if we're assuming some kind of global super event.

Isolate just about any community and add in major infrastructure problems, power cuts, difficulty getting water and food, etc... and we'd pretty much be in Fallout land. Technology would exit, and be able to be maintained somewhat, but much of our advanced stuff would be impossible to replace.

Now consider that, increasingly, stuff is only recorded on digital format. There's no way to translate that stuff if you don't have a device capable of reading that format. You can't access a file on the internet, if you have no power. You can't access a DVD, without a DVD player.

Good point. I actually do have a fair idea how to build a computer. But that's all theoretical knowledge, and the more research I've done into it, the more I realise how much specialised equipment would have to be built first.

And assuming I had all the raw materials to hand to make all this equipment, I'd guess if I had to start from scratch, maybe after a decade or two I'd have computers about on par with what we had in the early 80's...

So, yeah. Good luck with reading any digital data if we lose all the tech.

(Before you ask, I've looked into a lot of this on the hypothetical basis that I was a time traveller stuck in the past. What would I be able to build with old technology? And what would I need to do it?

- I came to the conclusion that I could easily re-create electricity, and basic related tech, such as an electric motor, but even creating a light-bulb would be quite a feat.

Still, if you can create resistors, capacitors, diodes and transistors. (not an easy task, to be honest. Transistors are made by carefully growing large silicon crystals and introducing a thin layer of impurities partway through the process.)
You can make a computer.

If you have access to magnets and copper, you can make electric motors and generators. (And copper is one of the earlies metals humans learnt to work with.)

Silicon is... sand, but while that sounds easy enough to get, it's not the material, but how you process it that's key, and that's far from simple...

"Wait a minute" say the hypothetical children of a distant tomorrow, "You mean to tell me that the entire world was once connected by an invisible web? A web that allowed anyone from anywhere to talk to and watch one another in real time without them being in the same place at the same time? Bullshit!"

Well if all the records were lost, and the technology too, we'd be in some kind of disaster where survival was the main concern. It would be gone in a single generation.

Most of our technology requires massive infrastructure and assembly lines to produce. It requires the specialized knowledge of dozens of people. You can't build a computer from scratch. You need to make and mould plastics, design circuits, build semiconductors and capacitors... I would actually be surprised if there was a single human being in the entire world who was actually familiar with every step of that process of design and manufacturing.

I am certain humanity would re-learn it all. But it would take a good while.

And then the history channel would make a special about how all of it was alien technology because obviously previous lost civilizations couldn't possibly be more advanced than us herp derp.

People still remember stories about a dude who supposedly performed miracles 2000 years ago, and stuff even earlier than that. People would probably never forget.

Craorach:
I'd actually say a fair bit could be easily lost at this point.

Do you know how to make a computer? I don't. Not from scratch. I could put one together given a motherboard, case, hard drive, etc.. but I don't know how to construct those things. I couldn't make a hard drive, even if you gave me all the component parts. Considering how much of today's technology uses highly advantaged other technologies to create them, we'd basically be screwed if that knowledge was lost to us for some reason.

And it'd be easier than you realise, if we're assuming some kind of global super event.

Isolate just about any community and add in major infrastructure problems, power cuts, difficulty getting water and food, etc... and we'd pretty much be in Fallout land. Technology would exit, and be able to be maintained somewhat, but much of our advanced stuff would be impossible to replace.

Now consider that, increasingly, stuff is only recorded on digital format. There's no way to translate that stuff if you don't have a device capable of reading that format. You can't access a file on the internet, if you have no power. You can't access a DVD, without a DVD player.

The left had doesn't know what the right hand does, indeed.
Your point is valid. Since we have become such an incredibly overspecialised society, it has crippled us. When society is stable, this works for our benefit, but just one tiny nuclear war, and we could be back at the stone-age.
You mention computers..But think even more basic. How many of us know how to hunt? How many of us know how to grow proper food? Put in the wilderness, most of the western world would starve to death.

Depending on the knowledge of the remaining people, it could easily occur in about 100-500 years. Just look at the fall of the Roman Empire. We'd rediscover it, of course, but not before descending into some dark age of religious fanaticism or something.

Considering one of my stories involves something like this. Highly advanced society takes a war to the entire planet, leaving it in ruins. The story takes place in the "New Industrial Age" (100's to 1000's of years later), because I love Steampunk. Lots of modern advances are gone, such as firearms, and everything is very... industrial.

Honestly if we were hit by something that just destroyed all current technology, I'm sure we'd be able to rebuild everything and people would be able to learn everything again, but it would take a while, obviously. We'd probably hit a dark age of sorts if it happened.

I suspect we would actually recover fairly quickly, humans are nothing if not innovative. what we couldn't build we would salvage, what we couldn't salvage we would recycle. think steam powered cars and water wheels for electricity. Even if the knowledge was lost I'm betting a few clever folks could put something together from the limited records and remains of our tech.

 

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