Topics: Barrow Scale, Kardashev Scale, Exoplanets, SETI
The Kardashev Scale is a discussion, and ranking of civilizations based on energy output:
Type I: able to marshal energy resources for communications on a planet-wide scale, equivalent to the entire present power consumption of the human race, or about 1016 watts. Here, Carl Sagan begged to differ, due to power gradation, we’re more like (on his measure) a 0.7 civilization, or 7 x 1015 watts. We have pockets of deployed resources, but definitely not “planet-wide,” else there would be no economic distinctions: east/south side to west side; 1st and 3rd worlds. Perhaps we could edge up our score with renewable alternatives?
Type II: surpasses this by a factor of approximately ten billion, making available 1026 watts, by exploiting the total energy output of its central star, using a Dyson sphere.
Type III: evolved enough to tap the energy resources of an entire galaxy, ~ 1036 watts.
Type IV and V here.
Professor John D. Barrow is an astrophysicist and mathematician at Cambridge. His take is going not from the aspect of starships, instead of from ever-shrinking technology to make advanced control of energy, and technology possible.
On the Barrow Scale, we’re clearly in the Barrow Three minus or nanotechnology. Arthur C. Clarke said “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” and kind of gives a runway that is the impossible-to-design Trek technobabble.
Could we go further?
Well, that depends on whether the purveyors of this technological node haven’t blown ourselves to smithereens, [climate] changed ourselves to death, or ignored another zoonotic virus and comforted ourselves with throwing caution to the winds, taking vitamins, and jogging to the self-made apocalypse. Sorry for being cynical.
Also, each technological node is driven by industry, and at the top of that are apex predators also known as CEOs/billionaires who have a propensity to not share the resources they plunder. Also after seeing the Netflix documentary: “The Social Dilemma,” I wonder what an AI-enabled-Planck-technology Internet, or economy would LOOK like, and who would it ultimately favor? Billionaires don’t occur naturally, and trillionaires, quadrillion, or quintillion-empowered varieties would likely be tyrannical, and obscene.
Though this tech through-line is ambitious, bold, imaginative, it has a Pollyannaish feel to it, dependent on the benevolence of our fellow human beings, and a shared vision of humanity’s progress.
Then, there are those apex predators that won’t pay taxes, give a damn, or build starships so they can first ride on for their three minutes of narcissistic pleasure. Star Trek and a United Federation of Planets post-scarcity is still a Gene Roddenberry dream.