On the matter of technology and literacy

GDQuirm

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There’s going to be techs, I presume. There’s going to be idea-based techs too, like in V2, I presume (economic theories, evolution, stuff like that). So I suggest three ideas:

-Importing ideas and technologies should not only be a normal part of the game, but central to the tech system. Everybody didn’t invent the train. Britain invented the train, everybody else copied and iterated on it. Some technologies were invented in multiple places, but most were not.
-You should need a base level of good literacy to be able to import technologies and ideas. Japan had 40% in 1864, which is why, along with Rangaku (the body of imported European scientific texts studied in Japan for 200 years leading up to the 1850s), Japan was the only country outside of the Western world to dramatically improve their standard of living in this time period.
-You should need to import a range of scientific concepts before being capable of inventing new ones.

To be extra, extra clear: Japan was the only country outside of Europe with a high literacy rate by the standards of the 1860s, 1900s, or 1930s, and had continuously imported European sciences for the last 200 years. They didn’t magic into being developed because the Americans showed up and asked them to do it, or because they pressed a ‘Westernize’ button. But if there’s no ‘Westernization’, there should still need to be scientific importing and prerequisites to it that aren’t there to begin with, because it serves the same goal of making sure Ethiopia doesn’t wind up as a developed country in 1900 just because the AI happens to be moderately competent at urbanizing.

To put it bluntly, it isn’t period-accurate for the standard of living to increase outside of the West, regardless of whether a country is colonized by Europeans or not. I won’t ramble about the history, but to keep things brief, I’ll just mention some life expectancies. In 1850, Chinese life expectancy was 32 years. In 1930, it was 32 years. In 1850, Indian life expectancy was 25 years. In 1930, it was 21 years. The Ottoman Empire, a ‘recognized’ power, had a life expectancy of 35 in 1930. By contrast, almost everywhere in Europe went from life expectancies in the 30s in 1850, to 50-65 in 1930. It didn’t matter what country. Imperialists or puppet states; empires or tiny nations; landlocked, resourceless, barren mountains, or lush, fertile valleys… from Switzerland to Britain to even the conquered regions of Poland, living standards skyrocketed.

And, of course, in Japan. Where life expectancy rose to 46. Unlike in every other country outside of Europe, where it didn’t rise at all.

And to make one last argument, I’ll throw up Portugal. Portugal left the 19th century as one of the poorest countries in Europe, even poorer than Japan, which had only started trying to dramatically copy Western state models halfway through the 19th century. Why?

Because as it turns out, even if you free the peasantry, allow free political debate, promote exports, abolish fees paid to landowners, prohibit monopolies, codify a civil code that provides rights to everybody regardless of class, secularize the state, nationalize church property and sell it to the public…

None of that matters if people aren’t literate.

Poor 19th century Portugal. It tried so hard to give the people social reform, and tried so little to give them schools. Even in 1930, the government had still made no serious effort to establish public schools, and the literacy rate was 33%.

That’s right. 33%. It was lower in 1930 than it was in Japan in 1864.

There might be some error there in the polling methods, but the point stands.

TL;DR:

Importing technology and ideas should be more common than developing your own technology and ideas, even in Europe, but overwhelmingly important for undeveloped countries. Literacy should be central to allowing this to happen. Inventing new technologies should first require importing a range of technologies and ideas.
 
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BotherMe

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There’s already been hints about tech “spreading” from country to country, maybe like institutions in EU4 if you’ve ever played that game. There’s also been indirect sightings of tech categories as well as social inventions. I remember in one DD they revealed that for women to be allowed in the workplace, the country has to “invent” feminism.

After the war DDs, my guess is we’re going to get the research DD fairly soon. Until then I recommend you have patience and don’t start trying to make bricks without any clay :)
 
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Al-Khalidi

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There’s going to be techs, I presume. There’s going to be idea-based techs too, like in V2, I presume (economic theories, evolution, stuff like that). So I suggest three ideas:

-Importing ideas and technologies should not only be a normal part of the game, but central to the tech system. Everybody didn’t invent the train. Britain invented the train, everybody else copied and iterated on it. Some technologies were invented in multiple places, but most were not.
-You should need a base level of good literacy to be able to import technologies and ideas. Japan had 40% in 1864, which is why, along with Rangaku (the body of imported European scientific texts studied in Japan for 200 years leading up to the 1850s), Japan was the only country outside of the Western world to dramatically improve their standard of living in this time period.
-You should need to import a range of scientific concepts before being capable of inventing new ones.

