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I don't know how I remember this random crap, but way back in 1998 there was some guy on the LKML who said that a company was going to come out with a 90gb drive made from reverse engineered UFO technology that would be as big as as poker chip. Everyone though he was a kook of course. Interesting to think we've exceeeded what would have been considered technology of extraterrestrial origin 20 years ago when it comes to data storage.


One thing the aliens are messing with us is that they only reveal technology to us that’s within a few decades of us developing it ourselves. They never show the real advanced stuff they have.

It's maybe not the most common sci-fi trope but quite a few works touch on this, like Star Trek or Banks' Culture - there is little point to technology transfer that would be "indistinguishable from magic." If the recipients don't understand the underlying principles, cannot create or use the tooling to create or fix these technologies or lack some intermediate technology, they will be dependent on the provider or back to square one when the gifted tech fails. That's why it's better to reveal the technology or science one step at a time.

You can only stand on the shoulders of giants by stepping on the shoulders of successively taller people.

Good idea. So I guess the aliens have a very sophisticated master plan to get us up to speed. We just have to be patient.

"indistinguishable from magic."

I think that trope only works for people who are inclined toward superstition. If an alien were to demonstrate teleportation or replication or something else equally far fetched, I would look at it as advanced technology, not magic.

I'm skeptical of magic in general, though.

The point of the quote is that you wouldn’t be able to grasp the basic principles it operates on, and as such it would be functionally equivalent to something as unexplainable as magic. It doesn’t matter what the nature of the object actually is or what you consider it to be; what matters is that you would not have any basis to elaborate a judgement.

It was not meant literally, it's an allusion to Arthur C. Clarke: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

SciFi is always based on our current level of technology.

For example, the scifi series Perry Rhodan, which started in the 60s, had people use punch cards up until the year 3000 AD, the reboot spinoff in 2006 has tablets and microSD cards being thrown around before the heroes even meet the aliens.

That's because they're only one step ahead of us.

UFO sightings didn't drop because everyone started carrying cameras, it's because aliens developed cloaking technology.

“UFO sightings didn't drop because everyone started carrying cameras”

But for some reason the quality of pictures doesn’t improve with quality of the cameras :)

Circa 1997/1998, I told my music professor that I look forward to the day when we could fit all of, say, Mozart's music on a single piece of media, like, a cube or something.

Silly me. I thought it would take a cube.

If by chance you are mis-remembering and it was a 90 megabyte hard drive, it may have been these real things: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microdrive#Microdrive_models_b... If you didn't mis-remember, well, it's still an interesting diversion of a link under the circumstances.

Never seen one of those in Europe, I would have probably bought some... anyway I love how that most of that page has clearly not been touched for 13 years.

Stories like this make me optimistic about fully autonomous vehicles

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