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Type 1, 2, & 3 Civilizations

  1. Sep 7, 2003 #1
    Type 1, 2, & 3 Civilizations

    Note to newcomers: This is a very old thread that does not meet the current forum guidelines and has therefore been closed.

    In the excellent book entitled, "Hyperspace", theorical physicist Michio Kaku mentioned about three kinds of civilizations:

    Type 1, 2, & 3 Civilizations

    Type I – this civilization harnesses the energy output of an entire planet.

    Type II – this civilization harnesses the energy output of a star, and generates about 10 billion times the energy output of a Type I civilization.

    Type III – this civilization harnesses the energy output of a galaxy, or about 10 billion time the energy output of a Type II civilization.

    A Type I civilization would be able to manipulate truly planetary energies. They might, for example, control or modify their weather. They would have the power to manipulate planetary phenomena, such as hurricanes, which can release the energy of hundreds of hydrogen bombs. Perhaps volcanoes or even earthquakes may be altered by such a civilization.

    A Type II civilization may resemble the Federation of Planets seen on the TV program Star Trek (which is capable of igniting stars and has colonized a tiny fraction of the near-by stars in the galaxy). A Type II civilization might be able to manipulate the power of solar flares.

    A Type III civilization may resemble the Borg, or perhaps the Empire found in the Star Wars saga. They have colonized the galaxy itself, extracting energy from hundreds of billions of stars.

    By contrast, we are a Type 0 civilization, which extracts its energy from dead plants (oil and coal). Growing at the average rate of about 3% per year, however, one may calculate that our own civilization may attain Type I status in about 100-200 years, Type II status in a few thousand years, and Type III status in about 100,000 to a million years. These time scales are insignificant when compared with the universe itself.

    On this scale, one may now rank the different propulsion systems available to different types of civilizations:

    Type 0
    Chemical rockets
    Ionic engines
    Fission power
    EM propulsion (rail guns)

    Type I
    Ram-jet fusion engines
    Photonic drive

    Type II
    Antimatter drive
    Von Neumann nano probes

    Type III
    Planck energy propulsion

    It's encouraging to know that we will reach Type 1 within one hundred years, but how about Type 2? Michio Kaku stated that it would take several thousands of years. However, given our recent rapid developments in science and technology, I think that we will reach Type 2 status within 1,000 years.

    What does everyone else thinks?

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 1, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2003 #2
    Should be in Theoretical Physics, at best Pseudo Science at worst.
  4. Sep 8, 2003 #3


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    BS from a physicist, now that's interesting. (-:
  5. Sep 8, 2003 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Not a physicist, an engineer. I deal with what IS, not what might maybe be.
  6. Sep 8, 2003 #5

    When I first posted this I did so in the Theorical Physics section, however, one of the administrators decided to put it here.

  7. Sep 8, 2003 #6


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    I am seeing von neuman nanoprobes and antimatter power as being more plausible that photonic drives... whatever that is. But antimatter is only an intermediary.

    Sounds fun-ish for a computer game. Very unsure of reality...
  8. Sep 9, 2003 #7
    Interesting. I would think that for it to be in technology, it should be technologically possible now, and this post deals with possible future technology.

    Oh well. Dealing with your original question. The very idea that we have catagorized these potential future technologies leads me to think that they are someday attainable, and perhaps not as far off as proposed. "If you can dream it, you can do it."

    I think we need to find a way for civilization to survive long enough, unbroken, to advance that far.
  9. Sep 9, 2003 #8
    I don't think energy output is the most important way to measure levels of technology. The really interesting technologies are the ones that allow manipulation of matter on smaller scales and in more complex ways, at least for the foreseeable future. (When I say "smaller scales", I don't mean "so small you need a solar system sized particle accelerator to reach them".)

    For example, why would you need to harness the energy output of a star to build Von Neumann nanoprobes?
  10. Sep 10, 2003 #9
    Type one civilization

    I can only hope that the human race can grow out of it's infancy quick enough, so it has the potential to reach type one civilization. I hate to sound like a doomsayer, but do you think this may come to fruition? I certainly hope so! I agree that we may get to type one within a hundred years. I think we are almost 1/2 of the way there already.

