What If Humanity Was A Type Four Civilization? | Unveiled

VOICE OVER: Noah Baum WRITTEN BY: Dylan Musselman
What would humanity be like if it was Level 4 on the Kardashev Scale? In this video, Unveiled takes a dramatic trip into the future to discover how the human race would change and evolve if it ever hoped to be a Type IV Civilization. We're talking a whole universe's worth of power and energy here, so hold on to your hats!

What If Humanity Was A Type Four Civilization?

For millions of years human beings have been inventing, discovering, and understanding different aspects of our universe. But we still have so much left to learn.

This is Unveiled and today we’re answering the extraordinary question; What if humanity was a type four civilization?

In 1964, the Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev devised a way to measure how advanced a civilization is. It became known as the Kardashev scale, and it theorizes that because civilizations tend to need more energy the more they grow, we can measure how advanced a society is by measuring the amount of energy they are able to harness. Kardashev originally foresaw three levels of advancement: Type One, Type Two, and Type Three civilizations. Since then, however, his scale has been extended by others, and more levels have been added; including Types Zero, Four, and Five - with some speculating about even Type Six, which would be far, far beyond what even Kardashev thought possible. Today, our focus is Type Four, which is seen by some as potentially the last stop for progression.

So, what can a type four civilization do? For starters, they can do everything that Types One, Two, and Three can. A Type One civilization is able to fully harness the energy of its home planet and enjoy complete control over it. For humanity, that would mean being able to build cities on the ocean, to perfectly manage Earth’s weather, and being able to predict (and even prevent) natural disasters like volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and hurricanes. A Type Two civilization can do all of that but also harness the full energy of its home star, which is the sun in our case. Now, humanity would have a megastructure like a Dyson Sphere around the sun to gather all of its energy, and we’d also likely have bases on multiple solar system planets. Type Three would be even more advanced, harnessing not only its home star and planet, but all of the stars and planets in its galaxy. Long distance, interstellar space travel would almost certainly have been invented as, for us, we’d have branches of humanity scattered across the Milky Way. The physicist Michio Kaku has previously compared a Type Three civilization to something like the “Star Wars” universe.

But then comes Type Four, where we would be doing all those things and more. A Type Four civilization can not only harness all of the power of its home galaxy, but of the entire universe. In terms of energy potential, we’re in the big, big leagues now! But how much energy is in the universe?

Actually, many physicists would argue that the total energy in the universe equals out to, well, zero. This is due to the presence of positive and negative energy throughout the cosmos, and the predicted balance between the two. No one knows the amount of positive energy there is, but it’s theorised that there is enough negative energy to match it. None of that would really matter to a Type Four civilization though, as it would be able to identify and use to its advantage all energy in every form - that’s including the so far ultra-mysterious dark energy. We’re basically talking unlimited power here.

Were humanity to reach this level then our civilization will’ve spread out across the entire universe, collecting, recycling and repurposing all of the energy from every single planet and star in every single star system in every single galaxy as efficiently as possible. We would have a complete map of the universe (although, probably an ultra-futuristic map digitally stored in our collective minds, rather than the 2D paper maps of today) and we would know the location of every star and planet (and be able to travel to and from them with ease). Galaxies, in this world, would be viewed more like how we see towns, cities and countries today; different, yes… but, easy to visit. We’d also have as clear as possible an understanding of what other life exists in the universe, and where. The SETI search for extraterrestrial intelligence would no doubt still run in the background, but we will have essentially completed it. For a Type Four society, all aliens are known, and nothing is unknown.

A Type Four civilization would have many different forms of technology at its disposal, too. Most of them, for us as we are (at around 0.7 on the Kardashev Scale), are impossible to predict… but some form of faster than light travel would, by this stage, be a given. Which means it would take us next to no time to travel through space. But, it could possibly go further than that, with Type Four Humanity able to manipulate spacetime to its will, and access time travel. The logistics of time travel are famously difficult to comprehend, to the point that some believe it might not ever be possible purely because of the numerous paradoxes and dangers it entails. If it is to ever be possible, though, then a Type Four civilization would probably have it.

