Follow TV Tropes
I took out this paragraph from the intro:
"Amazingly enough, this seems to be Truth in Television, as all human technological development has really only occurred in the last 100,000 years, 5% of the approximately 2 million year lifetime of our genus, accelerating with the advent of agriculture 10,000 - 12,000 years ago and accelerating again with the Renaissance and Industrial Revolution, and having been getting faster since. Aside from language, the world of AD 1500 would have been more or less understandable to someone from 500 BC, but someone from AD 1500 would have had a lot of problems in AD 1900 (radio, relatively advanced guns, trains and early cars, atheism, medical advances...), and someone from AD 1900 would have been completely lost in AD 2000. This accelerating trend is also what leads some to predict The Singularity."
Leaving aside how accurate those statements are, the rest of the intro, and all of the examples, talk about this trope being about human technological advancement relative to other intelligent species. In that case, this trope really can't apply to real life at all unless we come in contact with another intelligent species that advances at a different rate (which we obviously haven't). I suppose you could say that human technology advances faster than the "technology" of chimpanzees and other animal tool users, but that still doesn't seem very relevant to me.
Moving the whole RL section here. This is a sci-fi/fantasy trope, so Real Life examples don't really work. Moore's Law is too specific and debatable (as that way-too-long Thread Mode argument against it shows), and the technology levels between humans cultures is also outside the trope. The intro notes that this seems to be Truth in Television when it comes to civilization and technology, and that's really all that needs to be said.
Because while the topic is called 'Humans Advance Swiftly' it is actually 'Humans Advance More Swiftly Than Everyone Else'. It is a statement of the relative speed of growth, not the absolute speed of growth. Simply saying that "We've speed up recently! Aren't we clever!" mere makes the Singularity true, not this troop.
For this troop to be true, you don't just need rapid growth, you need a slower example to compare it to. Which has Unfortunate Implications and Family Unfriendly Asops. Think back to when you last encountered this troop. Did it ever cross your mind that the ones stuck in the middle ages were stupid, slow, less capable, lacked any gumption, needed humanity to bail them out, and overall either pretty much deserved whatever was comming to them because they were so bloody incapable? It did? Oh I'm sorry - have I mentioned Africa yet?
The troop exists, and it's often kinda fun - but if you're going to list it here, do it properly, and recognise exactly where it came from.
Here's the intro:
For every species bar one, Medieval Stasis is how the world works. Changes in technology and society take hundreds of years, and any existing alien civilizations or elf kingdoms today looks more or less the same as it did a century ago - or will in a century more. For most races in the setting slow change is the norm.
The great exception are humans. Somehow these talking plains apes, who have only learned to walk fully upright a few hundred thousand years ago, have mastered technology and civilization in a fraction of the time it took everyone else, despite their incredibly short individual lifespans. Or maybe it is that very brevity that drives humans, the sense that they don't have decades to spare and need to accomplish things now.
None of the real life stuff is relevant; it's about humans compared to other species, not humans compared with each other. There's no point in explaining how Europe is not an example of the trope when nobody said it was an example in the first place. It's a Justifying Edit to an example that's not even on the page.
The Babylon5 Example is still is not very nuanced. One of the themes that runs through that show is that humanity, after its near brush with extinction via the Minnbari, become obessed with aquireing advanceded alien tech. Actually, even thats not entirely true, Earth Alliance had the same fixation before the war, but after, it really kicks into high gear. However, Humans do not 'advance swiftly', so much as, 'catch up quickly' which is something completely different. IPX for example, exists specifically to locate advanced alien tech on dead worlds for EA to reverse-engineer. They also actively seek to purchase, steal w/e, advanced tech from there other races at every opportunity. The other races have allready done the heavy lifting so to speak, and all humanity needs to do is adapt it to there needs. Later on, Mimbar begins to share its advanced tech with EA, technology humanity was no where near capable of figuring out on its own.
Also, it must be kept in mind that Mimbar was allready the most advanced of the younger races, and had reached something of a technological plateau. This is entirely normal. At some point all races apparent rate of advancement will slow down, even the shadows and Vorlons were more or less stagnant in that regard, though at a higher level. The Mimbari had no pressing need to explore radical new technologies when the ones they had were highly refined and served them well. Thus to an outside observer, one might assume humans are advancing swiftly, when in fact, they are buying there way to something like equality in a real hurry. Left to its own devices, humans would probably still be useing coal power and chemical rockets in 2250 if not for there contact with the other races of Babylon 5.
I must agree with the above.
In Babylon 5, the Earth is not anywhere near the technological sophistication of other races. One person on a news report made the unverifiable claim that their recent progress could mean they are on equal footing with the Mimbari but this is reckless human pride thinking. Seriously, you are talking about a race that created a fleet of experimental partly bio ships (brushing on ancient tech) to kill shadow wraiths. Do you -seriously- believe humans could even 'touch' one such ship with their entire fleet? At any point in the franchise? Case in point, One Mimbari ship made the entire Earth Fleet turn away rather then dare engage it. (When president Clark enacted martial law on B5)
Earth ships still rotate to maintain gravity, they are bulky, and they only ever defeated _one_ Mimbari ship by trickery and deceit. The Mimbari are the highest sophisticated race of the series barring 'ancient ones', and they are the only ones to have ever cracked Bio-ships.
It is only by an alliance Earth is provided various upgrades to their ships.
The Centari never went anywhere near Mimbari space even if they were the most approachable and powerful nation, even as they expanded for centuries in space. Their tech is way higher then Earth, proven when a simple solution was provided to cure an illness.
Finally... it is said that at the end, after 1 million years, they were heading to the Vorlon homeworld. They still have a lot of work to do to get to the rim.
Inconvenient truth VS Flamebait
Would anyone care to comment?
"The only difference is that the last two gave it up for dumb cultural reasons" is bound to piss some people off.
Maybe you'd like to phrase it better?
I don't think there is any reason for giving up technological progress that doesn't count as that but if that is the only objection ... okay. Phrase changed to 'various reasons'.
The main problem I see is that it circles around its own points so much that it ends up not saying much of anything. It can be summarized as "Europeans might seem to develop faster, but that's just historical coincidence so ignore this entry". Since Europe and the rest of the world aren't mentioned anywhere else and the trope only concerns itself with humanity's relationship to other species, it's just not relevant.
Because this troop is not about people advancing quickly. This is about people advancing quickly (flight to the moon in 60 years) while another group of equally capable and intelligent people achieved absolutely nothing of any technical significance in a hundred thousand years. That is essentially the origin of this troop, however distateful that may be to modern political sensibilities, and the introduction does not make that clear.
What is your objection to stating this, and also pointing out at the same time that while it is largely factual, it is also is not an entirely accurate view of history?
My objection is just that it's not an example. The trope's defined by the intro, and the intro defines it as a sci-fi fantasy trope about human development as a whole as compared to the development of non-humans. A trope about one group of humans being more advanced than the rest is very different from what this one's describing; you could create that trope in YTTKW, though I'd guess we already have it listed somewhere.
Edit: Hm, I guessed wrong. There are elements of it in Utopia, Mary Suetopia and Hidden Elf Village, but nothing really matching it. It really might be a good idea to suggest it in YTTKW, maybe with a name like Genius Country. It'd be a subtrope of Utopia, with many of the same examples, and a mention of how Europe's technological development only seemed to fit into that would make more sense there.
I would also argue about hunanitys swift progress over 100 years. We went from pretty simple machines to robotics and automation and A.I, basic flight to space travel. We\'ve progressed rapidly over 100 years.
Community Showcase More
How well does it match the trope?