Barriers to Becoming a Kardashev Civilization

Barriers to Becoming a Kardashev Civilization

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This episode is brought to you by NordVPN. A glorious and bright future awaits us if   we can become a Kardashev Civilization, but what  barriers stand between us and that bright future.  So, this episode marks the 8th Anniversary  of our first episode of Science & Futurism   with Isaac Arthur, and I thought for  SFIA’s 8th Birthday, it would be a good   time to revisit the core concept behind  our original episode on megastructures,   which is what a Kardashev-scale civilization  really would tend to look like compared to our   classic science fiction and space opera  interstellar empires and federations.  I think in many ways, that’s best discussed by  way of by what the barriers are to reaching that   level, but first let’s review what the Kardashev  Scale is. Now there are 3 levels of Kardashev   civilizations known as K1, K2, and K3, and each  level on that scale has its own barriers to   reaching it and challenges to overcome once there. But first, if you’d like to help the Channel   reach a new level, make sure to hit  those like and subscribe buttons. 

The Kardashev Scale’s originator, Astronomer  Nikolai Kardashev, suggested it as a   classification for advanced civilizations  based on how much power they’d consume,   and the scale is on astronomical grades –  Planetary, Solar, and Galactic. It has come   to also imply a civilization’s technological  level, but honestly, it is not really good for   measuring that. The basic notion is that your  typical planet should be getting around 10^17   watts of sunlight hitting it at any moment and  the same radiated away as heat or reflected back   into space unused. A civilization that comes  to use all that energy directly is called a  

K1 Civilization. We are of course not considered  to be one. How you define ‘use’ is a bit tricky,   since photosynthesis by plants used to grow  food for citizens would seem to count, but as   an example of how the Kardashev scale isn’t the  best scale we could come up with when attempting   to describe a civilization’s technological  level, an intelligent world-spanning fungus   or algae with no technology; just a naturally  evolved planet-brain, would be nearly K1.  Now, a justification for using technology levels  interchangeably with Kardashev levels is that   presumably, a giant planet-wide brain would be  likely to have far greater mental capacity (than   humans do) for reaching advanced technological  levels quickly, as might any civilization with   2x10^17 watts of power at its disposal, which  is how much sunlight Earth gets and is also   10,000 times the average total power consumption  of humanity these days. Imagine what we could   do with that much power? 10,000 times what we  have now? That’s K1 and it’s the lowest level. 

The funny thing is that, while we do need a  bit more technology to get to K1 ourselves,   we should have all of that by this century’s end,  and that technology could take us to levels K2   and K3 as well. A K2 civilization is just one  that uses all the power generated by its star,   rather than just all the sunlight that star  puts on their planet. But once they’ve built   the megastructures to capture all the energy  radiated onto a planet, they don’t need higher   tech megastructures to encase a star, just  a lot of them. And K3 just means they use   all the power generated by an entire galaxy. Categorizing civilizations by their power usage   is great for astronomy and SETI purposes – the  search for extraterrestrial intelligence – because   that usage will determine how you can detect  those civilizations. Stars and planets have   some very specific traits when most or all of  their energy is being used technologically, and   especially so when talking about an entire galaxy.  It is widely believed that energy can be neither  

created nor destroyed, just changed in type. Planets, or any other bodies in space that are   absorbing sunlight energy, will get hotter and  hotter as they absorb light, until they begin   radiating it away as fast as they absorb it. The  color, or spectrum, of the light emitted will look   roughly like a Bell Curve but with a peak based  on its temperature too. Earth’s peak is at a   wavelength of about 10 micrometers, corresponding  to our typical temperature of about 290 Kelvin.   This is the infrared band, which is huge and  covers everything from 3 Kelvin to 4000 Kelvin,   in terms of emission peaks, but we divide the  band into subgroups, near-infrared, the hottest   and the majority of what most stars actually emit,  short-wavelength IR, which about 1000-2000 Kelvin,   Mid-wavelength IR, which is everything between  the boiling point of water at one atmosphere,   up to 1000 Kelvin, and Long-Wavelength IR,  which is what we usual call Thermal IR,   and would include every animal on the planet, and  the planet itself, down to Antarctic temperatures. 

We have Far IR after that and this is what  basically every other celestial body gives   off that’s neither a star, nor close to one,  and is 3-193 Kelvin, most asteroids, comets,   and moons are in this territory, and right under  that we get microwave radiation. As a quick   reminder 273 Kelvin is the same as 0 Celsius or 32  Fahrenheit, what water freezes at here on Earth,   and 373 Kelvin is Boiling point, 100 Celsius or  212 Fahrenheit. And we assume any life based on   the principles we know of must come from a planet  in this temperature range where liquid water   is possible, or one just a bit cooler perhaps. And again, Earth glows with infrared emissions   at roughly 290 Kelvin, in the Long Wavelength  Infrared or LWIR, or Thermal Infrared range,   290 Kelvin is 17 Celsius or 62 Fahrenheit,  and that’s the average Temperature of Earth..  Now our Sun is about 20 times hotter, so  has a peak about a twentieth the wavelength,   half a micrometer. This actually corresponds  to the color zone of blue-green, but the Sun  

