A Technological Epoch or Tech Epoch is a sequence of tech levels to which a society has attached some cultural importance. The most widely used system assigns tech levels in groups of three, assigning a name to each for better historical relevance. There exist other epoch periodization schemes which assign groups of TLs in groups of two to six, sometimes varying in number between the groupings. Given the nature of technological advancements, the border between each epoch is subject to controversy.
Technological Epochs are one method used by sophontologists to analyze a civilization.
The IISS and other groups assigning technology levels to worlds or cultures and equipment avoid the use of technological periods, preferring to assign specific technology levels and using a detailed technology profile. Sophontologists use a combination of Epoch and technology profiles to describe cultures under study. Historians use Epochs to compare societal advancements over history, though there is no broad agreement as to which Epochs are the standards.
The current set of divisions for Technological Epochs, and their names, are as follows:
- TL:1-3 Tool Making Epoch
- TL:4-6 Division of Labor Epoch
- TL:7-9 Processor Epoch
- TL:10-12 Gravitics Epoch
- TL:13-15 Biologicals Epoch
- TL:16-18 Artificials Epoch
- TL:19-21 Matter Transport Epoch
- TL:22-24 Transformations Epoch
- TL:25-27 Psionics Epoch
- TL:28-30 Trans-galactic Epoch
- TL:31-33 Pocket Universe Epoch
IISS Chronological Periodization
- Technological Age (1 TL) → Technological Epoch (3 TLs) → Technological Period (9 TLs) → Technological Era/ Technological Eon → Post-Technological Period
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- Post-Technological Period
Tech Epochs are one method used by sophontologists to analyze a civilization.
- Environmental mastery leads to urbanization and the development of more and more sophisticated devices and vehicles. As the environment is mastered, and scientific knowledge is fostered, more capable communication and energy management technologies are developed.
- For example, human mastery of the Three Prime Technologies leads to an interstellar society with time. However, other sophont societies may learn technology at different speeds, and may never leave the first stage of development. Any tech level can be a technological ceiling for a civilization.
- It seems that reaching TL-9 is no guarantee for developing the jump drive. An advanced TL-9 society theoretically can grow into an interstellar society, but in reality it does not appear to happen at all, except in the cases of the Major Races.
Some sophonts measure tech epochs by an ending event: a technological revolution that upsets the status quo. Additional events like this might occur at the end of each tech epoch, creating even more significant paradigmatic change.
|Epoch Hallmark||Sophontic Period||Smelchakian Period||Key Indicators||Remarks|
|TL-Negative||Pre-Sophontic Period||Pre-Sophontic Period||Pre-Sophontic||Pre-Sophontic Period||Pre-Historic Period (PHP)||The Rise of Life. Creatures. Pre-technology lifeforms.|
|TL-0||Proto-Sophontic Period||Found Tools Period||Proto-Sophontic||Proto-Sophontic Period
|Stone & Fire||Development of a ur or proto level culture, society, and civilization. Found objects. Before tools making tools.|
|TL:1-3||Vlow Tech Epoch||Tool Making Epoch||Early Sophontic||Foundational Period, Early||Sail & Steam||Development of a modern scientific culture, society, and civilization. Made objects. Tools making tools.|
|TL:4-6||Low Tech Epoch||Division of Labor Epoch||Early Sophontic||Foundational Period, High||Atom & Factory||Development of increasingly efficient communication, power generation, and transportation technologies. Standardization of scientific method and efficient manufacturing.|
|TL:7-9||Mid Tech Epoch||Processor Epoch||Early Sophontic||Foundational Period, Late||Rocket & Computer||Development of advanced processors allowing for an exponential increase in scientific research and engineering breakthroughs.|
|TL:10-12||High Tech Epoch||Gravitics Epoch||Meso-Sophontic||Interstellar Period, Early||Jump Drive & Gravitics||Practical gravity manipulation and its associated transportation systems revolutionize travel and the movement of goods. The Jump Drive opens up interstellar colonization and exploration to a degree never before known.|
|TL:13-15||Vhigh Tech Epoch||Biologicals Epoch||Meso-Sophontic||Interstellar Period, High||Geneering & Wafertech||The High Interstellar Epoch brings about increasingly capable jump drives, fusion weapons, cloning & geneering technologies, and advanced robot intelligences that are bordering upon true artificial intelligence.|
|TL:16-18||Xhigh Tech Epoch||Artificials Epoch||Meso-Sophontic||Interstellar Period, Late||Robots & Lethetic AI||The Late Interstellar Epoch brings about increasingly capable artificial intelligence, affordable robotic labor, and increasingly advanced FTL jump drives.|
|TL:19-21||Uhigh-1 Tech Epoch||Matter Transport Epoch||Late Sophontic||Ultra Period, Early||Antimatter & Matter Transport||The availability of elemental matter portals (transporting raw materials across AU distances efficiently) transforms concepts of physical value. The Skip Drive and it successors allows sophonts to finally explore other galaxies.|
|TL:22-24||Uhigh-2 Tech Epoch||Transformations Epoch||Late Sophontic||Ultra Period, High||Postsophontism & Goo||The lines between individuals blur as bodies become customizable, replaceable, and disposable. Post-Sophontism (individualized transformation) and the development of practical nanotech, often called the “Goo.”|
|TL:25-27||Uhigh-3 Tech Epoch||Psionics Epoch||Late Sophontic||Ultra Period, Late||Psionic Engineering & Inertialess Drive||Psionic engineering, practical societal engineering, effective psychohistory and others now allow not only individuals to be transformed, but entire societies and civilizations.|