To be extra, extra clear: Japan was the only country outside of Europe with a high literacy rate by the standards of the 1860s, 1900s, or 1930s, and had continuously imported European sciences for the last 200 years. They didn’t magic into being developed because the Americans showed up and asked them to do it, or because they pressed a ‘Westernize’ button. But if there’s no ‘Westernization’, there should still need to be scientific importing and prerequisites to it that aren’t there to begin with, because it serves the same goal of making sure Ethiopia doesn’t wind up as a developed country in 1900 just because the AI happens to be moderately competent at urbanizing.

To put it bluntly, it isn’t period-accurate for the standard of living to increase outside of the West, regardless of whether a country is colonized by Europeans or not. I won’t ramble about the history, but to keep things brief, I’ll just mention some life expectancies. In 1850, Chinese life expectancy was 32 years. In 1930, it was 32 years. In 1850, Indian life expectancy was 25 years. In 1930, it was 21 years. The Ottoman Empire, a ‘recognized’ power, had a life expectancy of 35 in 1930. By contrast, almost everywhere in Europe went from life expectancies in the 30s in 1850, to 50-65 in 1930. It didn’t matter what country. Imperialists or puppet states; empires or tiny nations; landlocked, resourceless, barren mountains, or lush, fertile valleys… from Switzerland to Britain to even the conquered regions of Poland, living standards skyrocketed.

And, of course, in Japan. Where life expectancy rose to 46. Unlike in every other country outside of Europe, where it didn’t rise at all.

And to make one last argument, I’ll throw up Portugal. Portugal left the 19th century as one of the poorest countries in Europe, even poorer than Japan, which had only started trying to dramatically copy Western state models halfway through the 19th century. Why?

Because as it turns out, even if you free the peasantry, allow free political debate, promote exports, abolish fees paid to landowners, prohibit monopolies, codify a civil code that provides rights to everybody regardless of class, secularize the state, nationalize church property and sell it to the public…

None of that matters if people aren’t literate.

Poor 19th century Portugal. It tried so hard to give the people social reform, and tried so little to give them schools. Even in 1930, the government had still made no serious effort to establish public schools, and the literacy rate was 33%.

That’s right. 33%. It was lower in 1930 than it was in Japan in 1864.

There might be some error there in the polling methods, but the point stands.

TL;DR:

Importing technology and ideas should be more common than developing your own technology and ideas, even in Europe, but overwhelmingly important for undeveloped countries. Literacy should be central to allowing this to happen. Inventing new technologies should first require importing a range of technologies and ideas.
I'm not sure why you dedicated biggest part of this post to standard of living related issues. Ofcourse it was smaller in the rest of the world than in Europe. It appears that making your standard of living high (regardless to where your country is located, Europe or Africa) will be one of main tasks in this game. How does it relate to technology mechanisms that appear to be your main point, I'm not sure. Ofcourse literacy will probably be crucial for technology (as it is in vic2). When it comes to importing technology - why not. Should also greatly depend on relations (although i think there is no such diplomatic action as technology sharing so far).
 
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Meanmanturbo

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The devs have stated that there will be passive tech spread. And it will be affected by litteracy as well as I think press rights. The possible downside is that it will also spread social techs that might give your pops ideas that you might not like.
 
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GDQuirm

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I'm not sure why you dedicated biggest part of this post to standard of living related issues.
Because it’s a convenient measure for the spread of technology. Standard of living was a direct result of the cheapening of goods by manufacturing, the increase in purchasing power of employed workers, and the introduction of higher quality goods, housing, sewers, plumbing, and all that other good stuff. And all of that requires technological advancements that most of the world never received.

I was drawing a line between the ability of a country to import technologies and the presence of literacy, by way of standard of living.

I rambled a bit much, but in essence I don’t think techs should be independently ‘researched’, nor just ‘flow’ out on the map, weighted by literacy. It shouldn’t be the case that Ethiopia is capable of receiving engineering knowledge ‘passively’ from bordering a more advanced Egypt, not even at a slow pace, unless Ethiopia actually has the educational facilities to allow people to understand the body of knowledge required. And overwhelmingly, almost nowhere had literacy.
 
