Humans are obsessed with self-consciousness. This means that humans love to label the contents of their reality, as it allows them to engage in the illusion that separation exists.
In reality, everything is interconnected in the universe. There is only one thing that exists, and humans conceptualize it into parts in order to appreciate its beauty.
One way of distinguishing reality is to break it down into types of civilizations.
The Russian astronomer Nikolai Kardashev was one of the first to popularize this method, introducing three main types of civilization. This is called the Kardashev Scale.
In this article, these three types of civilizations are discussed. Then, possible futures of the planet are discussed as well as the drawbacks of using these classifications. Towards the end of the article, some final thoughts are presented regarding Type 3 civilizations.
An Overview of the Kardashev Scale
A Type 1 civilization is also known as a planetary civilization. These kinds of societies are able to harness and store all of the energy that arrives at the planet from its parent star.
For earth, this means being able to harness and store the energy from the sun.
Many experts, like Michio Kaku, believe that the current human civilization is about 100-200 years away from reaching the status of a type 1 civilization.
This means that humans are currently experiencing a Type 0 civilization. The amount of energy necessary to earn a civilization the status of Type 1 is about five times as much as the energy that is currently attained on earth.
A Type 2 civilization is also known as stellar civilization. These types of civilizations can make use of all the energy available from its parent star, regardless of how much is able to reach the planet.
Many different methods have been proposed to fully maximize the energy potential of the sun. For example, Dyson spheres have been proposed, which would encompass the sun and transfer all of its energy to the earth for usage.
Though it’s difficult to predict, many experts think that the current human society is thousands of years away from a Type 2 civilization.
An Overview of Type 3 Civilizations and Beyond
A Type 3 civilization is also known as a galactic civilization. This type of society would be able to harness all the available energy in a particular galaxy or universe.
Some experts think that the only way to ascend to a Type 3 civilization is to harness the energy of supermassive black holes. These mysteries of science are thought to exist at the center of most galaxies.
Some experts think humans are a mere 100,000 years away from this kind of civilization while other experts claim humans are still millions of years away.
Regardless of the length of time, Type 3 civilizations represent a level of technological advancement that is difficult for current humans to comprehend. This level of civilization might entail the fusion of humans and robots. This fusion could lead to the ability to master the galaxy.
While Kardashev ended his scale at three types of civilizations, some futurists have proposed additional categorizations.
For example, a Type 4 civilization might be able to harness the energy of the entire universe while a Type 5 civilization might be able to harness the energy of all the universes that have ever existed.
This is hard to wrap your head around, though many futurists think the future will be that inconceivable.
What is the Future of Human Civilization?
Despite these categorizations, the future of human civilization is difficult to predict.
This is because the future heavily depends on the present, which is constantly in flux.
Some futurists think that global warming could impact human civilization. This doesn’t mean that humans will necessarily become extinct. Rather, it might mean that humans will have to move to another planet.
This is because of how humans currently rely on non-renewable resources. Many people are aware of the classic non-renewable resources like oil, gas, and coal. These are dangerous because their extraction methods harm the environment.
Also, when they are burned, they release excessive carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which can lead to a state of planetary imbalance. Of course, maintaining the balance of the planet is critical when maximizing the longevity of the human species.
Yet, not as many people are familiar with dietary non-renewable resources like animal products. Humans cannot produce enough animal products for proper nourishment without severely compromising the ecosystem.
For example, a pig might take 3-5 years to raise for slaughter. Yet, the meat that it provides might only feed a family for several weeks. That is truly an unsustainable method of agriculture.
If humans continue to rely on animal products for sustenance, then humans might never even reach a Type 1 civilization, let alone a Type 2 or Type 3 civilization.
Yet, if humans adopt a plant-based diet, achieving a Type 1, 2, or 3 civilization is much more feasible.
Plant-based diets are much more sustainable for feeding a large population. They are also more ethical since they don’t entail the cruel treatment of animals as well as their brutal slaughter. This means less guilt and more mental clarity for innovating new technologies. This technology will lead to a more advanced human civilization.
The Drawbacks of Kardashev Scale
The Kardashev Scale has some drawbacks that are worth noting.
First, some critics think this scale places too much weight on external factors like harvesting energy from the sun, galaxy, and universe. Yet, the future could entail more of an inward journey in which a different kind of energy is harvested.
Some experts think the mind is the next frontier of human exploration. In this sense, it might make more sense to distinguish types of civilizations based on their capability for mental energy rather than their capability for physical energy.
Just imagine if your thoughts are able to power your technology in the future. If this happens, then Kardashev’s categorizations would be almost meaningless.
Some experts think that harvesting mental energy is actually more ideal than harvesting physical energy, as this could be a cleaner, simpler, more powerful kind of energy.
In this sense, utilizing Kardashev’s distinctions might actually prevent you from exploring a deeper part of yourself. If humans used Kardashev’s scale to set their agenda, then a major realm of the universe could remain unexplored, namely the mental realm.
Some people also critique Kardashev’s scale for focusing too much on the future. Instead, some people argue that humans should be focusing all of their energy on living in the present moment. Thinking about the nature of the human species thousands or millions of years in the future could be an ungrounding activity that makes humans forget all that is currently valuable.
Of course, some future thinking might be necessary for survival. However, an excessive level of thinking about the future could lead to anxiety and irrational decision making. Sometimes the solution to all of your problems is right in front of you, staring you in the face.
Final Thoughts on Type 3 Civilizations
Type 3 civilizations are certainly a compelling notion, as they would entail total mastery over the known galaxy.
However, some people claim that Kardashev’s scale represents an illusory way of thinking that will never manifest. These people claim that humans often seek to control everything around them rather than surrendering to their environment, both external and internal.
This controlling way of thinking could lead to a great disconnect in the future between the human species and other organisms. This could lead to the extinction of all known organisms, which would of course not be a desirable situation.
Alternatively, some futurists don’t value current life at all. In their minds, the extinction of all known organisms might not be a bad thing. Instead, they think it might be a necessary part of an eternal cycle. They say that mass extinction might be necessary to make way for a new form of existence rooted purely in love, connection, and trust rather than fear, separation, and paranoia.
In the end, just because these civilization distinctions have been created by someone doesn’t mean they should influence your life or your desires. Progress might consist of simplifying our practices and lives rather than such overt levels of expansion and control.