A very cool theory about the possiable classifications of all the civilizations in the universe including ours.
The Kardashev scale is a general method of classifying how technologically advanced a civilization is, first proposed in 1964 by the Russian
astronomer Nikolai Kardashev. It has three categories, based on the amount of usable energy a civilization has at its disposal and increasing
Type I - A civilization that is able to harness all of the power available on a single planet, approximately 10^16 W (given the Solar constant for
Earth, this value for Earth exceeds 1.74×10^17 W).
Type II - A civilization that is able to harness all of the power available from a single star, approximately 10^26 W (the Sun outputs appoximately
Type III - A civilization that is able to harness all of the power available from a single galaxy, approximately 10^36 W.
All such civilizations are purely hypothetical at this point. However, the Kardashev scale is of use to SETI researchers, science fiction authors, and
futurists as a theoretical framework.
Human civilization is currently somewhere below Type I, as it is able to harness only a portion of the energy that is available on Earth. The current
state of human civilization has been unofficially named Type 0. Although intermediate values were not discussed in Kardashev's original proposal,
Carl Sagan attempted to extrapolate and calculated humanity's current civilization to be 0.7.
A possible contender for the advancement to a Type I civilization is to begin the heavy use of ocean thermal energy conversion, wind turbines and
tidal power to obtain the energy received by Earth's oceans from the Sun. However there is no known way to successfully utilise the full potential of
Earth's energy production without complete coating of the surface with man made structures. In the near and medium future, this is an impossibility
given humans' current lifestyle.
A hypothetical Type II civilization might employ a Dyson sphere or other similar construct in order to utilize all of the energy output by a star, or
perhaps more exotic means such as feeding stellar mass into a black hole to generate usable energy. A Type III civilization might use the same
techniques employed by a Type II civilization, applied to all of the stars of a galaxy individually, or perhaps might use other mechanisms not yet
A common and recognisable example of a fictional civilization capable of entering a Type III level are Star Trek's Borg who utilise energy on a
massive scale, being in between Type II and Type III. One of the proposed uses of such energy sources is star lifting, by which stars may be mined for
Weakness by supposition?
It has been argued that, because we cannot understand advanced civilizations, we cannot predict their behavior; thus, Kardashev's visualization may
not reflect what will actually occur for an advanced civilization. Theories like this are discussed at Carbon chauvinism. This central argument is
found within the book Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life (A more controversial discussion can be found at Future Hi: Exotic
Civilizations: Beyond Kardaschev (www.futurehi.net...
It is also possible that the unique conditions on Earth allow for specific technologies to develop which would take many times longer for a
Civilization not having these conditions to achieve. The list of presumably unique conditions on Earth, and of related discoveries, is quite long.
The Hall-Heroult process and the Bayer process, if not discovered in the late 19th Century, might have lead to a delay in the creation of Aluminium
dependent technologies, such as Aircraft and Rocketry.
The Moon produces tides, and offers some protection from asteroids, comets, and radiation.
Many discoveries were essentially accidental, such as the discovery of Penicillin, or the laser.
It is possible that the conditions for the creation of hydrocarbons, coal, or natural gas would not exist on other planets. These fuels were essential
for us to move past dependence upon wood and animal based energy systems. Although waterwheel, wind, and solar energy technologies existed, they were
not developed further until suitable industrial techniques were found to produce better materials. These techniques consume massive amounts of energy,
and therefore could not be powered by the unimproved technologies. A similar argument could be made that without fossil fuel technologies, more
powerful technologies, such as nuclear reactors, could not develop.
Counter-argument: abundance of alternative sources
Human perception has a natural bias towards the known energy development paths of Human civilization. It must also be noted that during both the 1973
energy crisis and the 1979 energy crisis highly industrialized societies continued to function; many moved towards developing alternative energy
technologies on a massive scale under the assumption that these could provide the energy needed to continue industrial and commercial processes should
fossil fuel supplies be compromised in some critical way.
Given this development, it is possible that a society could develop without a stage where fossil fuel based energy production occurs. This version of
Buckminster Fuller's argument on Current solar income conforms with Paul Hawken's idea of restorative economy, stating that fossil fuel based energy
production is not essential nor desirable given the effects and alternatives. Also, it must be noted that the principles behind the fuel cell were
discovered by Christian Friedrich Schönbein in 1838, and were applied by Sir William Grove in 1843, before there was widespread usage of fossil fuels
other than coal. This raises the possibility that for alien civilizations fuel cells could be used in place of hydrocarbon fuels. It was only in the
1850s that the first industrial petroleum extraction was started by Edwin Drake.
