Home Curiosity The Kardashev Scale – Type I, II, III, IV & V Civilization

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


100 years from now will come the time for science to show us whether we will vanish or flourish- says the famous physicist and futurist Michio Kaku. The main question is, will we continue living as a Type 0 civilization or will we reach towards the stars?

According to experts, as one civilization grows and develops it needs more energy, due to the increased number of inhabitants and the energy demands of its numerous machines. In other words, if you want to measure how much a civilization has advanced you’ll need to focus on the amount of energy that the civilization can use.

Or as Kardashev said – a culture’s status depends on how much energy it uses and the development of its technology. He said that a civilization is as advanced as the amount of energy it can utilize. The more energy a society produces the more technologically advanced that civilization is. At the beginning this was only connected with energy available for communications but it has expanded ever since.

Get familiar with the Kardashev scale

As mentioned above, the Kardashev scale was created by the Russian astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev in 1964. The scale has 3 basic classes and each class has its own energy disposal level: Type I (10¹⁶W), Type II (10²⁶W), and Type III (10³⁶W). The scale was extended by other astronomers. Type IV (10⁴⁶W) and Type V (this type of civilization will have at its disposal not just the energy from our universe but also from all universes and in all time-lines).

But first, we should mention that unfortunately our civilization is still a Type 0 civilization. This is because we only use the energy from organic-based sources like coal, oil and wood. The rockets used by this civilization depend on chemical propulsion, so this way of traveling is really slow and the civilization is bound to spend all of their life on the home planet.

Now, let’s see towards what is our civilization striving to.

A Type I civilization is a bit more advanced than the one on the Earth. This civilization would be able to use the energy available on their planet and the energy from the neighboring star. It will be able to gather and store energy in order to meet the necessities of the growing population.

If we want to reach this level we would need to increase our current production of energy over 100,000 times.

So if we are able to utilize all Earth’s energy we would have the power to control all natural forces like the weather, volcanoes and earthquakes. At least, that’s the hope.

According to Kaku, in about 100-200 years there is a possibility that we will reach Type I civilization.

A Type II civilization would be able to use the power of their star. But not only transform the starlight into energy but actually control the star. There are a few methods how this could be achieved. A hypothetical “Dyson Sphere” is the most popular one. 

This “device” would circle every inch of the star, gather almost all of its energy output and transfer it to the planet so it can be used later. Alternatively if the race succeeds to master the fusion power (mechanism which powers stars), it could use a reactor in order to satisfy its needs. The reactor will orbit nearby gas giants, drain out their hydrogen and use it to produce power.

Possessing this much power would mean that nothing familiar to science could destroy a Type II civilization. Just imagine if humans succeeded in reaching this status and an object with the size of a moon was approaching our solar system we’d be able to vaporize it out of existence. Or we could also move the Earth if we had enough time, or even put Jupiter or any other planet into the way. How cool is that?

The Type III civilization will already know everything there is to know about utilizing energy, so they would become the master race. A hundreds or even thousands years of both mechanical and biological evolution the inhabitants of the Type III civilization will resemble almost nothing to the human race we know today.

They may be cyborgs or cybernetic organism which will be totally advanced for the wholly biological humans. These biological humans would be considered as disabled, inferior or not evolved enough by their cybernetic fellows.

Until then colonies of robots which are capable of “self replication” would have been developed. So they could quickly spread across the galaxy, conquering star after star. They could also build Dyson Spheres, create a huge network of them and bring energy back to the home planet.

However, spreading over the galaxy in that way will be constrained by the laws of physics. Light- speed travel would be a big problem unless they develop a working warp drive or master wormhole teleportation. Unfortunately both these things are just a theory for now.   

Type IV civilization is something that Kardashev thought is too much advanced and didn’t go over Type III on his scale. According to him Type III would be the limit of any species’ abilities.

However some still believe that there is a further level which can be achieved. The Type IV civilization would be able to utilize almost all the energy of the entire universe, so they could go over the accelerating expansion of space and advanced races of these species would be able to live inside massive black holes.

According to already known methods of generating energy, these accomplishments are unattainable. Such Type IV civilization would have to use odd or currently unknown laws of the physics. 

And finally Type V civilization would be the last advancement of the previous civilization. The population in this civilization would be God like. They would have the knowledge to manipulate the universe as they want.

Of course the human race is very far away from ever reaching even something close to this. But who knows what will happen in the future. We’ll have to stick around long enough and see what happens.

However, for that to be even possible, first we have to take care of the Earth and look after each other, preserve the environment, stop wars and of course invest more in scientific discoveries and education.