LIBRARY OF TEMPLE
ORDERS OF SPACEFARING CIVILIZATIONS
From Earth, it may appear that there is "Us" and "Them". But "They" represents a vast and diverse variety of civilizations spanning millions of
years or more of history. Over such time spans, things change quote a lot.
This is a general classification system for levels of advancement for a civilization. There is not a sharp dividing line between each order or degree
of advancement. Even at our current stage, over a hundred years has gone by and we are far from peak.
These orders do not preclude a civilization from acquiring more advanced technology by means other than inventing it themselves. It is a simple fact
that doing so will not transform a civilization overnight. The invention of the internal combustion engine did not instantly cover the earth with
paved roads. If aliens gave it to us a century earlier, it would have been more trouble to exploit than it could solve.
You may already be familiar with some similar systems from fiction or speculative science. I invite such commentary. This is my system that I refer to
in my own work going back over 20 years and any similarity to any other system is coincidental.
- having no technology to travel through space. Humans were pure ZEROTH ORDER up until the early-to-mid-20th century. Today, the
average person in this civilization is still not capable of traveling through space, so even though we have the technology, it is still in it's
infancy. Only powerful governments and the wealthiest of wealthy can afford space travel. We are still technically ZEROTH ORDER, but have made the
first steps into FIRST ORDER.
- Rockets and other inertial propulsion (ion), which are effectively confined to the solar system. You must expect to go through
the process of being a FIRST ORDER intelligence before moving on to SECOND ORDER. Essentially you must fulfill most of Tsiolkovsky's Plan of Space
Exploration from a hundred years ago.
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, one of the founders of rocketry, spelled out what it means to be a FIRST ORDER intelligence. The peak of FIRST ORDER would
necessarily involve permanently occupying at least some of the more attractive bodies of our own solar system, like oh, say Mars, Europa, Triton.
- Since you must surpass the peak of FIRST ORDER, the first faster-than-light spacecraft will be *designed* and built in space.
Design is an important aspect. A FIRST ORDER civilization will locate many of its advanced industries in orbit or further away to take advantage of
things like zero-g and vacuum and privacy, and if Average Joe's work in space, they'll live in space too. You're going to have power systems that
are far too risky to experiment with near Earth. Now what I've just described is really a FIRST ORDER intelligence getting a foothold on SECOND
There is actually an upper limit to how fast you can go with your "basic" FTL propulsion, and it's not Warp 10. It has to do with the fact that
space is "cluttered" and non-uniform and consequently the speed limit varies from region to region. It also means there are places in the galaxy you
just can't go using this technology. A map of the galaxy would be drawn in terms of rifts and mazes not unlike rivers and seas on a map of Earth.
Regardless, the peak of SECOND ORDER technology would allow you to explore a significant portion of the galaxy. The ability to establish colonies
depends on the availability, occupation of, and resistance of the occupation of Earth-like planets. Unlike FIRST ORDER intelligences who know they're
alone in their home star system, SECOND ORDER intelligences face diplomatic challenges and inevitable hostilities. This does not imply evil aliens.
Hostility is simply the product of one individual or civilization being unwilling to make the effort to understand another, compromise, or share.
Things we all learn in kindergarten and forget in Ego School.
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[edit on 11-4-2007 by sanctum]