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Kaitlin Fritz

Kaitlin Fritz

24 days ago

The Entrepreneurial Chicken and Egg

More on Entrepreneurship

Eitan Levy

Eitan Levy

2 months ago

The Top 8 Growth Hacking Techniques for Startups

The Top 8 Growth Hacking Techniques for Startups

These startups, and how they used growth-hack marketing to flourish, are some of the more ethical ones, while others are less so.

Before the 1970 World Cup began, Puma paid footballer Pele $120,000 to tie his shoes. The cameras naturally focused on Pele and his Pumas, causing people to realize that Puma was the top football brand in the world.

Early workers of Uber canceled over 5,000 taxi orders made on competing applications in an effort to financially hurt any of their rivals.

PayPal developed a bot that advertised cheap goods on eBay, purchased them, and paid for them with PayPal, fooling eBay into believing that customers preferred this payment option. Naturally, Paypal became eBay's primary method of payment.

Anyone renting a space on Craigslist had their emails collected by AirBnB, who then urged them to use their service instead. A one-click interface was also created to list immediately on AirBnB from Craigslist.

To entice potential single people looking for love, Tinder developed hundreds of bogus accounts of attractive people. Additionally, for at least a year, users were "accidentally" linked.

Reddit initially created a huge number of phony accounts and forced them all to communicate with one another. It eventually attracted actual users—the real meaning of "fake it 'til you make it"! Additionally, this gave Reddit control over the tone of voice they wanted for their site, which is still present today.

To disrupt the conferences of their main rival, Salesforce recruited fictitious protestors. The founder then took over all of the event's taxis and gave a 45-minute pitch for his startup. No place to hide!

When a wholesaler required a minimum purchase of 10, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wanted a way to purchase only one book from them. A wholesaler would deliver the one book he ordered along with an apology for the other eight books after he discovered a loophole and bought the one book before ordering nine books about lichens. On Amazon, he increased this across all of the users.


Original post available here

Pat Vieljeux

Pat Vieljeux

2 months ago

In 5 minutes, you can tell if a startup will succeed.

Or the “lie to me” method.

I can predict a startup's success in minutes.

Just interview its founder.

Ask "why?"

I question "why" till I sense him.

I need to feel the person I have in front of me. I need to know if he or she can deliver. Startups aren't easy. Without abilities, a brilliant idea will fail.

Good entrepreneurs have these qualities: He's a leader, determined, and resilient.

For me, they can be split in two categories.

The first entrepreneur aspires to live meaningfully. The second wants to get rich. The second is communicative. He wants to wow the crowd. He's motivated by the thought of one day sailing a boat past palm trees and sunny beaches.

What drives the first entrepreneur is evident in his speech, face, and voice. He will not speak about his product. He's (nearly) uninterested. He's not selling anything. He's not a salesman. He wants to succeed. The product is his fuel.

He'll explain his decision. He'll share his motivations. His desire. And he'll use meaningful words.

Paul Ekman has shown that face expressions aren't cultural. His study influenced the American TV series "lie to me" about body language and speech.

Passionate entrepreneurs are obvious. It's palpable. Faking passion is tough. Someone who wants your favor and money will expose his actual motives through his expressions and language.

The good liar will be able to fool you for a while, but not for long if you pay attention to his body language and how he expresses himself.

And also, if you look at his business plan.

His business plan reveals his goals. Read between the lines.

Entrepreneur 1 will focus on his "why", whereas Entrepreneur 2 will focus on the "how".

Entrepreneur 1 will develop a vision-driven culture.

The second, on the other hand, will focus on his EBITDA.

Why is the culture so critical? Because it will allow entrepreneur 1 to develop a solid team that can tackle his problems and trials. His team's "why" will keep them together in tough times.

"Give me a terrific start-up team with a mediocre idea over a weak one any day." Because a great team knows when to pivot and trusts each other. Weak teams fail.” — Bernhard Schroeder

Closings thoughts

Every VC must ask Why. Entrepreneur's motivations. This "why" will create the team's culture. This culture will help the team adjust to any setback.

Greg Lim

Greg Lim

3 months ago

How I made $160,000 from non-fiction books

I've sold over 40,000 non-fiction books on Amazon and made over $160,000 in six years while writing on the side.

