For the purposes of the story, it’s simplest to presume that, in the world of the Commonwealth, development of machine-based technology takes place at essentially the same pace and sequence, and with much the same developers, as in our own timeline. For example, steam-powered industrial pumps begin to be available by the end of 17th-century; the first steam-powered vehicle – Cugnot’s fardier – by the end of the 18th-century; steam-powered railways burst onto the scene at the start of Victoria’s nominal reign. Wired-telegraphy becomes practical at much the same time, with wireless telegraphy just starting to appear by the end of 19th-century. Industrial-scale production of iron appears in the middle of the 18th-century; industrial-scale production of steel by the middle of the 19th-century. The Britain of the Commonwealth still takes much of the lead in this, as in our own timeline, but with significantly less of Blake’s ‘dark satanic mills’ or Dickens’ soot and grime.
Within the Commonwealth itself, though, there are some significant sources of difference, at the least in terms of social and environmental impact:
- the plant-based technologies of vinery develop roughly in parallel with machine-based technologies, and until at least the end of the 19th-century, often delivering similar capabilities at far lower overall cost, also significantly reducing the demand for iron, coal and steel
- the egalitarian sociopolitics and socioeconomics of the Commonwealth prevent the machine-culture’s tendency to regard ‘ordinary’ people as disposable components (‘human resources’) for the machine
- the same socioeconomics prevent (or at least minimise) the classic possessionist-culture’s profiteering from others’ labour, and shift the personal profit-motive from financial more towards some combination of social status (fame) or science (“to prove it can be done”)
In short, the design, implementation and deployment of technologies in the Commonwealth develops and proceeds much as in our own timeline, though with the crucial difference that the core driver is perceived social benefit rather than opportunity for private profit at the expense of others. Beyond the Commonwealth itself, technology develops in much the same way and pace as in our own timeline, with promotion and protection of private profit as the omnipresent, omnivorous background driver for everything.
Last Update: August 26, 2017