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The Kardashev Scale-Type I, II, III, IV & V Civilization

We have touched a turning point in society. According to famous theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, the next 100 years of science will decide whether we perish or flourish. Will we continue to be a Type 0 civilization, or will we progress and make our way into the stars?

Theorists emphasize that, as a civilization grows superior and becomes more advanced, its energy demands will rise quickly due to its population growth and the energy needs of its various machines. With this in mind, the Kardashev scale was made as a way of measuring a civilization’s technological progress based upon how much functional energy it has at its disposal.

Initially, it is significant to note that the human race is not even on this scale yet. Since we still sustain our energy requirements from dead plants and animals, here on Earth, we are a poor Type 0 civilization (and we have a LONG way to go before being promoted to a type I civilization). Kaku inclines to believe that, all things taken into concern, we will reach Type I in 100 – 200 years time. But what does each of these classes really stand for in literal terms?

At this stage, we would have developed colonies of robots that are proficient of ‘self replication’; their population may upsurge into the millions as they spread out across the galaxy, inhabiting star after star. And these being might build Dyson Spheres to encapsulate each one, making a huge network that would carry energy back to the home planet. But extending over the galaxy in such a manner would face numerous difficulties; namely, the species would be constrained by the laws of physics. Chiefly, light-speed travel. That is, except they develop a working warp drive, or use that spotless energy cache to master wormhole teleportation (two things that remain theoretical for the time being), they can only get so far.

An artist rendering of such a civilization (Credit: Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword)

Kardashev believed a Type IV civilization was ‘too’ advanced and did not go beyond Type III on his scale. He thought that, confidently, this would be the extent of any species’ capability. Many think so, but a few believe there is a further level that could be achieved. (I mean, surely there is a limit?) Type IV civilizations would almost be capable of harnessing the energy content of the whole universe and with that, they could traverse the accelerating expansion of space (additionally, advance races of these species may live inside supermassive black holes). To previous methods of producing energy, these kinds of feats are considered impossible. A Type IV civilization would require to tap into energy sources unknown to us using strange, or currently unknown, laws of physics.

Type V. Yes, Type V might just be the next possible advancement to such a civilization. Here beings would be like gods, having the knowledge to manipulate the universe as they please. Now, as I said, humans are a very, very long way from ever reaching anything like this. But it’s not to say that it cannot be achieved as long as we take care of Earth and each other. To do so, the first step is to preserve our tiny home, extinguish war, and continue to support scientific advances and discoveries.