    Type ll In a thousand years? Maybe...

    With those type's of resources at our disposal, we may be a looking at at mix of type ll and lll.
    Kind of like a "saturn five" scenario.

    " The only way you can be sure your dreams are free to fly into the realm of reality, is to make sure you always leave the cage door open. "
  11. Sep 13, 2003 #10
    I feel that the purpose and general statements of the idea are good, but they're attempting to go about this the wrong way. The problem is that we're only able to concieve of so much technology. Generally speaking, 90% of what we prophicize is vastly under-done. So, of course, they're thinking on the largest possible scale they can here.

    Using the energy consumption as a basis of measure is interesting, but surely these can't be the only way to harness energy? Why would a star have to provide energy? There is so much that we can't even imagine that any attempt to try and perceive of a society that far down the road is useless.

    The type III civilization seems a bit closer to reality because it deals more ideas and concepts than the technology used to attain them. There's not really an attempt to theorize how the rips in space-time would be achieved, mearly that they would be.

    It's too vague in some aspects, and an attempt to be too precise in other. They're only looking at physics really, but the way future fields will intertwine (as they already are) means that you can't theorize using only one set of concepts.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2003
  12. Oct 5, 2003 #11
    I think that the idea is not to necessarily utilize and manipulate the energies of plantes, stars, and galaxies but to utilize energies produced on those levels.

    The idea here is explaining the available technologies at the disposal of type I,II,and III civilizations. We can't build Van Neumann nanoprobes yet because we don't have those technologies at our great disposal. As energy requirements grow, so shall our techology.
  13. Oct 5, 2003 #12


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    I agree. Beren mentioned the difficulty of imagining future technologies, and I think Kaku's classification of energy use is intended as an aid to visualizarion. The response of those who think that say, complexity rather than energy is the key would be to work out levels of civilization based on that. The trouble there is that nature gives us nice "powers of ten" scaling examples in energy - stars, galaxies, etc. but we are ourselves the most complex things we know. Not much guide to the future there!
  14. Oct 10, 2003 #13
    Greater control of energy and (other) technological advances both take time, but if we don't have accurate estimates of exactly what advance will happen when and in what order, and if this can vary a lot for different civilizations, then we have no way to "calibrate" mostly unrelated events like large-scale space engineering and the development of mature nanotechnology to each other.

    How do you know the time to develop a Von Neumann probe is around the same as the time to control the energy output of the solar system? That doesn't even seem likely.

    I suspect some people reason as follows: "Hmm, Von Neumann nanoprobes would allow you to colonize the galaxy (etc. etc.), so they're rather powerful and futuristic, so they belong in the far future, let's say type II". This is of course the wrong way to think. Reality does not care how far-reaching the consequences of a technology are; it cares whether it works, as a physical system.

    The universe is not a science fiction novel that has to balance everything out and make for an exciting humanly understandable plot.


    I have no problem with this so long as what you're visualizing is only the sheer size of a civilization, the amount of energy it has access to, and whether it can do stuff that requires horrible amounts of energy. As soon as you take energy use as a general indicator of technological advancement and visualize a civilization based on it, you end up with space-opera type monkeys-in-starships scenarios. (Star Trek syndrome)

    In my opinion, most of the truly interesting technologies that have been speculated about (nanotech, biotech, cybernetics, artificial intelligence, intelligence enhancement, practical immortality) do not depend on our controlling the energy of the entire planet or even the entire solar system. I think if these are physically possible (and if we don't blow ourselves up), they will happen far earlier than the transition to Type II or Type III civilization. (Maybe not Type I.)

    I agree---creating a more helpful scale of technological advancement is very difficult, if at all possible.

    That does not mean we should use a misleading scale like Kardashev Typology, though. (Kardashev thought of it back in the early sixties, so he can probably be excused.)

    (I also think the really interesting question is whether we can reach Kardashev Type Infinity. :) )
  15. Oct 10, 2003 #14


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    I find prophesying about the future, beyond about 30 years is not very useful. It has rarely been done well, and those who have been accurate have been ignored. I do not drive a flying car. I do not eat "meal pills" in lieu of food. I do not wear a skin-tight silver unitard. Disease still exists. Nuclear weapons have not made war impossible.

