Is the technology of the galaxy far, far away stagnating? Max explores the technological diversity of the Star Wars galaxy
There is no denying that the Star Wars galaxy is an advanced place. They have robots who seem to have consciousness, ships that can move many times the speed of light, and lasers that can destroy entire planets. However, when you immerse yourself in a fictional world, a lot of things casual fans would never think of, often become very clear to you.
Over the last 5-10 years, I have been intrigued by the progress of technology in the Star Wars galaxy. Many angry Redditors have tried to insist that Star Wars is science fantasy and NOT sci-fi. Yet anybody who reads ALL the novels will see that this is untrue.
Technology seemed to advance across the three trilogies. And it was only the stuff now branded “Legends” that didn’t seem to progress in the millennia. Understanding tech in Star Wars is a very tricky subject as many variables affect how you approach this. With so many rules, it seems futile to bother. BUT this is my passion and until I truly lose interest, it will propel me through the rest of my life.
One of the most important things to know about tech and science in Star Wars is that different areas of technology are VASTLY disproportionate to each other. Their space and travel technology is so mature that there is little room to improve. Yet their biotech and computer science can often surprise you in the fact that sometimes, it isn’t much more advanced than ours. Why is this so? My conclusion after studying Star Wars for so long is that the galaxy is full of beings who don’t want to bother with breakthroughs.
The galaxy is so desensitized from the violence that the only effort made to increase the efficiency of things is in the fields of warfare. How can we kill more people faster and more efficiently, is probably the motto of the R&D labs spread across the galaxy? Why should we make tech that can automate our homes or make life easier? Why use advanced tech to wash our clothes, when we can just do it with soap or water. This is the mentality of many sentients in the galaxy. Why bother when things can be accomplished in a more archaic, cheaper, easier way. Yet, when it comes to winning wars; let’s divert all our energy into creating better machines to destroy things we don’t like. Quite barbaric if you ask me.
The second limit to tech progressing is poverty. Most of the galaxy seems to be full of poor people. And it’s probably because the economy is spread too thin to be universally effective. A galaxy is a BIG location. And to help you understand the scale of it, picture a planet as a white blood cell. Then picture the galaxy as the continental USA. That’s how big a galaxy is to Earth (or any same-sized terrestrial planet). It is virtually impossible to maintain a quality of life for the likely quintillions of sentient lifeforms in the galaxy. So “wasting” money on science seems pretty foolish and non-productive. A person’s access to water, food, and shelter are far more important than creating the latest “thing” that can further a being’s understanding of reality.
The third limit is simply the Force. In the real world, nobody really knows if a God or afterlife exists. BUT in the Star Wars galaxy, the Force is a tangible thing that has been proven with 100% certainty. It exists, and those who deny it are even stupider than the Flat Earther people of our world. Now, when religion and mysticism are affirmed, it probably creates a sense of finality when it comes to observing reality. Technologies that would seem to go against the “will” of this affirmed energy field would instantly be seen as blasphemous to participate in.
Number 4 is automation’s effect on intelligence. The Star Wars galaxy has droids for almost every purpose. And likely many people on ecumenopolis on Coruscant don’t do anything. Why think when we have machines to do it for us. This is almost like an inverse of the Flynn effect on the Star Wars denizens. And if IQ tests existed in the galaxy; they would likely need a completely different scale because beings are so reliant on technology, that they are using their brains less. And are less intelligent in terms of learning. Yes, the average person may probably know the basics of superluminal physics. Which the brightest scientists on Earth would not have the foggiest idea of; yet they may not be as good at calculus or writing an essay as some human children are on Earth.
The fifth reason is my favorite one, and one that I feel should be analyzed with a laser focus. A lot of the best tech seems to be exclusive to certain species that are either long extinct or incredibly aloof to the rest of the galaxy. Some examples would be the Kaminoans and the Umbarans. They aren’t keen on being super social with the rest of the galaxy. And tend to have technology that seems far more advanced in contrast to the mainstream human-centric Galactic Republic/ Galactic Empire.
When you are isolated and in a much different environment, it would make sense that they would work extra hard to prove how unique and separate you are. The Kaminoans have extremely mature cloning tech and their ships are extremely fast. The Umbarans military tech and interfaces are far more advanced than the Republic were at the time. Their ship’s controls are not primitive levers or buttons. Instead, they are high-tech holographic gestural interfaces. They also have really good plasma-based war technology.
Some species in the Unknown Regions also tend to deviate towards this field. As the tech Darshi warriors utilized on Vader and Thrawn was completely alien to Vader, and he could only speculate at what it was. Also, a lot of alien species that are long gone tended to have reached a peak of technological advancement long before the human-centric culture arrived. And things seemed to have regressed in the later millennia.
This is reason 5 1/2. Natural regression. Once certain species get to a certain level of sophistication, the progress may do a 180 and you might get stuck in a long-lasting rut. which is what the modern-day Star Wars cultures find themselves in. Alexander Freed seems to be a big believer in 5.5. Each of his Alphabet Squadron books introduces long-vanished alien cultures whose lasting remnants of super-advanced technology that the modern characters cannot understand, remain as fossils for them to discover.
Back to Number 1. Instead of studying these techs to try and replicate them, they are often viewed like Earth humans view ancient Greek ruins or Stonehenge. There is no interest in finding out why, and even if there are a few people interested; they are fringers and not the norm.
Everyone in the Star Wars galaxy would rather be a pilot than a scientist.
Max Nocerino is a regular Staff Writer for The Future of the Force. He is a passionate Star Wars fan and loves the literature of the galaxy far, far away. Follow him on Twitter where he shares his love of the Force frequently!