Possible Kardashev Scale Expansion of Human Civilization from Long Term History (www.darkage.fsnet.co.uk...
) Given the fact
that there must be a transition between civilization periods for each level, social upheval can be prevalent in transition, especially with the Type 0
to Type I transition, where it is speculated given current conditions on this planet, that self-destruction is highly likely. Many individuals have
pointed to the faster upheval of civilization periods as indicative of an upcoming change over to Type I civilization. It is notable, if the numbers
given under Current Values are accurate, that we are accelerating towards the eventual Type 0/ Type I transition. Further discussion of this can be
read at Long Term History(www.darkage.fsnet.co.uk...
), though the factual accuracy of this souce must be taken lightly.
For pre-Type I civilizations, it is costly to attempt contact with other more advanced civilizations because of the energy output needed. It has been
predicted that in order to provide a reliable contact beacon of sufficient power to be noticable to a Type II civilization, it must output such high
energy levels that the cost between $1 trillion to $10 trillion in energy. The latter figure is the approximate GDP of the United States at the end of
the 1990s through the beginning of the 21st Century. Further discussion can be found at Interstellar Probes: A New Approach to SETI
); the consensus is that civilization must advance high into Type I before the energy
required for reliable contact with other civilizations becomes sufficiently low that it does not drain a civilization's economic resources.
The exponential structure of the scale allows ready extrapolation to higher types. For example:
Type IV: control of the energy output of a galactic supercluster; approximately 10^46W.
Type V: energy control over the entire universe; approximately 10^56W. Such a civilization approaches or surpasses the limits of speculation based on
current scientific understanding, and may not be possible. Frank J. Tipler's Omega point would presumably occupy this level.
These extensions are mainly used in science fiction. They are not "official" and may differ from source to source. For example, some authors would
class a "Type V" civilization as Type IV instead. Further examples of extensions of the scale follow:
Type VI: Energy control over multiple universes; a power level that is technically infinite
The civilization may have gained the ability to alter physical laws across multiple universes
These civilizations can escape a dying universe, and thereby become eternal; it is possible that less advanced civilizations can do so as well.
Type VII: Hypothetical status of a deity, able to create universes at will, using them as an energy source
It is interesting and important to note that as of yet, no science fiction literature characterizes beings with energy usages in the range of Type
VII. Type VII though is well beyond the stage of understanding that humans can incur beyond a technological singularity.
Futher discussion can be read at Just My Type: Kardashev Civilizations in SF and Beyond (www.suite101.com...
Science fiction, having extended these values has also provided guides for possible future changes associated with the fractionalized version of the
Kardashev scale. A possible one is presented here§:
Type 0 No Civilization
0.01 Discovery of Fire
0.1 Stone tools
0.5 Industrial Revolution
0.6 19th century - 20th century technological expansion
0.7 Nuclear Weapons and Fission power
0.8 Late 20th Century, Early 21st Century
0.9 Fusion power, Space elevators
0.95 up to Type I Technological Breakpoint, with either civilization destruction or survival
Type I Single Planetary Civilization
I.1-I.2 near space industry and colonization
I.3 Asteroid mining
I.4 Planet Mining for fuels and energy
I.5 First Interstellar travel
I.6 Culture Orbital
I.8 Construction begins on Dyson Sphere or Alderson disk
Type II Civilization extends to the entire Solar System
II.0 Dyson Sphere completion
II.1-II.2 creation of the nearest star colony
II.4 star lifting
II.5 Colonization of the nearest 100 stars
II.6 Star Trek type civilization (debatable)
Type III Colonization of the Milky Way Galaxy
III.2 Star Wars type civilization (debatable)
III.5 Ability to survive the end of the Universe.
Type IV Colonization of the Local Group
Type V Colonization of Futher Galaxies and the Cluster surrounding the Local Group, including the Visible universe.
Hummm i was wondering about the type I civilization... it kind of sounds like the unification of the whole planet... possiably a world government (the
UN?), and single spoken/written language (english?), a unifed form of planetery comunication (internet) and the ability of the race to survive any
natural disaster? Anyone else got a take on what would be needed for Earth to become a type I civilization beside the power factor???... like the
social, political,enviromental and other implications?
[edit on 23-11-2004 by beyondSciFi]