The Perils of Reaching for the Stars: Unpacking the Risks and Dangers of Aspiring to Become a Type 3 Civilization


What if we travel to the space future of humanity?

Let’s Take a Ride on super fast machines around the solar system that’s now turned into our backyard and then head for other stars.

In this future, millions of exotic planets will become both our new homes and ports for a Type 3 civilization on the Kardashev scale, a utopian world of Galactic proportions that has astronomically slim chances of ever coming true.

Researchers and science fiction writers unanimously think there is this.

Humankind finds the courage to explore outer space.

People have to face a lot of unexpected problems and dangers.

Each of them may be enough to put an end to our Interstellar expansion and maybe even to humans as a species.

That’s why today, with the help of Science and the best Sci-fi World, we’re gonna pay a visit to the real space future of the human race.

Let’s find out what exactly will go wrong up there, far away from our planet.

Space Travel

Foreign distances are so huge that our expansion may end almost before it begins.

At the moment, Nasa’s quickest spacecraft is the Parker solar probe, which has accelerated to record 192 kilometers per second.

It would need just a bit more than half an hour to reach the moon in impressive, isn’t it?

However, if you board an identical ship and head towards our closest neighbor, the Alpha Centauri star system, located 4.3 light years away from Earth.

This trip will take more than 6 700 years.

I know what you’re thinking: cryogenic sleep.

Unfortunately, scientists have yet to find a way to bring Frozen human bodies back to life.

That’s why Engineers don’t even consider cryonics.

Instead of this, the European space agency has come up with the Hyperion project, designed for space colonization.

This is the so-called Generation ship, or rather an arc able to carry 40 000 people.

That’s exactly how many humans are necessary to guarantee our Survival on a very long journey.

According to scientific research, for thousands of years, Travelers will be born and then die inside this spacecraft, meaning that only very distant relatives of those who once embarked on the ship will arrive in the new world.

Just imagine being part of one of the intermediate Generations.

You’ve never seen Earth and you’ll never get to see the Final Destination either.

Perhaps this feeling will prompt you to do what characters from Orphans of the sky did in the iconic novel by Robert Heinlei.

Countless years of cruising in space drove the passengers aboard the Generation ship to despair, which eventually sparked off a riot.

As a result, their descendants forgot about her and had no idea why they were living on a moving spaceship.

This kind of Hell is waiting for us if we decide to travel to the nearest Stars, let alone far away places.

To stop their Sci-fi novels from slipping into horror stories, authors created the concept of hyperspace that lets characters travel faster than light.

In Foundation, the classic book series by Isaac Asimov, this technology of jumping through hyperspace was the main factor that helped Humanity explore the entire galaxy.

Man build a space Empire, Hop aboard a Starship in a joint traveling across a thousand light years within moments.

Although this Space Opera trick has nothing to do with actual science.

Albert Einstein and his followers named only two options for bypassing the speed of light limit, at least in Theory.

They are warping of space-time, if we speak about Ultra fast flights, and wormholes if we speak about instantaneous travel.

But will this really solve the problem, and let us expand faster.

Developers of Eve online, a Sci-Fi strategy game, Incorporated both of these Technologies in the world they built according to the plot.

Humans invented them after colonizing the solar system.

Just like Nasa’s famous prototype, the warp engine from the eve Universe creates a special vacuum around a spacecraft where the speed of light is Limitless, even though it comes with some strings attached.

It allows pilots to accelerate up to 30 astronomical units per second, which means 15 000 times faster than light.

This is unfathomably fast.

It’ll take you one second to get from Earth to Pluto and only two and a half hours to reach Alpha Centauri.

You won’t even have enough time to experience existential horror.

Only watch some streaming movie or a show at the same time.

For most Interstellar Journeys, humans living in the eve Universe world use the controlled wormholes created by exploiting gravitational resonances.

Long story short, you can leap to another star system in a matter of seconds.

So far, it’s all fantasy, but generally speaking, such infrastructure doesn’t look unrealistic.

However, breaking the speed of light is just a setup for facing more significant problems on the path of a Galactic Civilization.

Interstellar Burnout

The countdown to Interstellar burnout will begin when you leave your Starship and step on another planet, and that’s not a creative metaphor, that’s a scientific term.

In the spring of 2022, Michael Wong and astrobiologist and Big Star Trek fan teamed up with Stuart Bartlett and created a mathematical model of a civilization that began space expansion.