|TL:28-30||Dei Tech Epoch||Trans-galactic Epoch||Hyper-Sophontic Epoch||Astrodeific Period||Galactic Scale Megastructures & Topopolises||Technology develops capabilities to manipulate worlds and stars: to move them, harvest them for their matter and energy, and convert them to other large scale objects. The ability to visit other universes changes society profoundly. Entirely different astronomical environments engenders new viewpoints.|
|TL:31-33||Omni Tech Epoch||Pocket Universe Epoch||Trans-Sophontic Epoch||Omnipotential Period
|Chronotaxis & Transuniversalism.||The ability to create and manipulate pocket universes infinitely expands available resources and turns all but the most adventurous inward. Time travel heralds the Singularity. Technological existence is forever transformed. Multiple possible existences motivates sophonts to seek existence beyond technology.|
|TL-34+||The Singularity||PTP||Post-Sophontic||(Post-Omega Period)||The Singularity & PTP.||Society reaches a critical point in its development. Beyond imagination. Beyond technology. Beyond any previous definition of life.|
In the highly diverse section of the galaxy known as Charted Space, a very wide variety of technological civilizations exist and often coexist, which means that metrics and protocols had to be developed not only for surveyors and scouts, but also for merchant princes, explorers, and sophontologists... among others. Rough guidelines exist for every TL, but alien civilizations have a way of exceeding or defying benchmarks, so the much rougher Technological Epoch designation was invented by the IISS. It encompasses three TLs spanning a very wide period of development making classification much easier, especially after a first contact scenario when little might be known about a new sophont society.
So, for instance, a very early technology civilization containing technological benchmarks from TL-1, TL-2, and TL-3 capabilities, would be known as a TL:1-3 society. The epochs are grouped into batches of three and when a society contains a higher benchmark than a set grouping, the higher tech epoch is defaulted to. For instance a society that might intitially be judged as a TL:1-3 society is observed to have TL-4 technologies, so it would then be reclassified as a TL:4-6 society, or simply a TL-4 society if higher technologies (...TL-5 or TL-6) were not judged to be present.
It is a flexible and inexact measure of technological development.
Standard Polity Growth Sequence
- Proto-Society → Band Society → Tribal Society or Chiefdom → City-State → Nation-State → World-State → Pocket Empire → Interstellar State → Intergalactic State → Final State → Singularity
- Creature Existence
- Sophontic Civilization
- Ascendant Civilization
- Transcendent Civilization
|1.||Pre-existence||TL-Negative||A-life||Not much is known about the origin of life, which is conjectured to be abiogenesis, or life arising from where there was none. In this environment, no conventional life is theorized to have existed, but A-life, or pseudo life, is thought to have pre-existed conventional life.|
|2.||Creature Existence||TL-Negative||Primordial Soup||The first life is thought to have been exceedingly simple, probably acellular, pre-DNA, and almost unnoticeable. But it was conventional life, and later life built upon it. More sophisticated life evolved from these humble origins into sophisticated multicellular creatures. However, these creatures lack higher intelligence, civilization, and technology.|
|3.||Proto-civilization||TL-0||Proto-Society||The very first creatures to evolve multiple hallmarks of sophonce become known as Proto-sophonts, and they develop Proto-civilizations, recognizable by later sophonts as early societies with basic but fundamental technology. Proto-sophonts are classified as: TL–0.|
|4.||Sophontic Civilization||TL:1-27||Band Society → Tribal Society or Chiefdom → City-State → Nation-State → World-State → Pocket Empire → Interstellar State → Intergalactic State||Sophonts are sophisticated, highly intelligent technology-using species. They develop advanced technologies, cultures, societies, and civilizations. They actively seek to master themselves and their environment. They use a variety of technologies: (TL-1 to 27).|
|5.||Transcendent Civilization||TL:28-30||Final State||Transcendents have begun the transition to the Singularity. They control advanced technologies (TL-28 to 30) and have cultures and societies paradigmatically different from less advanced sophonts. Many such societies begin to explore alternate dimensions and pocket universes.|
|6.||Ascendant Civilization||TL:31-33||Final State||Ascendants are working towards an active transition to the Singularity. They control the most sophisticated technologies imagined by sophontdom (TL-31 to 33). In nearly every practical way but not in every effect, they have achieved omnipotence. The key technologies defining transcendents are temporal technology, reality manipulation, chronotaxis (time travel), and manipulation of time itself. Their powers are near limitless. Some lesser sophont species call them "space gods." They have goals and motivations near incomprehensible to less advanced beings.|
|7.||Singularity||TL:34+ Post-Technological Period (PTP)||Singularity||The Singularity is a very nebulous term for both black holes and a hypothetical condition of life beyond technology, civilization, and life itself as confusing as that may sound. Some call it the afterlife while others call it the Post-Technological Period. Some even think that it is a future stage of life when sophont and machine merge. There is scant evidence for it, but many thinkers hypothesize that it exists.|
- Technological Research
- Technological Systemics