I have a full-time job and three young sons; I can't spend 40 hours a week writing. This article describes my journey.

I write mainly tech books:

Thanks to my readers, many wrote positive evaluations. Several are bestsellers.

A few have been adopted by universities as textbooks:

My books' passive income allows me more time with my family.

Knowing I could quit my job and write full time gave me more confidence. And I find purpose in my work (i am in christian ministry).

I'm always eager to write. When work is a dread or something bad happens, writing gives me energy. Writing isn't scary. In fact, I can’t stop myself from writing!

Writing has also established my tech authority. Universities use my books, as I've said. Traditional publishers have asked me to write books.

These mindsets helped me become a successful nonfiction author:

1. You don’t have to be an Authority

Yes, I have computer science experience. But I'm no expert on my topics. Before authoring "Beginning Node.js, Express & MongoDB," my most profitable book, I had no experience with those topics. Node was a new server-side technology for me. Would that stop me from writing a book? It can. I liked learning a new technology. So I read the top three Node books, took the top online courses, and put them into my own book (which makes me know more than 90 percent of people already).

I didn't have to worry about using too much jargon because I was learning as I wrote. An expert forgets a beginner's hardship.

"The fellow learner can aid more than the master since he knows less," says C.S. Lewis. The problem he must explain is recent. The expert has forgotten.”

2. Solve a micro-problem (Niching down)

I didn't set out to write a definitive handbook. I found a market with several challenges and wrote one book. Ex:

3. Piggy Backing Trends

The above topics may still be a competitive market. E.g.  Angular, React.   To stand out, include the latest technologies or trends in your book. Learn iOS 15 instead of iOS programming. Instead of personal finance, what about personal finance with NFTs.

Even though you're a newbie author, your topic is well-known.

4. Publish short books

My books are known for being direct. Many people like this:

Your reader will appreciate you cutting out the fluff and getting to the good stuff. A reader can finish and review your book.

Second, short books are easier to write. Instead of creating a 500-page book for $50 (which few will buy), write a 100-page book that answers a subset of the problem and sell it for less. (You make less, but that's another subject). At least it got published instead of languishing. Less time spent creating a book means less time wasted if it fails. Write a small-bets book portfolio like Daniel Vassallo!

Third, it's $2.99-$9.99 on Amazon (gets 70 percent royalties for ebooks). Anything less receives 35% royalties. $9.99 books have 20,000–30,000 words. If you write more and charge more over $9.99, you get 35% royalties. Why not make it a $9.99 book?

(This is the ebook version.) Paperbacks cost more. Higher royalties allow for higher prices.

5. Validate book idea

Amazon will tell you if your book concept, title, and related phrases are popular. See? Check its best-sellers list.

150,000 is preferable. It sells 2–3 copies daily. Consider your rivals. Profitable niches have high demand and low competition.

Don't be afraid of competitive niches. First, it shows high demand. Secondly, what are the ways you can undercut the completion? Better book? Or cheaper option? There was lots of competition in my NodeJS book's area. None received 4.5 stars or more. I wrote a NodeJS book. Today, it's a best-selling Node book.

What’s Next

So long. Part II follows. Meanwhile, I will continue to write more books!

Follow my journey on Twitter.


This post is a summary. Read full article here

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Leon Ho

Leon Ho

12 days ago

Digital Brainbuilding (Your Second Brain)

The human brain is amazing. As more scientists examine the brain, we learn how much it can store.

The human brain has 1 billion neurons, according to Scientific American. Each neuron creates 1,000 connections, totaling over a trillion. If each neuron could store one memory, we'd run out of room. [1]

What if you could store and access more info, freeing up brain space for problem-solving and creativity?

Build a second brain to keep up with rising knowledge (what I refer to as a Digital Brain). Effectively managing information entails realizing you can't recall everything.

Every action requires information. You need the correct information to learn a new skill, complete a project at work, or establish a business. You must manage information properly to advance your profession and improve your life.

How to construct a second brain to organize information and achieve goals.

What Is a Second Brain?

How often do you forget an article or book's key point? Have you ever wasted hours looking for a saved file?

If so, you're not alone. Information overload affects millions of individuals worldwide. Information overload drains mental resources and causes anxiety.

