I’ve noticed quite a few posts asking for “alternatives” to established technologies like wheels and firearms. However, in almost every question in the category that I’ve seen, there has been only two accepted answers.
- There is a non-preferable “alternative” that will not be adopted because it is not cost-efficient and will only be adopted if the resources needed to make the established technology are unavailable
- A cost-efficient “alternative” does exist but it is not adopted since it cannot replicate all of the features of the established technology and will also only be adopted if the resources needed to make the established technology are unavailable
The reason for this is quite simple: if there was a perfect alternative to the established technology, it would have been already used in the real-world.
Here are some examples of what I was talking about:
- Wheel: What technologies will make the wheel obsolete in the future?
- Firearms: Would there be alternatives to firearms in an industrializing society?
- Bathing/Showering (the accepted answer lists several ways that all fit #1 or #2): Futuristic alternative for showering/bathing
- Horses (accepted answer is human running): Alternative Means of Transportation
- Airplanes: Alternative flight
Many of these questions have been closed for being either too broad or being opinion-based. How should we respond to these types of posts when the answer will almost always be one of the two I mentioned above?