Advanced Civilization - On the Kardashev Scale

Type 1

A type one civilization, an achievement current humanity is likely far from, is defined as a people who have harnessed the complete energy available to their planet from their star. For humans, this amounts to collecting all of the sunlight that falls to the earth, storing it, and powering society from it. Alternatively, if humans found an alternate energy source equivalent to the energy the Sun gives our planet, we would also have obtained Type 1 status.

This is not a trivially amount of energy. 174 petawatts (1.74 × 1017 W) is what it would take. Humanity of the early 2000s, more specifically as of 2010, uses approximately 16 terawatts (1.6 × 1012 W) meaning that we need to increase our energy gathering abilities by over a 100,000 times.

Dyson Swarm

A Dyson Swarm - A type of Dyson Sphere, made of individual satellites each on their own orbit, together gathering a significant amount of energy from the encircled star.
A Dyson Swarm - A type of Dyson Sphere, made of individual satellites each on their own orbit, together gathering a significant amount of energy from the encircled star.

Type 2

The relatively lowly Type 1 civilization might grow tired of it's primitive status and opt for the next designation in rank. A Type 2 civilization would have to harness the total power output of an entire star, or in other words, have access to an average wattage of over four hundred trillion trillion watts (4 × 1026 W). To put into perspective just how much power this is, consider that if we were a Type 2 civilization and a moon sized meteor was on a collision course with Earth, we'd simply make the decision and at a push of a button, humanity could effortlessly and immediately vaporize the entire meteor out of existence. Perhaps even more impressively, we could instead (if time was available) move the Earth out of the way all together... or move Jupiter INTO the way to intercept it. 

The possibilities seem limitless for a Type 2 civilization. All problems of today would be meaningless for them. For a society to make it this far, which cannot completely be determined by an inferior civilization like our own, would require advancement both technologically and sociologically. War must be eliminated or difficult to actualize in practice, otherwise the society will have long ago destroyed itself.

To make it to Type 2 status, would require implementing a Dyson Sphere around the sun. The Dyson Sphere would be a collection of energy capturing satellites each on it's own stable orbit, which would work together to capture nearly all of the energy emitted by the sun (or star). Of course, as for a type 1 civilization, a type 2 civilization might use alternative methods to achieve the same amount of power, however, the Dyson Sphere approach is generally considered to be the easiest by most. If hydrogen fusion had been perfected by the life form, the power output could also be obtained by fusing hydrogen on a mass scale in a super  reactor which would convert a significant amount of the energy released into electricity. A large volume of gas, like Jupiter, which is mostly hydrogen, for example, might be considered due to it's extremely large size. The gas planet could be siphoned off at a sufficient rate for the gigantic tokamak reactor orbiting nearby to generate the Type 2 level of energy.

Galaxy NGC 4414

A Galaxy (NGC4414) Billions to trillions of stars within.
A Galaxy (NGC4414) Billions to trillions of stars within.

Type 3

What could possibly be next!? Type 3! Reserved only for the most advanced lifeforms in existence, a Type 3 civilization would have seemingly mastered everything there is to know about energy, having achieved the average total power output of 40 trillion trillion TRILLION watts ( 4 × 1037 W), equivalent to that of an entire GALAXY. Type 3 civilizations are even harder to characterize, if they do indeed exist, or are even possible, due to their extreme advancement, and may not have any similarity to human type intelligences. For this reason, their methods and reasons, are impossible to derive, so the following course of thought is purely speculation.

Through the natural evolution of technological advancement, a Type 2 civilization will eventually exhaust the energy of it's first star, and perhaps the next several stars as their energy demand insatiably rises. In attempt to deliver the ever increasing energy to their growing nation, they may send out colonization robots which are equipped with a universal constructor and are capable of self replication. Only a single robot would initially be needed to start the expedition and after several robot generations, the replicators would have increased in quantity to millions and then billions as they simultaneously travel to the far reaches of the galaxy, each colonizing a new star, building a Dyson Sphere, and then creating a vast network of energy transport systems to deliver the immense power back to the home planet. Of course humanity believes this process would ultimately be limited by the speed of light, however, perhaps with the growing energy potential as a Type 2 heads for Type 3, a break through will be discovered, allowing faster-than-light travel. Potentially, the super energies of a Type III could be used to warp space (without exotic (little understood) dark energy) to power their warp drives. Or maybe a quantum teleportation trick. But far more likely, a method made possible only by a currently unknown physical mechanism will enable the superluminal speeds vital to the propagation of the energy acquisition efforts.