This is when the second brain comes in.

Building a second brain doesn't involve duplicating the human brain. Building a system that captures, organizes, retrieves, and archives ideas and thoughts. The second brain improves memory, organization, and recall.

Digital tools are preferable to analog for building a second brain.

Digital tools are portable and accessible. Due to these benefits, we'll focus on digital second-brain building.

Brainware

Digital Brains are external hard drives. It stores, organizes, and retrieves. This means improving your memory won't be difficult. 

Memory has three components in computing:

Recording — storing the information

Organization — archiving it in a logical manner

Recall — retrieving it again when you need it

For example:

Due to rigorous security settings, many websites need you to create complicated passwords with special characters.

You must now memorize (Record), organize (Organize), and input this new password the next time you check in (Recall).

Even in this simple example, there are many pieces to remember. We can't recognize this new password with our usual patterns. If we don't use the password every day, we'll forget it. You'll type the wrong password when you try to remember it.

It's common. Is it because the information is complicated? Nope. Passwords are basically letters, numbers, and symbols.

It happens because our brains aren't meant to memorize these. Digital Brains can do heavy lifting.

Why You Need a Digital Brain

Dual minds are best. Birth brain is limited.

The cerebral cortex has 125 trillion synapses, according to a Stanford Study. The human brain can hold 2.5 million terabytes of digital data. [2]

Building a second brain improves learning and memory.

Learn and store information effectively

Faster information recall

Organize information to see connections and patterns

Build a Digital Brain to learn more and reach your goals faster. Building a second brain requires time and work, but you'll have more time for vital undertakings. 

Why you need a Digital Brain:

1. Use Brainpower Effectively

Your brain has boundaries, like any organ. This is true while solving a complex question or activity. If you can't focus on a work project, you won't finish it on time.

Second brain reduces distractions. A robust structure helps you handle complicated challenges quickly and stay on track. Without distractions, it's easy to focus on vital activities.

2. Staying Organized

Professional and personal duties must be balanced. With so much to do, it's easy to neglect crucial duties. This is especially true for skill-building. Digital Brain will keep you organized and stress-free.

Life success requires action. Organized people get things done. Organizing your information will give you time for crucial tasks.

You'll finish projects faster with good materials and methods. As you succeed, you'll gain creative confidence. You can then tackle greater jobs.

3. Creativity Process

Creativity drives today's world. Creativity is mysterious and surprising for millions worldwide. Immersing yourself in others' associations, triggers, thoughts, and ideas can generate inspiration and creativity.

Building a second brain is crucial to establishing your creative process and building habits that will help you reach your goals. Creativity doesn't require perfection or overthinking.

4. Transforming Your Knowledge Into Opportunities

This is the age of entrepreneurship. Today, you can publish online, build an audience, and make money.

Whether it's a business or hobby, you'll have several job alternatives. Knowledge can boost your economy with ideas and insights.

5. Improving Thinking and Uncovering Connections

Modern career success depends on how you think. Instead of overthinking or perfecting, collect the best images, stories, metaphors, anecdotes, and observations.

This will increase your creativity and reveal connections. Increasing your imagination can help you achieve your goals, according to research. [3]

Your ability to recognize trends will help you stay ahead of the pack.

6. Credibility for a New Job or Business

Your main asset is experience-based expertise. Others won't be able to learn without your help. Technology makes knowledge tangible.

This lets you use your time as you choose while helping others. Changing professions or establishing a new business become learning opportunities when you have a Digital Brain.

7. Using Learning Resources

Millions of people use internet learning materials to improve their lives. Online resources abound. These include books, forums, podcasts, articles, and webinars.

These resources are mostly free or inexpensive. Organizing your knowledge can save you time and money. Building a Digital Brain helps you learn faster. You'll make rapid progress by enjoying learning.

How does a second brain feel?

Digital Brain has helped me arrange my job and family life for years.

No need to remember 1001 passwords. I never forget anything on my wife's grocery lists. Never miss a meeting. I can access essential information and papers anytime, anywhere.

Delegating memory to a second brain reduces tension and anxiety because you'll know what to do with every piece of information.

No information will be forgotten, boosting your confidence. Better manage your fears and concerns by writing them down and establishing a strategy. You'll understand the plethora of daily information and have a clear head.