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BotherMe

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The point is, you don’t know what causes research to spread. Maybe you already have what you want and research spreads faster with higher SoL, literacy, and with imports from more technologically advanced countries. Or maybe your worst fears came true and it’s a Vic 2 system. Wait and see when they release more info.
 

mikhail321

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I hope it will not be just literacy as the main determinant of tech progress. Russia in early 1900 was below 20% literacy, I believe, but it was not behind Japan in tech (and probably ahead of you consider fundamental sciences and social thought, not just pure material technology). So one might argue it is not the average literacy that matters but presence of highly literate academic elites (though even applying the concept of literacy as a useful characteristic for modern professional elites seems odd to me - of course they are 100% literate, years of education should be a much better concept). But then China would probably qualify for a tech breakthrough, but it didn’t. So it’s complicated and I’m looking forward to what the devs have in mind.
 
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Al-Khalidi

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I hope it will not be just literacy as the main determinant of tech progress. Russia in early 1900 was below 20% literacy, I believe, but it was not behind Japan in tech (and probably ahead of you consider fundamental sciences and social thought, not just pure material technology). So one might argue it is not the average literacy that matters but presence of highly literate academic elites (though even applying the concept of literacy as a useful characteristic for modern professional elites seems odd to me - of course they are 100% literate, years of education should be a much better concept). But then China would probably qualify for a tech breakthrough, but it didn’t. So it’s complicated and I’m looking forward to what the devs have in mind.
True, another good example would be Ottoman Empire which had probably even lower literacy and standard of living, but its army from second half of XIX century in some aspects was even technologically superior to some european armies.
 
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heniska

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I hope it will not be just literacy as the main determinant of tech progress. Russia in early 1900 was below 20% literacy, I believe, but it was not behind Japan in tech (and probably ahead of you consider fundamental sciences and social thought, not just pure material technology). So one might argue it is not the average literacy that matters but presence of highly literate academic elites (though even applying the concept of literacy as a useful characteristic for modern professional elites seems odd to me - of course they are 100% literate, years of education should be a much better concept). But then China would probably qualify for a tech breakthrough, but it didn’t. So it’s complicated and I’m looking forward to what the devs have in mind.
Russia was only ahead because it started from a higher level than Japan in 1864. Also proximity to the rest of Europe also helps.
 

Meanmanturbo

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Dont remember which DD it was in. But research would be done by universities employing Academics generating research points that get invested in the 1 technology you are researching. Your litteracy will set your maximum for invested research points per tick. Excess research points that doesnt get invested instead increase passive tech spread to your county.
 
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Bane5

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presence of highly literate academic elites.... But then China would probably qualify for a tech breakthrough, but it didn’t. So it’s complicated
  • Too much market regulation to an extreme degree which suffocated innovation.
    • Emphasis on maintaining government monopolies.
  • Heavy bureaucratic corruption among local administrators.
    • Lower-level officials were often in-charge of reforms rather than the central government itself.
  • Waning authority of the central government (see Taiping and other various rebellions).
    • Shortage of capital for modernization due to having to quell so many rebellions and bandit armies
  • Lack of a middle class.
    • The merchants were absolutely reviled by the government and seen as a threat.
  • Reforms aimed at just benefiting the people rather than fundamentally changing the structure of those in power.
    • Even when later modernization attempts tried democratization or better centralization/state planning, the general populace were long apathetic after so many failed waves of attempts.
It wasn't until the 1970s after the chaos of the late 60s cultural revolution that China began to see some stable rapid progress. Then in 1978, they had the huge foreign investment boom from the Open Door Policy additionally.
 
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Antediluvian Monster

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There’s going to be techs, I presume. There’s going to be idea-based techs too, like in V2, I presume (economic theories, evolution, stuff like that). So I suggest three ideas:

-Importing ideas and technologies should not only be a normal part of the game, but central to the tech system. Everybody didn’t invent the train. Britain invented the train, everybody else copied and iterated on it. Some technologies were invented in multiple places, but most were not.
-You should need a base level of good literacy to be able to import technologies and ideas. Japan had 40% in 1864, which is why, along with Rangaku (the body of imported European scientific texts studied in Japan for 200 years leading up to the 1850s), Japan was the only country outside of the Western world to dramatically improve their standard of living in this time period.
-You should need to import a range of scientific concepts before being capable of inventing new ones.

