Why Humans Will Never Be Type V</h4>
On the Kardashev Scale, there’s always something else to aim for. There’s seemingly always another level, or sub-level, towards which you could climb. But, in amongst all of the most dramatic predictions for the future based on the scale, it’s also paramount that your own evolution as a species continues unabated, as well. And that’s potentially a problem for the future of our kind.
This is Unveiled, and today we’re taking a closer look at why humans will never be type five.
The original Kardashev Scale topped out at type three, with projected civilizations that could harness the entire energy potential of their home galaxy. In more recent times, however, the scale has been added to, and added to, so that some iterations of it stretch as far as type seven and beyond. Nevertheless, while the uppermost realms of it are still somewhat vague, almost all subscribers to the Kardashev Scale do now agree that it should rise to at least type five - two whole levels further than were in Kardashev’s original thinking.
At type five, a civilization has full and unfettered control of the universe. There is no distinction between the observable and unobservable parts of it anymore, because type fives simply have it all under their gaze. Even things like Dyson Spheres and lightspeed travel are wholly antiquated now. Type fives can siphon energy from just about anything in the universe - not just stars but also black holes, quasars, and gamma ray bursts - and they can move about that universe with ease, without anywhere being out of bounds or beyond reach. What is still beyond reach, however, according to some models, is the wider multiverse… which is now the all-consuming goal for a type five. A type five has broken into the multiverse, yes, it knows it’s there, and it can access it… but it must now spend its time trying to tame it, and to eventually harness all of the possible energy potential from it, as well. To call that task Herculean wouldn’t even do it justice. There’s simply nothing, from our perspective, to match it.
And, what is our perspective? Famously, most theoretical thinkers - including the likes of Carl Sagan and Michio Kaku - rank current humanity at around 0.7 on the Kardashev Scale. We are relative babies alongside all of the imagined civilizations that could exist, and haven’t even managed to fully master our own planet yet. We could still be wiped out into extinction in a relative instant, and the very, very, very vast majority of our wider surroundings are still entirely unknown and unavailable to us. The gap between us and type five is quite simply huge. And, while there’s some argument that we might still breach it one day, there’s much more of a chance that we actually never will.
First of all, humans are perishable creatures. We’re born, we age, we die. With an average life expectancy of around seventy years, on an individual level the sad truth is that we’re probably unnoticeable in just a universe that’s 13.8 billion years old… let alone in a multiverse made up of countless versions of that universe. On a species level, with modern humans being around 300,000 years old, we make a slightly larger dent in cosmological history, but are still infinitesimal (and arguably unimportant) in the grand scheme of everything. That would have to change, and in a massive, fundamental way, by the time of type five.
According to countless reports, we are edging ever closer to achieving immortality in the here and now. In the twenty-first century, humanity has massively progressed in fields such as gene editing and cellular research. Interestingly, this kind of emphasis on things that are very small isn’t really what’s at the heart of the typically expansionist Kardashev Scale - which rather calls for bigger and bigger technologies - and yet it could well be crucial if we hope to progress to, say, types two or three. Living forever could grant us time enough to make the breakthroughs needed to journey the Milky Way, while still being recognisably human. Move beyond that, though, and the more traditional versions of immortality won’t be enough. At type five, it’s likely that even the most enhanced human body possible would still be insufficient.
Predicted inventions in the coming years for things like super-strength skeletons and artificially bolstered vital organs (if they come true) certainly could extend our time alive, perhaps indefinitely. Reverse the aging process within the cells inside us, and really there’d be no traditional, biological reason for anyone to die, at all. But we would still be limited by our bodies. Up against the multiverse, we are inescapably small and needy lifeforms. We need air to breathe, whether that’s naturally, or via some sort of AI lung of the future. We’re a slave to gravity, a universal force that’s always threatening to bring us down. Our brains are good, but even they have an upper limit while crammed inside our craniums. If there’s one thing that upper-Kardashev civilizations crave, it’s efficiency; and the human being, as brilliant as it is on Earth, probably isn’t all that efficient at the multiverse scale.
There’s the problem of the mind to consider, too. Human emotions are really what makes this Earthly life worth living. Our experiences shape us because they have an emotional impact on us, for better or worse. We draw on memories of the past to interpret the present or future because it makes sense to do so, even if it’s not always the best course of action. We’re always questioning ourselves, too, up to and including the biggest questions of all - like, what is real? and what is consciousness? Largely in search of answers, we’ve developed creativity and expression… which again tap into our massive emotional range, as a species. But, while that’s all very pleasant for us, would a type five have the time, patience or need for any of it? Not likely.
The hive mind is a concept that comes in at type three and higher, and is sometimes known as universal intelligence. There are many iterations, but broadly it requires a non-physical domain which links all the smaller parts of a civilization. Some interpretations, however, lead to a somewhat dismaying conclusion, as all of those linked smaller parts actually lose their uniqueness. Knowledge, ambition, thoughts and feelings are streamlined, so that - if it works and is at its most efficient - everything tapped into the universal intelligence always makes the right decision and never wavers from whatever the collective goal is; which, at type five, is mastering the multiverse. There is no longer any room for creativity, expression or emotion… which might now be all collected under the much harsher umbrella term of rebellion. Ultimately, though, it means that there is no longer any room for humanity.
Indeed, for all its power potential, it might even be said that a type five could end up trapped by itself. There isn’t even the concept of freedom anymore, let alone the feeling of having it. But, then again, that sentiment in itself is born out of our human perspective, at the lowly type 0.7. Perhaps type five doesn’t actually care about freedom, because it doesn’t actually care about anything. To care is to feel, and (unfortunately) to feel is possibly to fail… in the quest for the multiverse.
Clearly, then, the gap between humankind and type five is far greater than simply technological prowess. It’s far greater, even, than overcoming death and living forever. At its core, and especially as we move further up it, the Kardashev Scale continually requires us to ask; what is it to be human? And, is there a time when being human ends? If there is, then it most likely does end long before the time that a civilization is dealing in multiple universes. By then, that group - or combined entity - is so far removed from any humans that either could exist within its domain, or even from any humans that it potentially once was. It has become the supreme lifeform. Unless, of course, there is an even higher level - a Kardashev type six - with a total view of the multiverse; and with its eyes set firmly on the megaverse. In which case, then the journey still isn’t over.
But, for now, for as long as we ourselves need to grow and age, feel and create, think and live… then that’s why humans aren’t cut out for this particular future, and will therefore never be type five.