    When we can predict the technology of 30 years in the future, then looking ahead 100 years might serve some purpose. Looking ahead 1000 years is no different than concocting a world of pure fantasy.

  16. Oct 10, 2003 #15
    You make a very good point, njorl. The thing about Prof. Kaku is that he seems to really like the idea of science-fiction becoming science fact. This tendency is manifested in all of his books and particularly so in his lecture, Journey Through the Tenth Dimension (as well as his part in the video, Me & Isaac Newton).
  17. Oct 10, 2003 #16


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    I too like to think about what avenues science might take, what esoterica of modern physics might yield a world changing technology, but putting timetables on innovation is a good way to look silly. On the other hand, by the time you do look silly, you're dead!

  18. Oct 11, 2003 #17


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    What exactly is Planck energy propulsion and Von Neumann nano probes?


    worked out what van neumann nano probes are,
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2003
  19. Oct 12, 2003 #18
    I never heard of this classification system, it reminds me of what Tesla was working on with some giant tower that would turn the world into a dynamo and give off free energy, but J.P. Morgan backed out because where would we put the meter? I may not remember this correctly. I live 2 miles north of his old laboratory site, but it was torn down, I wish it hadn't been. I think a type one civilization would better be defined as first having learned to control themselves sufficiently and maybe the key sign of that would be free energy of some sort, after that it is more likely to me that the universe has already been conquered and we are like some backwards tribe living on Hawaii or way the hell out there. Maybe they have some basic non-interference policy, if I were looking down on some hostile planet of apes blowing each other to bits I would think twice about giving them any more technology, it wouldn't do any good to give them a means to greatly increase their numbers if they were genetically still designed to lead to great destruction of each other later on and who would we be to go to another planet of non-space traveling life and give them nuclear technology for energy or bombs?
  20. Oct 29, 2003 #19
    Type 1, 2, & 3 Civilizations

    After having witnessed an appearance by Prof. Kaku in Switzerland recently I have just joined this forum and I must say, I am a bit confused about the discussion on Planck-energy. Prof. Kaku mentioned that a class III civ. could make use of a massive black hole, say in the center of it's galaxy, and draw vast amounts of energy therefrom.

    But what is it with this Planck-energy thing?

    Pssst! I can tell You confidentially, I have found out that members of that mysterious Planck-energy club do already live secretly amongst us. They make use of the Planck-energy on a regular basis and they travel between different realms by passing automatic doors.

    How do I know? Well, I have to, because I am one of them!

    You don't believe me? I can prove it! Wanna see my monthly energy bill?

    The Planck-energy is about 1,22E^19 GeV = 1,22E^28 eV. Converted to J (Joule) this means roughly 2 billion J (1,9546563426E^9 J). Here in Europe we pay energy bills by kWh used (kiloWatt*hours). Those 2 GJ correspond to roughly 543 kWh, which is about my monthly energy consumption from my electricity net provider. Each time I fill up my gasoline tank the combustion value of the fuel is roughly 1,5 additional Planck-energy equivalents and the automatic doors I travel through are those of elevators.

    So, what is the secret? We all are "masters of the Planck-energy" and, believe me, we don't need a black hole for it.

    Are we all Type III now? You must be kidding!

    Obviously, there must be a fundamental misunderstandig about what Prof. Kaku is saying. Unfortunately I haven't read one of his books yet. I surmise that he is saying, a Type III civ would be able to accelerate/manipulate single particles at that energy level and thereby somehow bend space-time in a way to create macroscopic wormholes that would look radically different from the "Stargate"-fantasy.
  21. Oct 29, 2003 #20


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    Planck energy is the unit of energy (or equivalently, mass) in the Planck system of units. Now whereas the Planck length and the Planck time, also units, come out extremely, indeed unimaginably small, nevertheless the Planck energy comes out large on quantum scales. In fact the Planck energy is almost perceivable by unaided human senses. So I suppose some people think Planck energy big - opportunity for technology, which is off the point because it's just a unit. Can you do more work with a given amount of energy if it's denominated in Joules rather than ergs? Is a distance expressed in miles longer than the same distance expressed in kilometers?
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