Teleportation is a different, slightly more feasible matter, however. It already exists in the quantum world, so it doesn’t feel like too big a stretch that a far-future society (one with a whole universe’s worth of energy) should have developed it for use in the macro world - with whole human beings, whole animals, whole skyscrapers getting zapped from one place to another. In fact, the advent of teleportation might even prove to be what pushes Type Three humanity into Type Four… because it would be the thing which allows humans to visit other planets or galaxies - to travel the universe - in an instant. Before teleportation, we will have relied on traditional, physical travel… after teleportation, even the most advanced of spaceships might not be needed, and the entire cosmos opens up to us.

Taking vacation in the Andromeda galaxy might be a common occurrence for a Type Four being based in the solar system, in the Milky Way. But, really, there’s nothing to say that any Type Four humans would still live in this particular region of space. Say, in the future, we really do get to Type Four, by that time the solar system could’ve changed completely… and it might only be remembered as a kind of homeland, rather than anywhere we actually lived anymore. And, as we stretched further and further away, we might have made homes on more than just the billions and billions of planets out there… A civilization this advanced might even be living inside (or close to) stellar, supermassive or ultramassive black holes. We’d almost certainly be living in extremely close proximity to stars, at least, on the Dyson Spheres and Swarms that would encircle them. Type Four humanity will’ve mastered the universe and everything in it, even the things - like black holes - which are totally mysterious to us today… so nothing would be off limits.

Although many of these potential feats feel like they belong firmly in the realm of science fiction, there are some who believe that type four civilizations could already exist… with evidence supposedly found in the giant voids in space that we already know about, like the CMB cold spot. This cold spot is more than three billion light-years across and can’t be easily explained away by modern theories on the universe, but there are various suggestions that it could be evidence of parallel universes… which are then seen as proof that another advanced civilization is on the outside looking in and affecting our universe in some way. If such a civilization really were to exist, then it will’ve actually gone beyond Type Four and into Type Five on the Kardashev Scale… meaning even an all-knowing Type Four humanity would have some limits placed upon it. But, nevertheless, there would still be nothing left to discover in our universe, and nothing left to explore... so, if this was our limit, perhaps we as a species could die quite happily.

But would we actually need to? Probably not. In fact, there are a number of different ways that a Type Four civilization could become basically immortal. For one, its sheer prevalence in the universe would better its chances of never dying out. Short of a universe wide disaster - like vacuum decay - extinction events just wouldn’t be as terminal to a Type Four species as a whole. Meanwhile, a Type Four human might well be individually immortal, too. It’s thought highly likely that, by this stage, technology will have reached a point where we’d be either partly or fully cyborg, with our minds implanted into synthetic bodies to prevent aging. And even if we still had organic bodies, they will’ve been enhanced to the point of invincibility. It would be a good thing, then, that we’d have the whole universe at our disposal, because before long we would definitely need the space! Overall, Type Four humankind would be an all-powerful master species, living all across the universe as we know it, harnessing all of its energy, living close to forever, and probably manipulating the very laws of spacetime itself to suit any purpose we like.

It wouldn’t be a bad life, would it… and it’s difficult to imagine that anything more advanced than Type Four could even be theorised. But it has been. And some do consider the possibility of a Type Five civilization, covering for those hypothetical, outside-looking-in creatures mentioned earlier. Such beings would not only have mastered their own universe but also the proposed multiverse as well. They’ll have essentially achieved godhood as they play with the fundamental rules of physics and nature to create multiple versions of their own customized universes… maybe just for fun. But you’ll have to check out our other video to find out what it would be like if humans ever reached that point!

In the meantime, we still have a long way to go before we even begin to significantly conquer the Kardashev Scale… but that’s what would happen if humanity was a Type Four civilization.