We know that some Shards have knowledge of technological possibilities beyond that of the people on their planets. For example, Harmony lets it slip that eventually developing moving pictures will be possible.

It makes sense that they have this knowledge. We know that Shards have expanded perception and thought relative to human beings, with the Lord Ruler, for example, having made dozens of adjustments to the world, and only almost destroying it, in the very brief time he held the power of Preservation. Further, some can see the future to varying degrees (notably Preservation, Cultivation). Finally, the original Shards came from a pre-existing society, and may have been part of a fairly technologically advanced civilization (certainly compared to the initial stages of the cultures they created).

Nonetheless, while we see varying technology levels in the Cosmere, it doesn’t seem like Shards are directly handing out technological secrets.

Why not?

  • Do most Shards have an opposing intent? Autonomy, for example, might want people to make their own way.
  • Do they retain enough of their previous selves to be interested in non-interference, or seeing cultures develop organically?
  • Is it that they’re out of commission (splintered, imprisoned)?
  • Have they actually influenced technological development, and I just didn’t notice?
  • Some combination thereof?

We do not exactly have a large sample size, but lets go down a list and see what shakes out -

  • Roshar - primary Shard tied up in world mythology is confirmed dead and splintered. Remaining 2 Shards in system are either hostile to civilization or reclusive to it. Previously Honor's primary agents were known to hand out technology to rebuild human civilization - if only so it could survive another apocalypse.
  • Scadrial - Harmony has not directly contributed to modern progress, but is definitely shown meddling where needed so long as he can avoid taking an active hand and triggering overreliance on his power. Also not above dropping hints so the right people get the right ideas of what's possible. Preservation and Ruin don't appear to have done anything like this, although it's hard to tell since the distant past is not well documented.
  • Sel - Two Shards in system are both deceased and splintered. No one's left to hand anything out.
  • Nalthas - Little to nothing known about the Shard in system, except speculation based on what little we know of magic system and mythology.
  • Taldain - Little to nothing known about the Shard in system, except speculation as with Nalthas, and other than Khriss's comments that imply she can't go home again.
  • Threnody - a confirmed dead Shard, although circumstances are even murkier than the others

To conclude... the Shards seem to be way too busy dealing with their own cosmological crap - up to and including dying off in significant numbers - to really contribute too much to the advancement of civilization and technology. History of the major Cosmere worlds does show it happening however, just not at a level that appears to have major lasting impact, especially when the plural of apocalypse is involved across more than one world's history.

  • It is important to note that Mistborn Era 3 & 4 will take place in worlds with modern and futuristic technology levels, respectively, partially powered by magic (i.e. FTL travel). – Scott Milner Aug 29 '17 at 23:52
  • @Scott - yes, that's the plan per the author, but plans can change, and until we see the detail of those eras in book form, how they will deal with this particular question is completely unknown. FTL travel may end up a cute novelty to those people already worldhopping, or at least the thought amuses me. – Radhil Aug 30 '17 at 0:02
  • In Nalthis, we know that the local Shard is actively meddling in making the world a better place. The scene where Lightsong remembers how he became a Returned gives us a brief but rather compelling look behind that particular curtain. – Mason Wheeler Feb 21 '19 at 19:59

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