How to Develop Your Digital Brain (Your Second Brain)

It's cheap but requires work.

Digital Brain development requires:

Recording — storing the information

Organization — archiving it in a logical manner

Recall — retrieving it again when you need it

1. Decide what information matters before recording.

To succeed in today's environment, you must manage massive amounts of data. Articles, books, webinars, podcasts, emails, and texts provide value. Remembering everything is impossible and overwhelming.

What information do you need to achieve your goals?

You must consolidate ideas and create a strategy to reach your aims. Your biological brain can imagine and create with a Digital Brain.

2. Use the Right Tool

We usually record information without any preparation - we brainstorm in a word processor, email ourselves a message, or take notes while reading.

This information isn't used. You must store information in a central location.

Different information needs different instruments.

Evernote is a top note-taking program. Audio clips, Slack chats, PDFs, text notes, photos, scanned handwritten pages, emails, and webpages can be added.

Pocket is a great software for saving and organizing content. Images, videos, and text can be sorted. Web-optimized design

Calendar apps help you manage your time and enhance your productivity by reminding you of your most important tasks. Calendar apps flourish. The best calendar apps are easy to use, have many features, and work across devices. These calendars include Google, Apple, and Outlook.

To-do list/checklist apps are useful for managing tasks. Easy-to-use, versatility, budget, and cross-platform compatibility are important when picking to-do list apps. Google Keep, Google Tasks, and Apple Notes are good to-do apps.

3. Organize data for easy retrieval

How should you organize collected data?

When you collect and organize data, you'll see connections. An article about networking can assist you comprehend web marketing. Saved business cards can help you find new clients.

Choosing the correct tools helps organize data. Here are some tools selection criteria:

  • Can the tool sync across devices?

  • Personal or team?

  • Has a search function for easy information retrieval?

  • Does it provide easy data categorization?

  • Can users create lists or collections?

  • Does it offer easy idea-information connections?

  • Does it mind map and visually organize thoughts?

Conclusion

Building a Digital Brain (second brain) helps us save information, think creatively, and implement ideas. Your second brain is a biological extension. It prevents amnesia, allowing you to tackle bigger creative difficulties.

People who love learning often consume information without using it. Every day, they postpone life-improving experiences until they're forgotten. Useful information becomes strength. 

Reference

[1] ^ Scientific American: What Is the Memory Capacity of the Human Brain?

[2] ^ Clinical Neurology Specialists: What is the Memory Capacity of a Human Brain?

[3] ^ National Library of Medicine: Imagining Success: Multiple Achievement Goals and the Effectiveness of Imagery

Theo Seeds

Theo Seeds

1 month ago

The nine novels that have fundamentally altered the way I view the world

I read 53 novels last year and hope to do so again.

Books are best if you love learning. You get a range of perspectives, unlike podcasts and YouTube channels where you get the same ones.

Book quality varies. I've read useless books. Most books teach me something.

These 9 novels have changed my outlook in recent years. They've made me rethink what I believed or introduced me to a fresh perspective that changed my worldview.

You can order these books yourself. Or, read my summaries to learn what I've synthesized.

Enjoy!

Fooled By Randomness

Nassim Taleb worked as a Wall Street analyst. He used options trading to bet on unlikely events like stock market crashes.

Using financial models, investors predict stock prices. The models assume constant, predictable company growth.

These models base their assumptions on historical data, so they assume the future will be like the past.

Fooled By Randomness argues that the future won't be like the past. We often see impossible market crashes like 2008's housing market collapse. The world changes too quickly to use historical data: by the time we understand how it works, it's changed.

Most people don't live to see history unfold. We think our childhood world will last forever. That goes double for stable societies like the U.S., which hasn't seen major turbulence in anyone's lifetime.

Fooled By Randomness taught me to expect the unexpected. The world is deceptive and rarely works as we expect. You can't always trust your past successes or what you've learned.

Antifragile

More Taleb. Some things, like the restaurant industry and the human body, improve under conditions of volatility and turbulence.

We didn't have a word for this counterintuitive concept until Taleb wrote Antifragile. The human body (which responds to some stressors, like exercise, by getting stronger) and the restaurant industry both benefit long-term from disorder (when economic turbulence happens, bad restaurants go out of business, improving the industry as a whole).

