The Three Types of Civilizations. Where do we stand?

Noelia 12568 Wikimedia Commons

Nikolai Kardashev was a russian physicist and astronomer. He proposed a method of measuring any civilization’s level of technological advancement on the basis of energy consumed by them. This is particularly known as Kardashev Scale Or Kardashev Rating. These ratings range from Type 1 to Type 3, Type 1 being the lowest.

So, what do these ratings define? Intelligence? Advancement? Well, kind of both.

Consommations de Kardashev Wikimedia Commons

Let me explain each:

Type 1 Civilization: is the civilization which is capable of consuming all the resources and energy of the home planet. Earth! So, if we could discover everything about our planet and use all the resources at maximum capacity, we would technically be called a Type 1.

Terraformed Wikimedia Commons

Well, do we qualify to be called a Type 1?

Carl Sagan, the famous American Astrophysicist defined this scale into a formula:


in which, K is the civilization’s Kardashev Rating and P is the Power consumed by the civilization.

He also introduced a Type 0 Civilization, not originally defined by Kardashev, as the civilization which uses around 1 megawatts of power.

Apparently, in the 1970s, the total world energy consumption was about 10 terawatts which brought us to Type 0.7 Civilization.
In 2019, the consumption rose to about 18 terrawatts, bringing us merely to 0.73 on the scale.

Haha yes, even after sending people to the moon, planning to colonize mars, developing extremely smart AI systems, our civilization couldn’t even make it to the bottommost of the scale.

Type 2 Civilization:


A Type 2 Civilization is the one which is capable of extracting all the power of the host star. Yes, the bright shining Sun in our case.

So how do we extract power from Sun?

Have you ever noticed those man made rings around stars in so many Sci-Fi movies? Those are actually Dyson Rings, used to extract energy from the stars. The concept was originally suggested by the mathematician Freeman Dyson.


So, if humanity becomes capable enough to build one, we could extract Sun’s power and use it for our own daily consumption. Wait! there is more. We should be consuming this power not only on Earth but also on other planets of the Solar System. If we are able to consume all the resources of our own Solar System, terraforming each, mining asteroids, building space colonies, we would typically be called a Type 2 Civilization. HOW COOL IS THAT?

Type 3 Civilization:

Source: / Aperture

What if we could just hop on our spaceship and roam around the milky way? Maybe meet up with aliens from different solar systems? Or sell the orb to the highest bidder just like in Guardians of the Galaxy? Sounds too much Sci-Fi? Well, it actually is.

A Type 3 Civilization is the one which is capable of extracting all the power of all the stars in their host galaxy. If you were imagining that energy extracted from one star would be a huge number, try multiplying it by the number of stars in the galaxy. A civilization like this would have unlimited resources and would be least likely to go extinct.

Source: Mike Johnson / What if?

There are also some theories defining Type 4 and Type 5 Civilizations. These theories suggest that the Type 4 Civilization is capable of extracting all the energy of the Universe and Type 5 of the Multiverse( if there is one). Damn! that’s something out of our understanding as of now. These Civilizations could be capable of things which we believe are impossible, like time travel to the past?

Although, there are no theories defining the exact time humanity would take to progress on the scale but the famous physicist Michio Kaku predicted that we could become a Type 1 in the next 100–200 years. Type 2 in the next 1000–100000 years and Type 3 in the next 100,000 to 1 million years.

These are the levels of civilizations, or basically future of humanity?



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