- Pre-tech lifeform possessing advanced intelligence hallmarks
- Proto-Sophonts use "found tools," but do not yet possess the ability to make tools using other tools. That comes at TL-0.
- It is a sophontigraphic and astrobiological term
There are a number of disputes among sophontologists as to exactly which traits are the hallmarks of higher sophonce. And which technologies must be developed to be widely considered a proper sophont species. They are acquiring internal and external technologies.
Higher Intelligence Hallmarks
Sophonts almost always contain all of the following three hallmarks. Some very intelligent creatures may possess only one or two of these features. Proto-sophonts possess all three, but at fundamental, basic levels:
Cycle of Life & Sophontic Civilization
- A-life → Proto-Life → Creatures → Proto-Sophonts → Sophonts → Transcendents → Ascendants → Singularity
- Proto-Life (transitory stage)
- Proto-Sophonts (transitory stage)
- Transcendents (transitory stage)
The Major Races all possess different attitudes towards what is considered proper conduct towards proto-sophonts. Some like the Hivers look on proto's as children to be cared for and raised to benevolent sophonce, while others such as the K'kree look on proto's as agricultural crops to be weeded and culled to encourage desired characteristics. The Third Imperium stands somewhere in between and officially values proto-sophont lifeforms and civilizations, but then all too often turns a blind eye to the subjugation and oppression of such species.
Some combination of the following fundamental technologies underlie the establishment of the first proto-civilizations, peopled by proto-sophonts:
- Comestible Management (agriculture, fungiculture, livestock husbandry, etc.)
- Governance & philosophy (social organization, leadership, ethics, etc.)
- Hydraulic management (water management, irrigation, etc.)
- Tool creation & use (Technology)
- Materials science (resources, mining, metallurgy, etc.)
Later, more advanced sciences and technologies develop after an emergent proto-civilization becomes successful.
Advanced sciences and technologies are generally grouped into the following categories:
- A formalized method of scientific inquiry.
- Earth (planetary) and Space sciences, including astronomy, cosmology, and geosciences.
- Social sciences, including psychology and sociology.
- Life sciences, including biology and medical technologies.
- Physical sciences, including chemistry and physics.
- Formal sciences, including mathematics and logic.