Many human systems are designed to minimize short-term variance because humans don't understand it. By eliminating short-term variation, we increase the likelihood of a major disaster.

Once, we put out every forest fire we found. Then, dead wood piled up in forests, causing catastrophic fires.

We don't like price changes, so politicians prop up markets with stimulus packages and printing money. This leads to a bigger crash later. Two years ago, we printed a ton of money for stimulus checks, and now we have double-digit inflation.

Antifragile taught me how important Plan B is. A system with one or two major weaknesses will fail. Make large systems redundant, foolproof, and change-responsive.

Reality is broken

We dread work. Work is tedious. Right?

Wrong. Work gives many people purpose. People are happiest when working. (That's why some are workaholics.)

Factory work saps your soul, office work is boring, and working for a large company you don't believe in and that operates unethically isn't satisfying.

Jane McGonigal says in Reality Is Broken that meaningful work makes us happy. People love games because they simulate good work. McGonigal says work should be more fun.

Some think they'd be happy on a private island sipping cocktails all day. That's not true. Without anything to do, most people would be bored. Unemployed people are miserable. Many retirees die within 2 years, much more than expected.

Instead of complaining, find meaningful work. If you don't like your job, it's because you're in the wrong environment. Find the right setting.

The Lean Startup

Before the airplane was invented, Harvard scientists researched flying machines. Who knew two North Carolina weirdos would beat them?

The Wright Brothers' plane design was key. Harvard researchers were mostly theoretical, designing an airplane on paper and trying to make it fly in theory. They'd build it, test it, and it wouldn't fly.

The Wright Brothers were different. They'd build a cheap plane, test it, and it'd crash. Then they'd learn from their mistakes, build another plane, and it'd crash.

They repeated this until they fixed all the problems and one of their planes stayed aloft.

Mistakes are considered bad. On the African savannah, one mistake meant death. Even today, if you make a costly mistake at work, you'll be fired as a scapegoat. Most people avoid failing.

In reality, making mistakes is the best way to learn.

Eric Reis offers an unintuitive recipe in The Lean Startup: come up with a hypothesis, test it, and fail. Then, try again with a new hypothesis. Keep trying, learning from each failure.

This is a great startup strategy. Startups are new businesses. Startups face uncertainty. Run lots of low-cost experiments to fail, learn, and succeed.

Don't fear failing. Low-cost failure is good because you learn more from it than you lose. As long as your worst-case scenario is acceptable, risk-taking is good.

The Sovereign Individual

Today, nation-states rule the world. The UN recognizes 195 countries, and they claim almost all land outside of Antarctica.

We agree. For the past 2,000 years, much of the world's territory was ungoverned.

Why today? Because technology has created incentives for nation-states for most of the past 500 years. The logic of violence favors nation-states, according to James Dale Davidson, author of the Sovereign Individual. Governments have a lot to gain by conquering as much territory as possible, so they do.

Not always. During the Dark Ages, Europe was fragmented and had few central governments. Partly because of armor. With armor, a sword, and a horse, you couldn't be stopped. Large states were hard to form because they rely on the threat of violence.

When gunpowder became popular in Europe, violence changed. In a world with guns, assembling large armies and conquest are cheaper.

James Dale Davidson says the internet will make nation-states obsolete. Most of the world's wealth will be online and in people's heads, making capital mobile.

Nation-states rely on predatory taxation of the rich to fund large militaries and welfare programs.

When capital is mobile, people can live anywhere in the world, Davidson says, making predatory taxation impossible. They're not bound by their job, land, or factory location. Wherever they're treated best.

Davidson says that over the next century, nation-states will collapse because they won't have enough money to operate as they do now. He imagines a world of small city-states, like Italy before 1900. (or Singapore today).

We've already seen some movement toward a more Sovereign Individual-like world. The pandemic proved large-scale remote work is possible, freeing workers from their location. Many cities and countries offer remote workers incentives to relocate.

Many Western businesspeople live in tax havens, and more people are renouncing their US citizenship due to high taxes. Increasing globalization has led to poor economic conditions and resentment among average people in the West, which is why politicians like Trump and Sanders rose to popularity with angry rhetoric, even though Obama rose to popularity with a more hopeful message.