To be extra, extra clear: Japan was the only country outside of Europe with a high literacy rate by the standards of the 1860s, 1900s, or 1930s, and had continuously imported European sciences for the last 200 years. They didn’t magic into being developed because the Americans showed up and asked them to do it, or because they pressed a ‘Westernize’ button. But if there’s no ‘Westernization’, there should still need to be scientific importing and prerequisites to it that aren’t there to begin with, because it serves the same goal of making sure Ethiopia doesn’t wind up as a developed country in 1900 just because the AI happens to be moderately competent at urbanizing.

To put it bluntly, it isn’t period-accurate for the standard of living to increase outside of the West, regardless of whether a country is colonized by Europeans or not. I won’t ramble about the history, but to keep things brief, I’ll just mention some life expectancies. In 1850, Chinese life expectancy was 32 years. In 1930, it was 32 years. In 1850, Indian life expectancy was 25 years. In 1930, it was 21 years. The Ottoman Empire, a ‘recognized’ power, had a life expectancy of 35 in 1930. By contrast, almost everywhere in Europe went from life expectancies in the 30s in 1850, to 50-65 in 1930. It didn’t matter what country. Imperialists or puppet states; empires or tiny nations; landlocked, resourceless, barren mountains, or lush, fertile valleys… from Switzerland to Britain to even the conquered regions of Poland, living standards skyrocketed.

And, of course, in Japan. Where life expectancy rose to 46. Unlike in every other country outside of Europe, where it didn’t rise at all.

And to make one last argument, I’ll throw up Portugal. Portugal left the 19th century as one of the poorest countries in Europe, even poorer than Japan, which had only started trying to dramatically copy Western state models halfway through the 19th century. Why?

Because as it turns out, even if you free the peasantry, allow free political debate, promote exports, abolish fees paid to landowners, prohibit monopolies, codify a civil code that provides rights to everybody regardless of class, secularize the state, nationalize church property and sell it to the public…

None of that matters if people aren’t literate.

Poor 19th century Portugal. It tried so hard to give the people social reform, and tried so little to give them schools. Even in 1930, the government had still made no serious effort to establish public schools, and the literacy rate was 33%.

That’s right. 33%. It was lower in 1930 than it was in Japan in 1864.

There might be some error there in the polling methods, but the point stands.

TL;DR:

Importing technology and ideas should be more common than developing your own technology and ideas, even in Europe, but overwhelmingly important for undeveloped countries. Literacy should be central to allowing this to happen. Inventing new technologies should first require importing a range of technologies and ideas.

Another major advantage for Japan is that they had a revolution. The provincial samurai "elite" of Choshu and Satsuma hans were often quite impoverished and had grown past the carrying capacity of their land grants. But they were educated, and didn't have great attachment for the powers that be. They then became the prime movers of the revolution and afterwards the founding fathers of the new Japan. If you just try to modernize on top of an existing system there's always going to be THAT guy (actually many of them) who's vested interests are in the old way of doing things, and modernizers may end up a political threat to them.
 
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mikhail321

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Russia was only ahead because it started from a higher level than Japan in 1864. Also proximity to the rest of Europe also helps.
In times of Crimean war Russia was quite backward by European standards, but then the progress sped up significantly despite no fundamental shifts in average literacy, so in early 1900th Russia was certainly closer to technological edge than in 1850s, something that was impossible to recreate in Vic2 without hitting a record-high literacy. You could factor in academic and political freedoms, which were pretty much irrelevant for research in Vic2.
My overall issue with Vic2 is that literacy was the single most important variable impacting research, productivity (through clerk promotion), social mobility, and political activism which allowed you to make reforms that were generally beneficial. Westernization also heavily depended on it. So the whole societal simulation for the player boiled down to setting the education slider to max and encouraging clergy for some years if you start low, and than just waiting several decades for any country to turn into an world tech and productivity leader. I hope it is more nuanced in Vic3.
 
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Joseph K

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One thing I'd like to see is making a better process to rapidly increase literacy levels, balanced by tremendous cost in terms of money as well as social unrest. Several countries at various points in history were able to rapidly raise literacy, far quicker than the meager rates possible in vic 2. The USSR for example was able to increase basic literacy from around 25% in 1917 to around 85% by 1936. I came across a paper (outside of period and in a different political context, but in an economic one that was quite similar) that estimated that the Chinese were able to raise literacy for women by 3% a year throughout the 50s. I think that the game should show this better.

There is an argument in economics that a key factor for countries that grow are ones that are politically, cultural and socially geared to accept new technologies, and especially to tolerate and deal with the short term costs from new technology. Its an extension of Schumpeterian creative destruction arguments. An example of this would be the Empress Cixi who blocked the construction of railways, as her cabinet were worried the trains would cause disruption to the countryside and cause workers in the existing transport sector to loose their jobs.