At first, everything goes as planned, but pretty soon there appears an unavoidable crisis that may render all efforts useless.

In the expanse, a series of novels by James Corey and their screen adaptation.

The Turning Point came after colonizing Mars.

In late 22nd century, Mars settlers grew sick of the despotic government of Earth, just like, back in the 18th century, American colonists were fed up with the attitude of the British crown.

The conflict nearly led to a war, threatening to delay lay human expansion into space for a very long time, when suddenly Martian Engineers Solomon Epstein- invented a new high power space Drive.

Mars traded this Innovation for independence from Earth, so humankind continued exploring the solar system.

This absolutely fantastic course of events is surprisingly consistent with Wong and Bartlett’s conclusions.

To overcome the inevitable crisis, whatever turn it takes, we need a certain Innovation that would let people keep expanding, but the next Crisis won’t keep them waiting in the expanse.

The Epstein Drive allowed humans and martians to colonize an asteroid belt in the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.

But don’t rush to buy a summer house on Callisto.

You’re not welcome there.

Inhabitants of our Solar System’s outskirts consider themselves a separate nation, the so-called belters.

Having flawed some fast, maneuverable spaceships equipped with the Epstein drives, they started successfully destroying fleets of Earth and Mars.

Do you see what happened here in Eve?

Online warp drives and Stargates allowed people to discover hundreds of other worlds around our solar system.

The problem is that colonization required enormous resources.

Only big corporations had at their disposal.

Even at this stage, when we’re taking the first steps towards space, there’s intense rivalry between government agencies like Nasa and projects funded by ambitious billionaires.

At first, this is a useful Innovation, but do you realize what it means if we really start populating galaxies?

When work disruption jumps couldn’t take settlers any deeper into new star systems, the corporations started fighting over what they’d managed to conquer.

A dream contract that promised you a peaceful space explore operation would turn you into a soldier in a brutal Interstellar War.

The struggle for dominance pulled the plug on all future expansion.

According To Wong and Bartlett, this is a universal pattern.

Each Innovation that helps to resolve an initial crisis, whether it’s a revolutionary drive or an economic model of space exploration, eventually triggers the second, even worse crisis.

This time, it impedes the emergence of a new innovation when humans need not just a step, but a giant leap forward.

Both in the expanse and Eve online universes, people didn’t make progress on their own.

It was achieved only because of outside factors.

In the expanse, those were the Rings portals-

Too many new star systems.

In Eve online.

It was a natural Wormhole leading to a distant, uninhabited space cluster.

Wong and Bartlett believe this is another Innovation form that made for further expansion possible.

Colony fleets immediately headed towards new Eden and all grudges were totally forgotten.

But don’t be too quick to board the first Starship.

You see, if you do forget about Paradise among stars is, before you know it you’ll have to face the ultimate crisis.

Each phase of the cycle leaves the civilization less and less time to develop an innovation.

That’s why, sooner or later, it will simply failed to do anything.

This is what Interstellar burnout actually is, and according to Wong and Bartlett’s model, it’s mathematically impossible to avoid it.

And even though the scientists don’t exclude the possibility of some ultimate Innovation saving humankind and transforming it into a Type 3 civilization on the Kardashev scale, in most cases we’re destined to lose everything anyway.

Is it the end of the space era you wish?

The Dark Ages

After experiencing burnout, Interstellar civilization will Plunge Into the Dark Ages.

What does that mean?

Depends on what humans managed to accomplish by the moment the imminent collapse arrives.

The Galactic Empire from Isaac Asimov’s Foundation included 25 million habitable worlds, and all of them were managed from one single planet named trantor, which lies in the very center of the Galaxy.

In fact, it was one big Imperial residence with billions of employees performing administrative tasks.

You wouldn’t mind being one of the rulers with so much power.

Would you just remember that traffic is absolutely horrible on Tran tour and you left order food from other planets?

Professor Harry Selden found another problem, though.

Having concentrated old Power on one planet, this type 3 civilization became highly vulnerable to War crises.

At some point, the rebel Fleet blockaded trantor, making its Elite neighborhoods instantly turn into a Hunger Games Arena.

Even if you survive amidst this chaos, you’re doomed to watch the painful downfall of your civilization, torn by Fierce Wars for money and power.

And yet the Dark Ages in space will bring not only a never-ending Bloodshed.

Azimov openly admitted that he’d taken the Roman Empire as a basis of the galactic world in his books.

