We have reached a milestone in humanity, one that places the future of our species in ambiguity. Theorist postulate that as we advance through time, our species will require more energy to function. The exponential growth of the human population, coupled with advances in technology that will require increased energy input. The Kardashev Scale is created to rank civilizations based on their ability to harness energy.
The inventor of the scale, Nikolai Kardashev, was a Russian astrophysicist who had a keen interest in the search for extraterrestrial life. The scale originally consisted of 3 base classes, later it was expanded to 5 base classes. Based on the output of energy the civilization produces a ranking would be earned.
Type I 10¹⁶W
Type II 10²⁶W
Type III 10³⁶W
Type IV 10⁴⁶W
Type V Infinite
It is important to note that the human race is not ranked according to the Kardashev Scale because we do not produce enough energy, hence we are a Type 0 civilization. According to Michio Kaku, we will reach a Type I civilization within 100-200 years.
Type I Civilization
A Type I designation is given to a species that is able to fully harness the radiant energy outputted by the nearest star, this would be a means to curb our increasing demand for energy due to population growth. A Type I civilization would produce 100,000 times more energy than what we can produce right now. In this designation we would be able to control the natural forces around us, including; volcanoes, weather and earthquakes. We might find these feats amazing, but compared to higher ranked types, these are but primitive and basic forms of manipulations.
Type II Civilization
This type of civilization can harness the power of the entire star near its proximity. Type I merely transforms the starlight into energy, whereas a Type II has complete control over the star itself. Several methods were designed by scientist to control the energy from a star. The most popular method is the ‘Dyson Sphere’, this device would encapsulate every inch of the star, gathering most of the energy released and transferring it for later usage. Advances in fusion power, if mastered by the race, can be reproduced on a massive scale to create an artificial star. Nearby gas giants can also be utilized for their hydrogen, for energy, via orbiting reactors.
The energy that is produced in this stage ensures that the civilization will have immunity to extinction. This is quite literally a ticket to immortality, as a species. If a moon-sized object was to be hurled towards us, we would have the means to vaporize the threat in mere seconds. If we had time, we could even simply move our planet away using gravitational forces produced by the controlled star. We would also have the capability to move other planets, like Saturn, or any planet of your choice.
Type III Civilization
Type III is a species that has become galactic travellers, with immense knowledge pertaining to energy production; this will result in the civilization becoming a master race. The species will undergo hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, both biological and artificial. This might cause the inhabitants in this stage to be vastly different from earlier stages in terms of appearance and functionality. This change may come in the form of cybernetic enhancements, with the original descendants being sub-species of a highly advanced patriarchal society. The original species may appear disabled, inferior and devolved to their cyborg counterparts.
At this stage, we would have developed massive colonies of robots capable of “self-replication”; their population would rival the host species, eventually outpacing the host species in reproduction. These robots would be designed to go from star to star, possibly to build more Dyson Spheres, creating a huge network of energy siphoning plants across the cosmos. In this stage, the only thing stopping the species from claiming dominance over the universe is the laws of physics. Travelling less-than the speed of light and addressing gravity, amongst other things, will be the limiting factor for this stage. If we were to design a working warp-drive or use the vast networks of energy centres to create wormholes (both concepts remain theoretical for the time being), we could address our limitations.
Type IV Civilization
Kardashev believed that a Type IV civilization was ‘too’ advanced for typical biological organisms to reach, this is why he did not include it in his original ranking system. Many believe that a Type IV civilization can be attained when given ample time for growth and technological maturity. In this stage the species is capable of harnessing the energy content of the entire universe, with such technological superiority, traversing the expansion of space becomes a feasible option. This civilization would also be capable of harnessing energy that is beyond our understanding; employing methods that go beyond our current understanding of the laws of physics.
Type V Civilization
This type of civilization would not only be able to harness energy from our universe, but also harness all energy from all universes, within all time-lines possible. The extent of this power would put us in the league of a GOD, being able to freely manipulate the universe to our every whim. We would use technology that would look strange or magical to other civilizations. The energy produced in this stage can not be quantized and remains infinite.