The importance of this for Vic 3, is that technology should be something that countries, though interest groups, can try to block the spread of. Their arrival from other countries should provoke social unrest and disruption. Farm workers rioting, for example, as new machines put them out of work. Aristocrats actively trying to block the spread of industry to preserve their power bases. When it comes to tech spread, you should be essentially forcing disruption onto your population to drive long term growth.

As the OP noted, Japan with its literacy, as well its deceptively advanced degree of commercialisation in its economy and its balkanised, yet still professional bureaucracy was able to develop. These factors, and elites gripped by the realisation 'oh shit we're about to get colonised unless we get western tech' meant they were more willing to bear the disruption of economic and technologic progress, and were better able to take advantage of western technology.
 
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GDQuirm

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Dont remember which DD it was in. But research would be done by universities employing Academics generating research points that get invested in the 1 technology you are researching. Your litteracy will set your maximum for invested research points per tick. Excess research points that doesnt get invested instead increase passive tech spread to your county.
I hope it’s a little more nuanced than that. I won’t make any hard opinions until I see it, but there were a lot of universities around the Muslim world in the 1800s, including in places like Mali and Arabia, but none of those universities produced technological advancements in this period, and definitely didn’t teach sciences anywhere on the level of European universities. They were mostly religious institutions that did teach sciences and learning, but due to the lack of the scientific method, the rate of progress was about a glacial as it was in Europe prior to the scientific method.

They were mostly there to share old knowledge, not to discover new knowledge. And to that it would be cool if they were represented ingame somehow in a way that let them help spread literacy or become institutionalized if the state wanted, but I also know a lot of people here aren’t big fans of region, culture, or country-specific mechanics, and I’m not sure how you could do it otherwise.
 
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Antediluvian Monster

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In times of Crimean war Russia was quite backward by European standards, but then the progress sped up significantly despite no fundamental shifts in average literacy, so in early 1900th Russia was certainly closer to technological edge than in 1850s, something that was impossible to recreate in Vic2 without hitting a record-high literacy. You could factor in academic and political freedoms, which were pretty much irrelevant for research in Vic2.
My overall issue with Vic2 is that literacy was the single most important variable impacting research, productivity (through clerk promotion), social mobility, and political activism which allowed you to make reforms that were generally beneficial. Westernization also heavily depended on it. So the whole societal simulation for the player boiled down to setting the education slider to max and encouraging clergy for some years if you start low, and than just waiting several decades for any country to turn into an world tech and productivity leader. I hope it is more nuanced in Vic3.

Could this be represented by state capital investment in tech transfer? At least as far as I know from military technology, it does seem historical (e.g. French ships, French and German cannons, American and Belgian gunsmiths). In game terms, Russia would increase it's rate of modernization by exact same mechanic Japan uses in the same time period.
 

Antediluvian Monster

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One thing I'd like to see is making a better process to rapidly increase literacy levels, balanced by tremendous cost in terms of money as well as social unrest. Several countries at various points in history were able to rapidly raise literacy, far quicker than the meager rates possible in vic 2. The USSR for example was able to increase basic literacy from around 25% in 1917 to around 85% by 1936. I came across a paper (outside of period and in a different political context, but in an economic one that was quite similar) that estimated that the Chinese were able to raise literacy for women by 3% a year throughout the 50s. I think that the game should show this better.

There is an argument in economics that a key factor for countries that grow are ones that are politically, cultural and socially geared to accept new technologies, and especially to tolerate and deal with the short term costs from new technology. Its an extension of Schumpeterian creative destruction arguments. An example of this would be the Empress Cixi who blocked the construction of railways, as her cabinet were worried the trains would cause disruption to the countryside and cause workers in the existing transport sector to loose their jobs.

The importance of this for Vic 3, is that technology should be something that countries, though interest groups, can try to block the spread of. Their arrival from other countries should provoke social unrest and disruption. Farm workers rioting, for example, as new machines put them out of work. Aristocrats actively trying to block the spread of industry to preserve their power bases. When it comes to tech spread, you should be essentially forcing disruption onto your population to drive long term growth.

