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Kardashev Civilizations: Star Trek-like world in our future
Dick Pelletier   Feb 5, 2013   Ethical Technology  

Imagine if you could enjoy an exotic vacation billions of light years from Earth; or travel back in time to observe the dinosaurs in their violent world; or hop into a parallel universe where another you is living a better life than you; and you could swap places if you like.

For years, scientists have bandied about ideas that future humans will one day harness wormholes to zip across the universe at faster-than-light speeds, travel backwards in time, and visit parallel universes.

Now, researchers at the Cern Particle Accelerator believe they can recreate conditions like the "big bang," which brought time and space into existence, and create wormholes; elements that many believe may validate the concept of developing FTL travel and venturing backwards through time. In this Mail Online article, physicist Stephen Hawking explains how in the far future, a time machine could be built.

In 1964, astronomer Nikolai Kardashev devised a method to categorize advanced civilizations based on energy consumption. Type I utilizes all solar energy that strikes its planet, Type II controls all the energy in its solar system, and Type III harnesses power from every star in its galaxy. Others have since added Type IV, which masters the energy output of thousands of galaxies.

Physicists' rate today's humans at Type 0.7, but as we move through the last half of the 21st century, breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and molecular nanotechnology, are expected to help us solve many of our problems, such as erasing the gap between haves and have nots and curing most diseases.

Other areas of advancement expected this century, include a better insight into the mind, which could lead to eliminating much of the evil found in criminals, sociopaths, and others that would harm society; and in addition, ending wars and conflicts caused by religious ideologies and competition for resources. This ten-minute PBS News Hour segment details some of our progress that may soon become reality.

In the Runaway Universe, author Don Goldsmith reminds us that Earth receives only one billionth of the suns energy, and we utilize just one millionth of that. With future molecular nanotech to resolve most of our resource issues, and artificial intelligence to correct many of our social deficiencies, forward-thinkers believe that by 2100, Earthlings could reach Type I.

The following predicts the dates when we might achieve each new level, and the benefits gained:

Type I, 2100. At this level, we will capture all of the solar energy striking our planet, which will increase today's energy supply by 100 billion. Advances in molecular nanotech and development of warp-drive propulsion will trigger a rush to space, resulting in unheard of cooperation between nations; creating a peaceful global society more intent on exploring the cosmos than quarreling over cultural conflicts.

Type II, 2200. Exponentially-advancing technologies could help humanity achieve this level over the next two hundred years. Circling the Sun with a Dyson-like sphere, we mine all the energy in our solar system, increasing power 100 billion-fold again. We build colonies throughout our solar system, and on planets orbiting nearby stars. This video highlights the immenseness of our space neighborhood.

Type III, 3000. We increase energy supply another 100-billion-fold. In his book, Parallel Worlds, Michio Kaku says Type III's derive power from every star in their galaxy and learn to control unstable time and space. We traverse wormholes through vast distances; and after resolving paradox issues where time traveler's actions cause changes in the present, we can now launch backward time travel trips without fears of disruption. And like the sci-fi Star Trek, we're eager "to boldly go where no man has gone before."

Type IV, 12000. Wild dreams now become possible as we approach the ultimate limits of our journey. After 10 millennia, we control power from thousands of galaxies, and can visit our "other selves" in parallel worlds; or roam the "multiverse" in our species' never-ending quest for more intelligence.

Could a "magical future" unfold in such a bold timeframe? Although it took 2 million years for us to leave the safety of the forests and build a modern civilization, it may take only a few hundred years to leave our friendly solar system and begin this incredible adventure to the stars. Comments welcome.

Dick Pelletier was a weekly columnist who wrote about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He passed away on July 22, 2014.


If I visit another self in a parallel universe who is living a better life than mine, what incentive would he have to switch places?


By the time universe hopping technology arrives; probably when we Earthlings reach Type III Civilization status in about 1,000 years or so; our minds may not use anything like today’s reasoning, but who knows? Your other you may know something that you don’t.

Accurately predicting the future this far in advance is impossible. I guess we need to rely on science fiction for the answers.

Comments welcome.

@ Dick Pelletier

I think you evaded rmk948’s question rather than answered it.

@Christian Corralejo,

Yes, I did evade his question. Armed only with today’s 2013 mushy biological intelligence, I cannot even imagine how the human mind may operate in year 3000.

With that same “mushy biological intelligence” (you guys really under credit the brain) you’re automatically assuming that reason would somehow radically change in just 1000 years.  Look, we’ve been around for about 200,000 years and the general process of reasoning hasn’t really seemed to have change much.  Correct me if I’m wrong and if you have valid sources to support that notion, because transhumanist bias won’t cut it (no offense, really).

“Look, we’ve been around for about 200,000 years and the general process of reasoning hasn’t really seemed to have change much.”

Seemed? you mean to write reasoning has not changed much. So what do we have to lose by de-animalising?

@ Christian Corralejo,

I see the future advancing exponentially. Let’s just agree to disagree.

@ Dick Pelleteir

Fair enough

@ Intomorrow

That’s not my point but I dropping it for now.

Going back to the original question, why would anyone have to switch lives? Maybe the one with the least satisfactory life could just stay with his counterform in the better universe? Or just try again in another universe?

Logic, boys and girls, logic. (Yes, I know I’m probably going to regret this comment! But let’s try and keep each other as logical as humans can, eh?)

When enhanced minds become available (minds that process iinformation millions of times faster than today’s mushy biological brains); our reasoning power may be as different from 2013 humans as we are from our cave-dweller ancestors.

In addition, how can we possibly imagine the differences in civilizations grown in parallel worlds?

The possibilities are great to ponder though.

“our reasoning power may be as different from 2013 humans as we are from our cave-dweller ancestors.”

I don’t think you’d find as much difference between 2013 humans and our “cave-dwelling ancestors” when it comes to reasoning.  Sure we know more but we still use general logic and reason.  On top of that just because we no more doesn’t mean were any more intelligent then our ancestors were.  Heck their brains were larger in volume than ours and we use technology to do most of our work and thinking for us.

Processing thoughts millions of times faster will allow us to bring up hundreds of simulated responses within a split second; then select the response that serves us best.

This mental trait will enable huge advances in humanity’s decision making and reasoning abilities.

As many technologies are advancing exponentially, it’s difficult to compare tomorrow’s society with today’s crude biologically-brained humans.

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