In 467 AD, Rome fell to Barbarian tribes and lots of ITS Technologies disappeared forever, starting with beautiful glazed Ceramics to aqueducts supplying water to cities, not to mention smooth, even Roads connecting them.

But the main thing that the Dark Ages on Earth took away from us was how to make concrete.

It was reinvented only in the 19th Century.

Before that, for almost 1500 years, the human potential couldn’t get any further than building separate landmarks out of regular Stone.

And if this is what the collapse of an ancient empire led to, can you imagine the Dreadful extent of technological regress that will occur when Interstellar civilization crumbles?

In the foundation Universe, Barbarian kingdoms existing on the ruins of the Galactic Empire lost even nuke technology, although considering their ruthlessness, that’s rather a good thing.

In the Hyperion cantos, a book series by Dan Simmons, Interstellar civilization was much more modest.

The hegemony of man covered only 200 populated worlds that didn’t even have a Unified Government.

Moreover, this civilization entirely depended on the far Caster Network, allowing instantaneous travel between connected Worlds.

The moment an enemy attack destroyed it, the hegemony was done for such an infrastructure.

Collapse of an Interstellar civilization will surely bring economic collabs with food shortages and the lack of basic amenities, but not exclusively that, and this would be the worst side of the Dark Ages.

Do you remember that mysterious wormhole in Eve online that let humans colonize a cluster of stars named new Eden?

So One Fine Day, on February 20th 8061, this gate suddenly ceased to exist, without the possibility of bringing resources from Earth.

The terraforming of dozens of Worlds stopped soon after it began.

A resemblance of life in any of those worlds would be soon snuffed out with thirst, hunger and Suffocation.

The Wormhole collapse also disabled the whole infrastructure of Stargates between systems.

In the sad history of the Hyperion, kentos has repeated itself.

In a blink of an eye, humans living in distant space turned into survivors separated from each other by many light years.

But if people are patient enough, they’ll eventually rebuild the former civilization, wouldn’t they?

Unfortunately, it’s not going to be the same.

The colonizers from new Eden have just witnessed the Wormhole collapse.

What if they’re given 12 000 years after all?

As centuries went by, our ancestors on Earth Advanced from from tribes of hunters to an industrial society.

But on planet anthra, after all these ages, you’ll find slaves tirelessly cultivating fields for the royalty, whose members consider themselves relatives of God and wage cruel Wars in his name.

Some crazy mishmash of the Crusades in the Roman Empire.

This civilization just redeveloped spaceships, and if you have the guts to say that such an archaic Society can’t properly explore space, you’ll end up burned at the stake.

For this heresy, let’s fast forward past another three thousand years.

The Theocratic Amar Empire now owns 40 percent of new Eden’s habitable worlds.

Here’s a very Inconvenient Truth.

Democracies can be as successful as they aspire to be in relatively safe and thriving environment, but as soon as people are deprived of fundamental Technologies and pushed to the edge of survival and isolation, and they’ll undoubtedly reproduce the worst models of society from our planet’s history, just because they are workable too, the Dark Ages in space will create unique conditions for outdated monarchies, archaic religions and any ruthless social practices, letting them resurface on even larger scales.

But if you think technological and civil degradation is the most terrible outcome for people, I’ve got bad news for you.

Cold Infinite Space

Suffering extreme hardship in cold Infinite Space.

It’s very easy to forget the essence of what makes us human.

In their famous article dedicated to crises, Wong and Bartlett say that Interstellar civilization has one single chance to save itself.

This is the so-called Awakening.

A civilization must realize that the catastrophe of burnout is imminent and stop expanding into space before the ultimate crisis forces them to.

But what do we do next?

According To Wong and Bartlett, we should shift our priorities and focus on expanding into other dimensions.

It’s easy to mistake this for a cold open gates to parallel worlds, but the scholars actually mean other dimensions of our civilization.

In 2012, futurist John Smart assumed that people may experience such Awakening right after the first attempts to colonize other star systems and choose a different and path.

Transcendence, yeah, just like in the movie with the same title, where Johnny Depp’s character uploaded his mind into a computer.

Why do we need to waste enormous resources on colonization and terraforming when we can just move to a comfortable virtual world instead?

Science fiction authors mention a lot of similar races in their works, for instance the sleepers from Eve online.

Nobody knows what they see in their Digital Dreams.