Some may wonder, during this mass colonization, are any other life forms going to be in the way? Maybe, but by some of the most accurate solutions, although notoriously bad still, to the Drake equation (the famous "how many aliens are out there" equation), there may be only one or two intelligent civilizations occupying a galaxy at any given time. If this is the case, there is nothing to stand in the way.

A Borg cube in Star Trek. An advanced biological technological hybrid, cable of self replication, on a continuing mission to spread their influence and assimilate others across the universe. Surprisingly they seemed remarkably slow at this...
A Borg cube in Star Trek. An advanced biological technological hybrid, cable of self replication, on a continuing mission to spread their influence and assimilate others across the universe. Surprisingly they seemed remarkably slow at this... | Source

Type 4

Now we're going way out of the known realm. Type 4 was not originally defined on the Kardeshev scale for the reason that it's considered "too" advanced. But if a type 3 civilization is considered, at least by some, as plausible, then a Type 4 would be the next step in the natural way of things. So just how much energy are we talking about here? The energy content of the entire visible universe! Within a few orders of magnitude of 1045 W. Such a civilization would, according to Zoltan Galantai, be too complicated for current humanity to recognize, it's inner workings being indistinguishable from the universe itself, or the laws of physics. For this reason, the universe itself might, by reverse thinking, be an intelligence that has achieved Type 4 status. This is a peculiar possibility.

Gathering this amount of energy "the old fashion way" or at least the way that a Type 3 civilization and prior might attempt, would be arguably impossible. Acquisition, transportation, and processing, would simply never get one anywhere close to these kinds of energies. Warp drives, or other exotic propulsion far beyond anything imaginable, would be absolutely necessary, just to traverse the ever accelerating expansion of space. The distance would not just be extraordinarily large, it would literally be infinite, at least to anything traveling slower than light.

Perhaps stars are not the ultimate depositories of energy in the universe. Calculations of observations of galaxy motion reveal the presence of a dark matter, that which does not interfere with photons, and is thus invisible by our current technology. Furthermore, this dark matter, and it's associated dark energy, accounts for the significant majority of known mass and energy in the universe. By the current scale then, a Type IV civilization might be obtainable with less traveling, and more exotic physics, by tapping energy sources currently completely unknown.

Type 5

Now, the ultimate stage, LEVEL 5, the Omega Civilization. The energy of the universe just wasn't enough. This speculative advancement is achieved when the total energy of the universe and ALL POSSIBLE universes (in ALL POSSIBLE time-lines) is harnessed and controlled. These entities would absolutely be indistinguishable from gods. Not only would they possess the ability to create and destroy new universes instantaneously, they'd be able to design universes for particular reasons, with particular laws of physics and control every single aspect, including space and time and the numbers of dimensions. They would understand existence in a way so fundamental, and beyond what humans can imagine, that notions of energy and time would be nearly irrelevant to them. Presuming that a Type V civilization comes about, naturally on it's own evolution, all the way up from Type 0, they'd form an understanding of their universe, perhaps in it's entirety, and be capable of changing everything about their reality to better fit their purposes. In this way, they could modify time, their history, and possibly even fulfill the role of being their own creator.

Perhaps, the universe was created by a civilization of maximal intelligence, which doesn't yet exist.

The famous Mandelbrot Set. A pattern derived from a single equation, defying complete explanation. An infinite fractal, much like the universe.
The famous Mandelbrot Set. A pattern derived from a single equation, defying complete explanation. An infinite fractal, much like the universe.

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TheWorldNow 5 years ago from Washington DC

Wow, this was really thorough and thought provoking! I have to read more about this! Thanks!

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