An Ever Shrinking Planet

The world was once a vast place to live, taking weeks and longer to travel from one continent to another. When the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery left London to establish Jamestown, they took a circuitous route to guarantee favorable wind conditions and the trip took 144 days. 144 days to travel from London to Virginia! Today you manage a journey between the two in just over 8 hours. By the 1700s, journeys across the Atlantic took between 8 and 12 weeks. Since mail was transferred on the same ships that carried people, a letter sent from America to Europe would take at least 8 weeks to arrive. Today I can send an email or text message my friend in Europe and she’d receive it within moments.

Technology has made the world smaller. It is a miniature version of what it once was, figuratively speaking. Because of this, it is far more vital than ever to ensure that we are understanding and knowledgeable about the planet and its inhabitants.

Michio Kaku talks about types of Civilizations: Type I, Type II, and Type III. According to his classifications, Earth is a Type 0 Civilization. According to Kaku, a Type I Civilization is a planetary one which has complete control over its planet. Type II Civilizations have control over stars and Type III over galaxies.

To become a global planet, a Type I planet, we would need to learn to live as a global people. In the above video Kaku claims that “around the year 2100 we will become a Type I civilization.”

In order for this to occur, we need to overcome a great deal as human beings: cultural differences, religious differences, language barriers, etc. Translation technology has been advancing, which can help resolve language barriers. Do we need to adapt a single global language or is translation equipment enough? Can we overcome our cultural differences? Can we eliminate wars based on religion and politics? Are we capable of establishing a global economy?

In many science fiction stories, humans have achieved the advancement into a Type I Civilization. Although, in several, it was only with the help of extraterrestrials that we were capable of such a feat. In Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, it was the monolith which affected human evolution and pushed humanity into a new technological era. In Dawn by Octavia E. Butler, it was the Oankali, an extraterrestrial species that saved the inhabitants of Earth from global extinction, that attempt to push humanity into a new era via genetic merging and modification.

We do not have a monolith on the moon. There is no spacecraft containing a species of symbiotic extraterrestrials orbiting our planet. I’ve yet to see a TARDIS with the Doctor to perfect language translations. Without them, can we learn to coexist on this miniature planet? Will we destroy ourselves before we can advance into a planetary civilization? Can we learn to adapt to the changes that are necessary to evolve into the next version of ourselves?