Bitcoin: the Catalyst that Accelerates Us to Type 1 Civilization

1. Background

In near infinitely vast cosmic scope, human civilization is indeed very young. We as earthlings are indulged in neverending pursuit of material needs while advancing our civilization, but do we have a way to gauge how advenced our civilization is? What is the potential of mankind and how far can we go?

In 1964, a Russian astronomer, Kardashev proposed a method of measuring a civilization's level of technological advancement based on the amount of energy they are able to utilize. Futurists and Scientists have since modified the original three types to various versions with different definitions. The most concise one is described below.
  • Type 0 - From primitive hunting lifestyle to partial usage of home planetary energy such as wood or fossil fuel fire, this type is the beginning of a civilization. Population ranged from a few thousands to a few billions, energy consumption is between 10^6 to 10^15 W, with cities scattered around coastal area. Obviously all inhabitants' activities are constrained on their planet only.
  • Type I - Complete mastery of harvesting home planetary energy, including earth quake, volcano and other natural forces. Typical population reaches 10^10 with efficient energy consumption of around 10^16 W or more. At advanced stage, the whole planet is a megacity with very convenient transportation and communication means. Some of their activities are carried out at inter-planetary space.
  • Type II - The civilization builds Dyson Sphere or Swarm or Rings to harvest their home star energy in the forms of radiation, magnetic field and flare. As their population spreads around the whole planetary system in colonies of various sizes, it could reach 10^20 inhabitants with typical energy consumption of 10^26 W, hence the dyson megastructures as their home planetary energy sources are not enough to support all the activities, which are carried out within the planetary system.

  • Type III - their technology is so advanced that megastructures other than those being built by Type II are constructed to harness energy from not just normal stars but also exotic stars such as white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes. With energy consumption reaching 10^36 W, their population could touch 10^30 with colonies in various forms residing within their home galaxy. At this stage, they shall have mastered faster-than-light travel and communication means.

We are at Type 0 civilization now, and on our way to Type I. This is significant not just for us, may be for the whole Universe as well. As Fermi paradox dictates, we may be the only intelligent life form in this immensely huge space with millions of web of galaxy clusters, it's our responsility and our birthright to advance, to explore and to seek the truth.

2. Existing World Energy Scenario

Our current energy sources can be divided into two categories:

Non-renewable source
  • Fossil fuels (coal, natural gas & oil) - this makes up 64% of existing energy source. To get to the fossil fuel and convert it to use, there has to be heavy destruction and pollution of the environment. The fossil fuel reserves are also limited, it will only last another few decades at current consumption rate.
  • Nuclear power - 10% of world energy source is from this. It is created through a specific nuclear reaction, which is then collected and used to power generators. While almost every country has nuclear generators, there are moratoriums on their use or construction as scientists try to resolve safety and disposal issues of waste.
Renewable source
  • Hydroelectric energy - 16% out of total world energy source. Every time you see a major dam, it is providing hydropower to an electrical station somewhere. The power of the water is used to turn generators to produce the electricity that is then used. 
  • Wind energy - Even at just 5% market share, the new innovations that are allowing wind farms to appear are making them a more common sight in energy landscape. By using large turbines to take available wind as the power to turn, the turbine can then turn a generator to produce electricity. 
  • Biomass energy - Its utilization contributes to 3% of world energy needs. Biomass generally includes crops, plants, trees, yard clippings, wood chips and animal wastes. Chlorophyll present in plants captures the sun’s energy by converting carbon dioxide from the air and water from the ground into carbohydrates through the process of photosynthesis. When the plants are burned, the water and carbon dioxide is again released back into the atmosphere.
  • Solar energy - This is the most under utilized energy source with a mere 2% contribution to total energy consumption, considering how much sunlight hits the Earth every second. It harvests the energy of the sun by using collector panels to create conditions that can then be turned into power. Large solar panel fields are often used in desert to gather enough power to charge small substations, and many homes use solar systems to provide for hot water, cooling and supplement their electricity. 
  • Geothermal energy - This one is very much under utilized as well at only 1% market share. High temperature is produced continuously inside the earth from decay of radioactive particles and spinning of the Earth. Hot rocks present below the earth crust boils the water into superheated steam. The steam is then captured that moves the turbines which then power the generators.























Chart 1: World energy consumption by energy source (1990-2040)

We consumed energy at a rate of 2 x 10^13 W in 2018, but if we crawl at the latest EIA world energy usage growth rate projection of just 1% p.a. (refer to Chart 1), it will take us 625 years to reach 10^16 W a.k.a. energy level for Type I civilization. We need booster.

3. How Does Bitcoin Help?

Bitcoin miners use special software to solve math problems and are issued a certain number of bitcoins in exchange. This provides a smart way to issue the currency and also creates an incentive for more people to mine. Bitcoin miners help keep the Bitcoin network secure by approving transactions. Mining is an important and integral part of Bitcoin that ensures fairness while keeping the Bitcoin network stable, safe and secure. Please refer to here for more details.





















Chart 2: Annual Bitcoin mining and transaction energy needs

The math problems' difficulty is regularly adjusted by Bitcoin protocol to ensure that all miners in the network will only produce one valid block every 10 minutes on average. As more miners join in with more powerful machines, energy consumption rises as a result.

Even so, current Bitcoin power consumption is only around 75 TWh / 8760 hrs = 8.56 x 10^9 W (refer to Chart 2), accounting for 0.043% of world energy consumption. However, with Bitcoin price rally, chip makers will produce more and more powerful machines for miners as difficulty increases; besides, miner numbers will rise too. Both factors will contribute to much faster energy needs for Bitcoin network. How does it benefit or even accelerate our endeavor towards Type I civilization?

There are at least three benefits from Bitcoin mining:

Adoption of more renewable energy 

  • According to a ccn report, 74% of Bitcoin mining activities use renewable energy.  Countries with more exposure to sunlight, wind, etc will be prone to develop these natural forces into energy when they join the army of miners.
  • As pointed out by visualcapitalist, we have barely scratched the surface of renewable energy potential, refer to the table below. Bitcoin's energy hungry and lucrative mining operation will propel people to think of ways to make more use of these energy sources.
Table 1: Renewable Energy Potential Output vs Current Utilization

More effcient utilization of existing energy sources
  • Countries will be forced to be creative to increase energy efficiency to maximize mining profit, especially for nations with limited natural resources. Oil producers by-products are usually burnt as waste gas; but some companies are now exploring the ideas of turning this into producing Bitcoin. All these will push the world to achieve EWS of 3% p.a. as stipulated by Chart 3.














Chart 3: World Energy Usage Efficiency

Explore new energy sources
  • Type I civilization could control and make use of the massive energy released by nuclear fusion and natural forces such as weather, earth crust tectonic movement, volcano, oceans, etc. With Bitcoin as incentive, miners and energy providers, together with scientists, will go further miles to explore these exotic energy sources which is unimaginable before.
  • For that to happen, new and more advanced technologies have to be developed. For example, a Harvard scientist has conceived of a humidity power generator to harness the energy of the atmosphere which generates hurricanes and tornadoes. More such interesting ideas will come around when people are focused on harnessing energy on their home planet.

4. Conclusion

We owe our future generations a better world to live in. Without Bitcoin, it may take us another few centuries to reach Type I Civilization. However, thanks to its mining activities, Bitcoin accelerates the whole process. Our great grandchildren will be grateful to Bitcoin, and to our efforts. In short, skeptics and critics alike should support Bitcoin for our collective betterment as a species.

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