So far, this writing has concentrated primarily on the solutions to resource scarcity and the benefits they provide our way of life. We see that Universal Energy gives us an abundance of critical resources alongside unlimited energy and fuel, which when combined together presents the ability to prefabricate systems both far less expensively and to far greater scales than we can today.
These are incredible goals to reach because they solve vexing problems that have dogged us for millennia. But beyond solving problems, reaching these goals also opens doors for us ascend to a higher scale of living.
Ascend is a word used here with specific intent. Recall that humanity has been around for only about 200,000 years. Yet we ascended to “actual” civilization only in the past 5,000 years, and we ascended to “modern” civilization only in the past 100-150. From the year 200,000 B.C. until the mid-1800s, the fastest a human could travel was on horseback. Yet by the start of the 20th century we had the train, automobile and the aircraft, and we landed on the moon less than 70 years later. The light bulb, internet, cellphone, computer, spacecraft, satellite, television and skyscraper were all invented in roughly the past 1/2,000th of our history.
We didn’t achieve those things through luck, we achieved them through ascension – namely technological ascension. Implementing Universal Energy is the next level of that ascension, yet once accomplished, we would be spared the hindrances that have been holding us back for millennia. We would have unlimited energy and resources. We would have the means to indefinitely synthesize materials as products of that energy and those resources. Just as importantly, we would be spared the social consequences of scarcity that have consumed our focus from day one.
With those benefits combined, we can ascend once again, and build systems, achieve goals and advance our civilization to the next order of magnitude.
To explain what I mean by that, I think it would be helpful to introduce a concept that philosophers, scientists and futurists refer to as “scales of civilization,” also known as the Kardashev scale. These scales act as a quantifiable metric of how advanced a civilization has become or can become in the future. The original model (created by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev in 1964) had three types:
Type I: a civilization that sources its energy and resources from its planet.
Type II: a civilization that sources its energy and resource from its star.
Type III: a civilization that sources its energy and resources from its galaxy.
Using the Kardashev Scale as a base, this writing proposes an expanded model with greater nuance to illustrate our historical progress and identify what heights we could possibly reach in the future. This model is referred to as the Ten Tiers of Civilization, described as follows:
The Ten Tiers of Civilization
Tier 1: Fire and Stone: the most basic form of civilization: control of fire and the ability to craft stone tools, subsisting exclusively on a hunter-gatherer diet. This tier represents approximately 95% of human history.
Tier 2: Agricultural: the ability to grow crops and raise livestock, accelerating population growth. Social hierarchies/customs form and basic metallurgy is discovered. The possibility of organized conflict becomes a fixture of life. Humanity reached this tier during the Neolithic Revolution, around 10,000 B.C.
Tier 3: Pre-industrial: command of stone and wood with a basic understanding of math, science and astrology. Language and law are established, as are cities, borders, nationalism and diplomatic relations between states. Potential for conflict is high. This tier was reached in Mesopotamia, roughly 3,000 B.C
Tier 4: Industrial: complex machines powered by non-human means are invented, including mechanized assembly and transportation systems. Conflict carries consequences of increased severity. We reached this tier during the Industrial Revolution, approximately 1760.
Tier 5: Atomic: civilization discovers nuclear energy and has the ability to build large-scale agricultural systems and social infrastructure (highways, airports, etc.). Population grows exponentially. Potential for resource conflict increases, as does the potential for mass destruction (and genocide) as a result. We reached this tier on 16 July, 1945 when the first atomic bomb was detonated.
Tier 6: Orbital: civilization can defy gravity and even orbit. Electronics and globalized communications emerge. Transportation over terrestrial distances becomes trivial. Population continues to grow exponentially. Potential for resource conflict is extreme, which for the first time can potentially be an extinction-level event due to nuclear arsenals and global delivery mechanisms. We reached this tier on 4 October, 1957 at the launch of the first satellite. This is the tier we are in now.
Tier 7: Ascendant: civilization has developed technology capable of synthesizing unlimited energy, resources and materials, thus ending resource scarcity and the potential for resource conflict. Maslow’s needs are met, neutralizing most social problems and stabilizing population growth, creating a harmonious existence that is environmentally sustainable. In turn, civilization is able to devote the entirety of its resources to social advancement with more sophisticated infrastructure. This is the tier Universal Energy brings us to.
Tier 8: Transcendent: civilization has crossed the biological threshold and is able to store and transport consciousness outside of a physical body of flesh and blood (sophisticated brain to computer interface). Artificial sentience exists and both biomass and bionic structures can be synthesized effectively, leading to the possibility of synergy between organic and synthetic life.
Tier 9: Interstellar: civilization has reached the mastery of planetary existence, and becomes capable of inhabiting other planets. Intersolar and interstellar transportation is invented, as is greater command of nanoengineering (Barrow's Type V-minus). Notwithstanding the uncertain feasibility of faster-than-light travel, this tier represents what might be described by the fictional Star Trek universe.
Tier 10: Intergalactic: civilization is capable of space travel between galaxies and can artificially create habitable worlds. A hypothetical Tier 10 civilization would furthermore command a comprehensive knowledge of universal physics (Barrow's VI/Ω-minus). This tier in concept is represented by precursor civilizations in modern science fiction (HALO's forerunners being a good example).
Putting aside the use of science fiction as a means of elaboration, we first and foremost see that humankind has ascended at an accelerating rate. It took us ~190,000 years to go from Tier 1 to Tier 2, yet only 12,000 years to go from Tier 2 to Tier 6 – the tier we remain in presently. And while all of this is an impressive reflection of our capabilities, we’ve only come far enough to be forced to take a leap, for a critical attribute of Tier 6 is that it is inherently precarious.
Due to exponential population growth and the environmental changes and resource scarcity that comes with it, a civilization can only stay in Tier 6 for a limited time. It either ascends, or it falls to resource conflict – potentially an extinction-level consequence in the nuclear age. But we also see that there lies great potential for our future in terms of what we may be able to accomplish. Beyond social and economic harmony, a scarcity-free world provides the catalyst for our ascension to a Tier-7 civilization, a goal I hold no greater hope for. Universal Energy gets us there on the energy and resource end. Yet we still need another angle covered to get there on the social advancement end, involving what this writing refers to as Advanced Infrastructure.
Simply stated, Advanced Infrastructure is the next evolution of our social framework in terms of technological ascension, a scenario that is likely familiar to many of us by now. People alive today have seen dirt roads turn to highways, propeller planes turn to commercial jetliners, rotary phones turn to smartphones, 8-bit computer systems turn to inexpensive laptops that have many times more computing power than all of NASA did during the first moon landing, and perhaps most impressively, the construction of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.
Technological ascension has caused problems, true, but it has also provided many more solutions and breakthroughs – all the more so in a society powered by Universal Energy. Of the examples how, the most important are within civil engineering, transportation and aerospace, and we’ll elaborate each one in that order.