The Kardashev Scale — The 6 Levels of Civilization
In 1964, a Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev designed a scale that classifies global civilizations on the basis of their level of development. The Kardashev scale is a method of measuring a civilization's level of technological advancement based on the amount of energy it is able to use. The more energy a civilization has the more technology it can create and the more new technologies are created the most energy it can control.
We haven’t even reached the first level of the scale. Currently, we are the residents of the 0 level civilization. What do we need to reach the first level? According to data on global energy consumption we have passed only 0.16 %, so we’ve barely started.
At the first level, humans will learn to extract energy from everything on the planet. Currently, the civilization of Type I is usually defined as one that can harness all the energy that falls on a planet from its parent star. We will be able to control earthquakes, tsunamis, and even the gravitational force. We will be able to generate electricity from almost everything on the planet. Humans will finally stop extracting minerals from the Earth’s interior and become fully eco friendly.
At the second level, humans will be able to subdue the energy of the sun and the entire solar system. We already have a plan for this. American physicist Freeman Dyson came up with a hypothetical sphere that is now named after him. The Dyson Sphere is a huge sphere that is in a form of a shell. It is so enormous that it could wrap the Sun. It’s main purpose will be to extract energy from a central star.
What would this much energy mean for a species? Well, nothing known to science could wipe out a Type II civilization. Take, for instance, if humans survived long enough to reach this status, and a moon sized object entered our solar system on a collision course with our planet–we’d have the ability to vaporize it out of existence.
Humanity will be scattered to all our neighbours of the solar system. People will be able to make interplanetary quick trips to meet their friends and family.
Now, we will be able to subdue the entire Milky Way galaxy. All the planets and stars that make up our galaxy will be contained in Dyson Spheres. Humans will extract and harness all the energy in our galaxy. We will become the true masters. However, in terms of humans, thousands of years of evolution may result in the inhabitants of this type III civilization being very different from the human race as we know it.
Kardashev believed that a Type IV civilization was impossible, so he did not go past Type III. However, the Kardashev Scale was further expanded by science fiction writer Helge Kautz. He added several more levels to the original classification.
Now for level IV, energy will be accumulated from each galactic supercluster. Each galaxy will be in a Dyson sphere. This civilization would be supergalactic, able to travel throughout the entire universe and consume the energy output of several galaxies. A Type IV civilization would need to tap into energy sources unknown to us using strange, or currently unknown, laws of physics.
At level V, humans will be able to collect energy from the whole universe. Each micron will be harnessed to get energy. This apparently infinite amount of energy will not only be cultivated but it will be used to change the laws of physics.
The final level seems even unrealistic and bigger than any science fiction movie. The incredibility can be understand by the fact that humans will be able to light the stars. The type VI will exist outside of time and space, and humans will be capable of creating universes and multiverses, and destroying them just as easily. Humanity will be able to control anything and everything. At this stage we will practically be Gods.
But is any of this even real? The probability that humanity will reach even the second level is very small. Will this theory only remain a theory? Physicist and futurist Michio Kaku suggested that, if humans increase their energy consumption at an average rate of 3 percent each year, we may attain Type I status in 100–200 years, Type II status in a few thousand years, and Type III status in 100,000 to a million years.
We must remember that a few million years ago we were monkeys, jumping around on trees and eating fruits. The speed of evolution and development has only gone higher and is progressively increasing at a fast pace. We do not know what the future awaits. Today's world might seem like ancient times after a few decades. Humanity is capable of big things and I hope the journey goes on.