The Sovereign Individual convinced me that the future will be different than Nassim Taleb's. Large countries like the U.S. will likely lose influence in the coming decades, while Portugal, Singapore, and Turkey will rise. If the trend toward less freedom continues, people may flee the West en masse.

So a traditional life of college, a big firm job, hard work, and corporate advancement may not be wise. Young people should learn as much as possible and develop flexible skills to adapt to the future.

Sapiens

Sapiens is a history of humanity, from proto-humans in Ethiopia to our internet society today, with some future speculation.

Sapiens views humans (and Homo sapiens) as a unique species on Earth. We were animals 100,000 years ago. We're slowly becoming gods, able to affect the climate, travel to every corner of the Earth (and the Moon), build weapons that can kill us all, and wipe out thousands of species.

Sapiens examines what makes Homo sapiens unique. Humans can believe in myths like religion, money, and human-made entities like countries and LLCs.

These myths facilitate large-scale cooperation. Ants from the same colony can cooperate. Any two humans can trade, though. Even if they're not genetically related, large groups can bond over religion and nationality.

Combine that with intelligence, and you have a species capable of amazing feats.

Sapiens may make your head explode because it looks at the world without presupposing values, unlike most books. It questions things that aren't usually questioned and says provocative things.

It also shows how human history works. It may help you understand and predict the world. Maybe.

The 4-hour Workweek

Things can be done better.

Tradition, laziness, bad bosses, or incentive structures cause complacency. If you're willing to make changes and not settle for the status quo, you can do whatever you do better and achieve more in less time.

The Four-Hour Work Week advocates this. Tim Ferriss explains how he made more sales in 2 hours than his 8-hour-a-day colleagues.

By firing 2 of his most annoying customers and empowering his customer service reps to make more decisions, he was able to leave his business and travel to Europe.

Ferriss shows how to escape your 9-to-5, outsource your life, develop a business that feeds you with little time, and go on mini-retirement adventures abroad.

Don't accept the status quo. Instead, level up. Find a way to improve your results. And try new things.

Why Nations Fail

Nogales, Arizona and Mexico were once one town. The US/Mexico border was arbitrarily drawn.

Both towns have similar cultures and populations. Nogales, Arizona is well-developed and has a high standard of living. Nogales, Mexico is underdeveloped and has a low standard of living. Whoa!

Why Nations Fail explains how government-created institutions affect country development. Strong property rights, capitalism, and non-corrupt governments promote development. Countries without capitalism, strong property rights, or corrupt governments don't develop.

Successful countries must also embrace creative destruction. They must offer ordinary citizens a way to improve their lot by creating value for others, not reducing them to slaves, serfs, or peasants. Authors say that ordinary people could get rich on trading expeditions in 11th-century Venice.

East and West Germany and North and South Korea have different economies because their citizens are motivated differently. It explains why Chile, China, and Singapore grow so quickly after becoming market economies.

People have spent a lot of money on third-world poverty. According to Why Nations Fail, education and infrastructure aren't the answer. Developing nations must adopt free-market economic policies.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk is the world's richest man, but that’s not a good way to describe him. Elon Musk is the world's richest man, which is like calling Steve Jobs a turtleneck-wearer or Benjamin Franklin a printer.

Elon Musk does cool sci-fi stuff to help humanity avoid existential threats.

Oil will run out. We've delayed this by developing better extraction methods. We only have so much nonrenewable oil.

Our society is doomed if it depends on oil. Elon Musk invested heavily in Tesla and SolarCity to speed the shift to renewable energy.

Musk worries about AI: we'll build machines smarter than us. We won't be able to stop these machines if something goes wrong, just like cows can't fight humans. Neuralink: we need to be smarter to compete with AI when the time comes.

If Earth becomes uninhabitable, we need a backup plan. Asteroid or nuclear war could strike Earth at any moment. We may not have much time to react if it happens in a few days. We must build a new civilization while times are good and resources are plentiful.

Short-term problems dominate our politics, but long-term issues are more important. Long-term problems can cause mass casualties and homelessness. Musk demonstrates how to think long-term.