As the OP noted, Japan with its literacy, as well its deceptively advanced degree of commercialisation in its economy and its balkanised, yet still professional bureaucracy was able to develop. These factors, and elites gripped by the realisation 'oh shit we're about to get colonised unless we get western tech' meant they were more willing to bear the disruption of economic and technologic progress, and were better able to take advantage of western technology.

This does beg this question whether something like "westernization", or perhaps more neutrally "cultural reform" or "cultural openness" could be an useful variable. Success of tech transfer could then be a synthesis of cultural openness x literacy x capital x recognition.
 
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This does beg this question whether something like "westernization", or perhaps more neutrally "cultural reform" or "cultural openness" could be an useful variable. Success of tech transfer could then be a synthesis of cultural openness x literacy x capital x recognition.
I'd stress that culture is highly flexible and organic; it shouldn't just be a static modifier. I think the 'culture' of openness is best simulated by the positions of interest groups vis a vis new technologies.
 
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gjfkgjfj

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There’s going to be techs, I presume. There’s going to be idea-based techs too, like in V2, I presume (economic theories, evolution, stuff like that). So I suggest three ideas:

-Importing ideas and technologies should not only be a normal part of the game, but central to the tech system. Everybody didn’t invent the train. Britain invented the train, everybody else copied and iterated on it. Some technologies were invented in multiple places, but most were not.
-You should need a base level of good literacy to be able to import technologies and ideas. Japan had 40% in 1864, which is why, along with Rangaku (the body of imported European scientific texts studied in Japan for 200 years leading up to the 1850s), Japan was the only country outside of the Western world to dramatically improve their standard of living in this time period.
-You should need to import a range of scientific concepts before being capable of inventing new ones.

To be extra, extra clear: Japan was the only country outside of Europe with a high literacy rate by the standards of the 1860s, 1900s, or 1930s, and had continuously imported European sciences for the last 200 years. They didn’t magic into being developed because the Americans showed up and asked them to do it, or because they pressed a ‘Westernize’ button. But if there’s no ‘Westernization’, there should still need to be scientific importing and prerequisites to it that aren’t there to begin with, because it serves the same goal of making sure Ethiopia doesn’t wind up as a developed country in 1900 just because the AI happens to be moderately competent at urbanizing.

To put it bluntly, it isn’t period-accurate for the standard of living to increase outside of the West, regardless of whether a country is colonized by Europeans or not. I won’t ramble about the history, but to keep things brief, I’ll just mention some life expectancies. In 1850, Chinese life expectancy was 32 years. In 1930, it was 32 years. In 1850, Indian life expectancy was 25 years. In 1930, it was 21 years. The Ottoman Empire, a ‘recognized’ power, had a life expectancy of 35 in 1930. By contrast, almost everywhere in Europe went from life expectancies in the 30s in 1850, to 50-65 in 1930. It didn’t matter what country. Imperialists or puppet states; empires or tiny nations; landlocked, resourceless, barren mountains, or lush, fertile valleys… from Switzerland to Britain to even the conquered regions of Poland, living standards skyrocketed.

And, of course, in Japan. Where life expectancy rose to 46. Unlike in every other country outside of Europe, where it didn’t rise at all.

And to make one last argument, I’ll throw up Portugal. Portugal left the 19th century as one of the poorest countries in Europe, even poorer than Japan, which had only started trying to dramatically copy Western state models halfway through the 19th century. Why?

Because as it turns out, even if you free the peasantry, allow free political debate, promote exports, abolish fees paid to landowners, prohibit monopolies, codify a civil code that provides rights to everybody regardless of class, secularize the state, nationalize church property and sell it to the public…

None of that matters if people aren’t literate.

Poor 19th century Portugal. It tried so hard to give the people social reform, and tried so little to give them schools. Even in 1930, the government had still made no serious effort to establish public schools, and the literacy rate was 33%.

That’s right. 33%. It was lower in 1930 than it was in Japan in 1864.

There might be some error there in the polling methods, but the point stands.

TL;DR:

Importing technology and ideas should be more common than developing your own technology and ideas, even in Europe, but overwhelmingly important for undeveloped countries. Literacy should be central to allowing this to happen. Inventing new technologies should first require importing a range of technologies and ideas.
pretty sure vic2 tecnology system was based on this , on an abstract level, you needed to get a high literacy to get tecnologies fast, high literate countries where the first one to get the tecnologies, and these tecnologies become cheaper as years passed, so that simulated the copy mechanism you talk about, ethiopia cant research trains in 1836 but it can in 1840 cause is cheaper to research and "import"