Perhaps they even turn themselves into a virtual type 3 civilization on the Kardashev scale.

The Matrix in outer space sounds really cool.

Although, apart from the apparent dangers of diving into this illusory world, there’s the main and most disturbing question.

Movie Makers raised it in Transcendence as well.

Real digitalized Minds remain human or will it transform into an alien creature?

We’ve never met with Prime motives we don’t understand, but actually moving to live in a virtual Dimension isn’t the only decision that could jeopardize our human Essence.

Imagine peeking through a Starship porthole and suddenly seeing this Eerie humanoids with wings surrounded the spacecraft from all sides.

The next moment you hear a loud rattle behind your back in a naturally lanky astronaut with an iron tail sneaked into the passageway.

What is it?

An alien invasion?


That’s what distant descendants of people called the Ousters look like in Dan Simmons Hyperion cantos.

With the help of genetic engineers and implants, they adapted to life in zero gravity and even outer space.

Their wings are solar panels, just like those built into our satellites.

The Ousters withdrew from expansion to earth-like planets since they could live literally anywhere in the universe.

But having moved to another evolutionary Dimension, these creatures stop being people and in the Hyperion cantos they openly confronted humankind.

The Ousters have so little in common with us that Dan Simmons could have presented them as aliens, and it wouldn’t have made any difference in Eve online.

A race known as the jovar, defined by a similar history of aggressive self-modification, which eventually cursed them with an incurable genetic disease.

Their palate appearance, abandonment of most emotions and inability to reproduce naturally have led many in new Eden to view them as almost alien.

Still, no matter how much the job evolved themselves, they remain inescapably human, shown best by their characteristically ruthless and indomitable will to achieve whatever goals they have in mind.

This transhuman race also contributed to the rise of the capsuleers.

This is actually a player character within the universe, an immortal mind that switches between bodies of clones while piloting different ships and fighting battles.

Capsuleers can’t die for good.

They just switch on and on sounds very practical, but can we really call it a human?

And what about the triglavians?

Another form of distant descendants of people known for their swarm intelligence- but probably the most classic example of losing human identity is a result of challenging space expansion- can be found in the legendary Sci-fi Saga by Frank Herbert Dune.

In its screen adaptation directed by Denievia Nuv, you could see the way mentats operate who, basically speaking, are human computers.

This eye trick looks freaky, but at least it wouldn’t kill you.

Like those thinking machines from the same universe, mentats are just harmless forms of modified humans.

I bet you already look forward to seeing the Love Story unfold between Timothy chalamet and Zendaya and the sequel.

I mean between their characters, of course, Paul Atreides and Johnny.

If Denny, via news, stays faithful to the books, we’ll see not only the couple’s passionate romance but also its result.

Meet Paul and Shawnee’s Son, better known as God Emperor Lito Trades Ii.

He deliberately combined his body with sand worm larvae to be mortal and single-handedly rule the Galactic Empire.

Just imagine that you and your descendants live in submission to this creature for dozens of centuries and worship it like a God.

The Paradox is that it’s superhuman abilities eventually helped to save humans of Dune from Extinction and, on top of that, to start a new wave of expansion into unknown Worlds.

The price is high, but still all of this points to an unexpected conclusion.

Perhaps The Innovation that will let humankind avoid burnout and at last turn into a Type 3 civilization on the Kardashev scale isn’t some kind of Technology at all.

Maybe it’s changing our modern perspective on the process of interstellar expansion.

The truth is, any civilization migrating from one little planet to the depths of the galaxies bound to change beyond recognition.

Humankind just can’t being the same away from Earth, while severe conditions of space will produce, to put it mildly, not the most Progressive societies constantly fighting for survival.

It will definitely have to sacrifice our own biology for the sake of colonizing space.

But what if we quit fearing all those things and start revealing them as a necessary transitive process?

Just let’s be honest: no matter how we try to avoid Wars, they will definitely spark between new human cultures divided by Cosmic voice and hungry for resources.

These conflicts will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen: epic Space Battles spanning many Star systems and possibly raging on for thousands of years.

But in the end, when we finally reach type 3, who will ultimately care?

Our own civilization doesn’t view Wars of the Roman Empire’s tragedies more like captivating historical tales and necessary prerequisites to our own existence.

So if you’d really like to see the cherished interplanetary Utopia, maybe it’s not that bad to turn into an immortal clone for a couple of centuries and dive in this cruel and wonderful future among stars.

Thank you.

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