The KARDASHEV Scale (types 0 to VI)

In 1964, Russian astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev figured that civilizations can be categorized by the total amount of energy available to them. He defined three levels of civilizations based on their capacity to harness and use power. These have since been expanded by another four (in light of the increasingly wild speculations spawned by marrying mathematics and theoretical physics). 

The Kardashev Scale, as it is called, now lists 7 levels of civilizations based on their power consumption, and implicitly on their technological advancement and extension.

Earth by night

Type 0

A civilization that harnesses the energy of its home planet, but not to its full potential just yet.

As you might have guessed, that’s our good old human selves. We’re currently at about 0.73 on the Kardashev Scale. It is presumed we’ll reach type I in about 100 years, give or take, depending on how fast our technology advances and how diligently we procreate.

 

Type I

A civilization that is capable of harnessing the total energy of its home planet.

This is where we’re heading, whether we want it or not. The good part would be that we’d achieve an ultimate peak, the bad part is that we’d then soon have more energy demand than supply, because evolution can’t be so easily halted. We’d have to leave Earth and start pumping other planets for their worth, or even milk our own star directly for its power.

Regardless, becoming a type I civilization is overall a good thing. At least in fiction.

As a type I civilization, we would be capable of controlling Earth entirely. Maybe even influence the weather, control volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, influence global flora and fauna, geological makeup, plate tectonics, etc. That’s pretty awesome! On the flipside, we’d have to recycle everything to get by.

 

Type II

An interstellar civilization, capable of harnessing the total energy output of a star.

This is the next stage in the evolution of a civilization, and presumes a level of technological development that allows for gigantic constructions and utmost efficiency. Dyson structures come to mind here, which are gigantic constructs meant to harness the energy of stars.

I imagine a type II civilization would not just built these megastructures, but also inhabit them and completely control what goes on inside them. It would control the orbit of all planets in that system, harvest asteroids and comets at its leisure, and basically consume the entire solar system. An intimidating power to behold.

dyson sphere

Type III

A galactic civilization, capable of inhabiting and harnessing the energy of an entire galaxy.

Here we start to venture into truly sexy science-fiction territory. Or am I the only one getting all flushed and tingly at imagining this scale of evolution? *fans herself*

A type III civilization would span the entire galaxy, colonizing and controlling numerous systems. It would be able to harness, store and use the energy output of all stars within that galaxy. Such a civilization would use planets like building blocks, being able to move planets from one solar system to other, merge solar systems, merge stars, absorb supernovae, and even create stars. The galaxy is their playground, and everything in it becomes a toy. Even galactic cat shit, if accidentally dug out. Probably here on Earth.

 

Type IV

A universal civilization, capable of harnessing the energy of the whole universe.

This civilization would be supergalactic, able to travel throughout the entire universe and consume the energy output of several—possibly all—galaxies. Think of that real estate size!

It would also be capable of projects of gargantuan proportions, such as manipulating space-time and tinkering with entropy, thus reaching immortality on a grand scale. An essentially indestructible and highly utopian civilization.

Multiverse_by_CryptFiend

Type V

A multiverse culture, capable of harnessing the energy of multiple universes.

Welcome to metaphysics! Leave your common sense at the door, and count your strings before entering.

No doubt a child of the increased popularity of string theory, the type V civilization would outgrow its own universe. It would span countless parallel universes, being able to manipulate the very structure of reality.

Find that hard to imagine in practical terms? You’re not alone. We’re all friends here. Have a cookie.

 

Type VI

Even more abstract is the type VI civilization. The type VI exists outside of time and space, and is capable of creating universes and multiverses, and destroying them just as easily. It’s similar in concept to a deity.

It’s hard to imagine a story with such a civilization, since its perfection and indestructible nature would offer little conflict potential. Unless, of course, you’re a lower type civilization waiting to be chewed, swallowed, and digested by one such type VI monstrosity. Recipe for paraversal tragedy.

 

Related post:

Blowing up the Kardashev Scale – The Black Hole Alternative

 

* * *

          This post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, April 2014.          

In 2012, my K post was — Kudos and Karma

116 Replies to “The KARDASHEV Scale (types 0 to VI)”

  1. This scale doesn’t seem to take into account human kind’s spiritual level (and I’m not talking about religion at all). You can be a big energy user but that doesn’t mean the human race is highly evolved. Right now, we are about to destroy ourselves.

    Like

  2. Well, I took the level 1-7 into a story, and wanted to make it work with the latest theories about the universe, string theory, etc. All find, but I found that the energy level was not sufficient to work with, it was only size. Therefor I played around with intelligence level and a few other scales as well.
    I came up with a few issues or scenarios to how you can scale without intelligence, and how you could have unlimited intelligence without scale. Basically it made sense that when intelligence reached a certain level, and you/it/they found a way to stay immortal, size did not matter that much anymore.
    Where size might matter if you strive for power (like immortality).

    Like

  3. Well, from what I read and what I know, I believe there are no Type III civilizations in this galaxy we live in. There are, very likely, Types I and II (if there are any at all), possibly presence of Types V or VI observers (although unlikely, there are probably individuals who watch the development of our galaxy just like we watch some documentaries). Now, why I think there are no Type threes: if you look at the parts of space we can observe, there are no specific structures, like constructs made of stars positioned in certain order, or solar system-sized objects, meaning that those are either very well hidden (unlikely) or there are simply none in this galaxy. That also explains why nobody visits Earth: Type I still cannot into (piloted) interstellar travels, Type II doesn’t want to waste resources on any random “monkey colony”. Type III might have visited just for the fun of it (it’s probably not every millennia that an intelligent species appear in a galaxy). But higher types are simply not interested in such affairs, they don’t care at all.

    Like

  4. Honorable Elijah Muhammad through Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhn

    Taught us God self created himself and Woman is the Second Self of God in womb of space.

    Woman is the key of the heavens, and she very advance, because her womb is sacred.

    She produces Gods or God Scientist, genius , scientist, rulers, kings, leaders,
    prophets, docters
    Engineers,
    Talents etc… female and male.

    There only One(God) Supreme Master All disciplines and Universe or parrelle or multi verse.

    Go to finalcall.com

    Like

  5. I have read few articles about the Kardashev scale and i find this subject very interesting, i have also found a very strange relationship with the big void visible in the cosmic microwave background. This cold spot could it be a type II or III civilization harnessing the energy of an entire galaxy? What are your thoughts on this matter.
    P.S
    love your blog.

    Like

  6. Always loved the concepts of each level on this scale. Didn’t realise it went up to Level 7. You did level 0-6. What would a level 7 civilization look like?

    Like

  7. Found your comments about the modified K-scale interesting and amusing. Thanks. The thing is, there are other concepts to consider about these types … like an instance I know of where someone developed blind-sight through a simple experiment (having his eyes covered with gauze pads, the pads covered with plastic eye patches and the patches covered with a folded up bandana). He was able to walk about as normal after three days and started reading his texts after five. This sort of transformation of the human species might jump past some of the K-scale types, given sufficient time and practice. Who knows.

    Like

  8. I have been listening to some podcasts and videos and I think this. We have to get to Type IV to escape this mega disaster that is coming. I saw this video that says that our galaxy the Milky Way is doomed to crash into its neighbour and doom our species to extinction. If we don’t advance to Type IV before this happens we as a people, as a species, will be doomed. So I think our governments better listen and put aside cost and other problems and try to accomplish this. If we could also listen to scientists about global warming we could further enhance our chances of survival. And we could get there much faster if our governments and the people in power could just set aside their differences and help humanity through the Great Filter and we will be able to finally worry about other matters!!!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s