I was watching a program today, one of those I’ve seen pieces of many times like that, about the deep future – Year Million I believe it’s called. There was a lot of talk of Dyson spheres and the Kardashev Scale, and how people will have moved into cyberworld entirely, leaving our corporeal existences behind and reveling in the painless bliss of a digital existence.
The Kardashev Scale strikes me as a ridiculous scale, on a couple of levels. A type 1 advanced civilization, according to the good professor K, is one which manages to use all the energy of its own home planet. A type 2 has harvested all the energy of its solar system (that’s where the Dyson sphere comes in) and a type 3 has harvested the energy of a whole galaxy. Isn’t that just a little bit greedy?
I mean, the whole mark of a civilization, according to Kardashev, is how much it can consume. Not whether it can produce great music, or great literature, or beautiful paintings and sculptures. Not whether it can create a just society, or an intelligent and knowledgeable society, living and trading between hundreds of planetary utopias living in harmony. Not whether it can sustain its own existence out to a theoretical eternity by living in harmony with the natural universe, but whether we can quash it. It is the worst instincts of mankind, codified.
In addition, of course, it’s just a scale made up by some guy, with very little bearing on where we are at our current stage of development.