The main reason people are impressed by Elon Musk, and why Ashlee Vances' biography influenced me so much, is that he does impossible things.

Electric cars were once considered unprofitable, but Tesla has made them mainstream. SpaceX is the world's largest private space company.

People lack imagination and dismiss ununderstood ideas as impossible. Humanity is about pushing limits. Don't worry if your dreams seem impossible. Try it.

Thanks for reading.

Adam Frank

Adam Frank

1 month ago

Humanity is not even a Type 1 civilization. What might a Type 3 be capable of?

The Kardashev scale grades civilizations from Type 1 to Type 3 based on energy harvesting.

How do technologically proficient civilizations emerge across timescales measuring in the tens of thousands or even millions of years? This is a question that worries me as a researcher in the search for “technosignatures” from other civilizations on other worlds. Since it is already established that longer-lived civilizations are the ones we are most likely to detect, knowing something about their prospective evolutionary trajectories could be translated into improved search tactics. But even more than knowing what to seek for, what I really want to know is what happens to a society after so long time. What are they capable of? What do they become?

This was the question Russian SETI pioneer Nikolai Kardashev asked himself back in 1964. His answer was the now-famous “Kardashev Scale.” Kardashev was the first, although not the last, scientist to try and define the processes (or stages) of the evolution of civilizations. Today, I want to launch a series on this question. It is crucial to technosignature studies (of which our NASA team is hard at work), and it is also important for comprehending what might lay ahead for mankind if we manage to get through the bottlenecks we have now.

The Kardashev scale

Kardashev’s question can be expressed another way. What milestones in a civilization’s advancement up the ladder of technical complexity will be universal? The main notion here is that all (or at least most) civilizations will pass through some kind of definable stages as they progress, and some of these steps might be mirrored in how we could identify them. But, while Kardashev’s major focus was identifying signals from exo-civilizations, his scale gave us a clear way to think about their evolution.

The classification scheme Kardashev employed was not based on social systems of ethics because they are something that we can probably never predict about alien cultures. Instead, it was built on energy, which is something near and dear to the heart of everybody trained in physics. Energy use might offer the basis for universal stages of civilisation progression because you cannot do the work of establishing a civilization without consuming energy. So, Kardashev looked at what energy sources were accessible to civilizations as they evolved technologically and used those to build his scale.

From Kardashev’s perspective, there are three primary levels or “types” of advancement in terms of harvesting energy through which a civilization should progress.

Type 1: Civilizations that can capture all the energy resources of their native planet constitute the first stage. This would imply capturing all the light energy that falls on a world from its host star. This makes it reasonable, given solar energy will be the largest source available on most planets where life could form. For example, Earth absorbs hundreds of atomic bombs’ worth of energy from the Sun every second. That is a rather formidable energy source, and a Type 1 race would have all this power at their disposal for civilization construction.

Type 2: These civilizations can extract the whole energy resources of their home star. Nobel Prize-winning scientist Freeman Dyson famously anticipated Kardashev’s thinking on this when he imagined an advanced civilization erecting a large sphere around its star. This “Dyson Sphere” would be a machine the size of the complete solar system for gathering stellar photons and their energy.

Type 3: These super-civilizations could use all the energy produced by all the stars in their home galaxy. A normal galaxy has a few hundred billion stars, so that is a whole lot of energy. One way this may be done is if the civilization covered every star in their galaxy with Dyson spheres, but there could also be more inventive approaches.

Implications of the Kardashev scale

Climbing from Type 1 upward, we travel from the imaginable to the god-like. For example, it is not hard to envisage utilizing lots of big satellites in space to gather solar energy and then beaming that energy down to Earth via microwaves. That would get us to a Type 1 civilization. But creating a Dyson sphere would require chewing up whole planets. How long until we obtain that level of power? How would we have to change to get there? And once we get to Type 3 civilizations, we are virtually thinking about gods with the potential to engineer the entire cosmos.

For me, this is part of the point of the Kardashev scale. Its application for thinking about identifying technosignatures is crucial, but even more strong is its capacity to help us shape our imaginations. The mind might become blank staring across hundreds or thousands of millennia, and so we need tools and guides to focus our attention. That may be the only way to see what life might become — what we might become — once it arises to start out beyond the boundaries of space and time and potential.


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