Monday, October 18, 2010

Tech Level and Population

There is a direct relationship between a culture's tech level and the available population needed to sustain it. That population needn't be politically or culturally part of the culture, but must be part of that culture's trading sphere - witness Singapore in the current era. Here are the relationships:

TL Age Population Required

0 Paleolithic Tens
1 Neolithic Hundreds
2 Ancient Thousands
3 Medieval Tens of Thousands
4 Renaissance Hundreds of Thousands
5 Steam Millions
6 Diesel Tens of Millions
7 Computer Hundreds of Millions
8 Fusion Billions
9 M/AM* Tens of Billions
10 FTL Hundreds of Billions


Population is not the only criterion for maintaining a Tech Lavel - you need appropriate materials, knowledge, and transportation available as well - but this ingredient is perhaps less obvious than the others.



  1. Of course ad higher tech levels, couldn't one reach a point where a balance is achieved? Between size of a civilization and its tech level? A stasis to protect resources?

  2. Well, stasis would be the wrong approach. A culture is a living thing. Stasis is only found in death. What I think would be preferable is changing from a parasitic relationship with our world to a symbiotic one, where we give back to the world at least as much as we take.

    The human cultures of the Cluster have very definitely *had* to learn better resource management. The fastest of the Diasporan slowboats spent 1200 years in space, with no input into their ecosystems. Any losses had to be made up from a small stock of spares. Everything had to be recycled many times. This would put a stamp on a culture! Ecosystem and resource management have to be fixed into their cultural bedrock in a way we cannot comprehend.

    The spaceborne culture of the old solar system was where these total recycling principles were worked out. They had to be! The initial settlement was probably done with technology not much better than today's. Any spaceborne culture has to be vitally concerned with sound ecosystem management by definition.


  3. Stasis was probably the wrong word.
    Still, a balance is desirable, and they may not need huge numbers at certain tech levels.