Transition to Type 1 Civilization
The move from our current civilization to a more advanced one is perilous. Humanity still demonstrates the savagery that typified our rise from the forest.
The progress of our civilization is perhaps a race against time. The march toward a global civilization may promise us an era of unparalleled peace and prosperity. But other forces – the greenhouse effect, pollution, nuclear war, fundamentalism, disease – may yet tear us apart.
Sir Martin Rees is a British cosmologist and former President of the Royal Society between 2005 and 2010. He sees these threats, as well as those due to terrorism, bioengineered germs, and other nightmares, as some of the greatest challenges facing humanity.
Sadly, he gives us only a fifty-fifty chance of negotiating them.
This may be one of the reasons we don’t see extra-terrestrial civilizations in space. If they exist, perhaps they are so advanced that they see little interest in our primitive society. Or, perhaps war or pollution has killed them off.
Advancing to a single global planetary civilization may be the hardest task humanity ever faces. Harder even than the death of our star.
This is the view of Michio Kaku, an American physicist and populariser of science. Rather than be depressed by the sheer enormity of the universe, Michio is thrilled by the idea of new worlds that exist next to ours.
We live in an age when we are just beginning the exploration of the cosmos with our space probes and space telescopes, our theories and equations.
He also feels privileged to be alive at a time when our world is undergoing such heroic strides.
We are alive to witness the greatest transition in human history, the evolution to a type I civilization. It is perhaps the most momentous, but also dangerous time.
In the past, our ancestors lived in a harsh, cruel world. For most of human history, people lived short, brutish lives, with an average life expectancy of about twenty years. They lived in constant fear of diseases, at the mercy of fate.
Even within the last century, our grandparents lived without the benefit of modern sanitation, antibiotics, jet airplanes, computers, or other electronic marvels.
Our grandchildren, however, will live at the dawning of Earth’s first planetary civilization. If we don’t allow our instinct for self-destruction to consume us, the next generation could live in an age without hunger and disease.
For the first time in human history, we own both the means for destroying all life on Earth or realizing a paradise on the planet.
As a child, he often wondered what it would be like to live in the far future. Today, he believes that if he could choose to be alive in any particular era of humanity, he would choose this one. We are now at the most exciting time in human history.
At the cusp of some of the greatest cosmic discoveries and technological advances of all time.
We are making the historic transition from being passive observers of nature to becoming nature’s master. Now possessing the ability to manipulate life, matter, and intelligence.
With this power though, comes great responsibility. A responsibility to ensure that our efforts are wise and for the benefit of all humanity.
We hold the future fate of our species in our hands.
Whether we achieve our potential to become a unified single civilization able to master the power of the planet or fall into a pit of pollution, chaos and despair. Choices made by us will resound for centuries to come.
How we resolve tensions between nations, atomic weapons, and religious and ethnic strife, all will either lay the foundations for, or destroy the establishment of, a future type 1 civilization.
Perhaps the reason and significance of the present era is to ensure that the move to a type 1 civilization takes place as smoothly as possible.