You get grades in school and promotions at work but ever wonder how a civilizations performance is measured? The Kardashev scale is a method of measuring a civilization’s level of technological advancement, based on the amount of energy a civilization is able to use for communication. It was proposed in 1964 by the Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev. He concluded that the status of a civilization is the product of two things: energy and technology. Basically, what he meant was that the more a civilization advanced its level of technology, the more it could harness energy and the more energy a civilization harnessed, the more it would make technological advancements. He believed that society would only get as far as its technology and its ability to harness energy would let it.
In 1964, Kardashev classified the three levels of civilization according to the level of technology and its ability to harness energy in his paper ‘Transmission of Information by Extra-terrestrial Civilizations’. This scale was introduced in the 60’s and consisted of a planetary level, a stellar level, and a galactic level. In the current generation, these have been slightly edited and more categories have been proposed. Let's take a look at the Kardashev’s scale: -
Type 0: This is a sub-global culture that still gets its energy from raw materials. They are not yet capable of colonizing other planets. Earth comes in this category.
Type I: This is a planetary culture a half step above the earth. This type of civilization can harness all its planets’ energy and utilize all available resources. Humans may take another 100 – 200 years to reach here.
Type II: Stellar cultures are what make up Type II. They are a civilization that has advanced so much that they can harness all the energy from its star. For example, the stage of successful construction of a Dyson sphere. Humanity may be a few thousand years away from this level.
Type III: A galactic culture which can harness the energy of an entire galaxy. A civilization in possession of energy on the scale of its own galaxy, The astronomer Guillermo A. Lemarchand stated this as a civilization with access to the power comparable to the luminosity of the entire Milky Way galaxy. According to futurism that's about 10 billion times the energy of a Type II civilization, and about a million years more advanced than humans are.
Type IV: A Universal culture would be able to harness all the universe’s energy. A civilization at this stage could change the shape of space and time. Such a civilization approaches or surpasses the limits of speculation based on current scientific understanding. Type IV civilizations would almost be able to harness the energy content of the entire universe and with that, they could traverse the accelerating expansion of space (Furthermore, advance races of these species may live inside supermassive black holes). Zoltán Galántai has argued that such a civilization could not be detected, as its activities would be indistinguishable from the workings of nature (there being nothing to compare them to).
Type V: A multiverse culture which is literally impossible to imagine. Where a civilization has transcended its origin universe. 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.
Type VI: This is a culture which is even more abstract. It would exist beyond time and space and would be capable of creating universes and multi verses and destroying them. A concept much like a deity.
The scale is hypothetical and regards energy consumption on a cosmic scale. But If we are to imagine extra-terrestrial life, we should be able to categorize them according to their advancement. It is a little disheartening to know that humanity has not even reached the Type I stage yet, but it is not impossible. The first step would be to protect and preserve our tiny home, get rid of wars and disputes and continue to support scientific advances and discoveries.