is white in appearance if you look at it – which  you absolutely should not do – and atmospheric   scattering results in that yellow-ish look around  it during mid-day. When we use light as a power   source, it ends up as heat in the object using it  and eventually radiates out at a characteristic   temperature. The amount and spectrum of light a  star gives off matches very tightly with its mass   and brightness, so someone using a big portion of  a star’s light for powering their civilization is   going to alter that star’s spectrum a lot and it  would stand-out like a fighter jet on a highway.  It should be pretty easy for us to spot any  K2 civilizations that existed at a time where   their light could possibly have reached us,  even with the equipment we have today, same   as it should be easy to spot any K1 civilization  that is absorbing or emitting more power than we   would expect it to naturally. Any given planet has  a specific orbital period around its star based on   the star’s mass and that planet’s distance from  it, so if we see a planet around a star of known   brightness orbiting every X number of Days, we  know how much radiation it should be giving off,   either as reflected and scattered sunlight  or emitted as infrared. We can add those  

up and throw in modifications for greenhouse  gasses altering that ratio, and if it is off,   we know we’ve got someone making tons of  power there, presumably by nuclear fusion,   or beaming it in from orbital solar arrays. Where  the Kardashev scale is originally about detecting   civilizations, this is how that can be done. And we tend to assume you could see this if their   emitted power or wavelength was 10% or more off  from what we’d expect from an uninhabited planet,   maybe even lower like 1%. Same notion for  galaxies. So that’s why the classifications:   K1 and K2 and K3, they are useful specifically  in astronomy, we’d expect to see if there was   a sizable distortion to a planet or star or  galaxy’s natural light output. These are really   big ranges though, because planets can vary in  luminosity quite a lot and still be habitable,   especially when technology comes into play,  and they vary in size a lot too. So, our own  

planet’s luminosity of about 2x10^17 watts, or  our galaxy’s luminosity of about 5x10^36 watts,   can easily vary by an entire order of magnitude  or two; between two different planets or two   different galaxies. Stars are even worse, our  sun, at 4x10^26 Watts, is 2 billion times brighter   than earth and a bit under 10 billion times  dimmer than our galaxy, but our Sun is also   10,000 times brighter than the dimmest red dwarfs  stars are, and there are hypergiants that are a   million times brighter than our Sun, that’s 10  orders of magnitude or a factor of 10 billion   between dimmest red dwarfs and might hypergiants. So, it isn’t that we could say a civilization is   Kardashev 2 if it gives off 386 Trillion-Trillion  Watts like our own sun does, or standardize it as   Carl Sagan suggested to 10^16 watts being  K1, 10^26 being K2, and 10^36 being K3,   or doing that in megawatts to drop the 6’s. It’s  just that, from an astronomical perspective,   if that specific object is varying enough  from what we would expect, and if that   variation falls within the scope of what our  instruments would detect as a clear anomaly,   with continued observation, it might be  enough to label it as artificial and alien. 

So basically, if we had good telescopes we  could spot a sub-K1 civilization on Pluto   that was causing just 1% variation of its  normal emissions – which would correspond to   some subterranean cities 4 trillion watts of  power generation that radiates away as heat,   slightly raising Pluto’s temperature, and  that’s about a fifth of humanity’s current   power generation too, but on the Sagan Scale, if  we were to do it calculator-style with 4x10^12   Watts reading as 4E12 watts, and Earth reading  2E17 watts, we could presumably replace the E   with a K and then subtract 6, again putting it in  megawatts, and divide by ten for the power number.   So a default K1 Earth is, on this Sagan Scale  version, 2K1.1, and this hidden Pluto civilization   would be 4K0.6, and modern Earth civilization,  ignoring all our agriculture and free lighting,  

would be a 2K0.7. We’ll usually just round on  that first digit to say, in that case, K0.7  As usual, you don’t need to memorize  any of this, there’s no pop quiz coming,   and I’m not a big fan of using the Kardashev  Scale for anything other than SETI efforts,   where it’s really more about how much the objects  are varying from what we would expect than what   their actual power output is, but again, we’re  kinda stuck with it in that other context,   so we might as well be systemized about it. Folks  discussing it in our channel forums usually are   systemized too, but use different systems, so  maybe that will streamline it for discussion.  Thus, a full Dyson around our Sun would be a  4K2.0 civilization, whereas a quarter Dyson or   one around a Sun a fourth as bright as our  own would be a 1K2.0 or just K2 civ. Some   Rungworld around our Sun might be a K1.8 and  a Niven Ringworld could be viewed as a K1.5.  

Larger modern nations are in the K0.6 range,  the biggest might hit K0.7 in our lifetimes.  The thing is, it’s all about *what* you do, not  just how much you’ve got, and it's so easy to get   more once you’re in space. Solar is ridiculously  simple, especially solar thermal, on an asteroid.   It's then very easy to mine that asteroid out to  make solar mirrors and panels that are tinfoil   thick and have an area that is comparable to that  of a planet. You can then wrap a star in those   and you’ve got a dyson swarm of power collectors,  which can very easily power either giant beaming   systems to move systems up to relativistic  speeds or even to make antimatter, even with   a 10 million-to-one loss ratio, for interstellar  ships to use as fuel. Though we can probably do   better than 10 Million to one, see our Antimatter  Factories episode for more discussion of that.  In this context, becoming a Kardashev civilization  is real easy once you get to our point,   and implies no advanced technology, just the stuff  we expect to get this century or already have.  

That could get us to K2 inside a century, with  dumb robots on asteroids, mass-producing power   collectors, but it doesn’t necessarily imply much  technology beyond that, or a purpose for having   it, whereas, that tiny little Pluto civilization  4K0.6 might be super-technologically-advanced   in comparison. Though again, we would  assume access to that level of power   would let you improve your tech very quickly. And with that in mind, let’s shift to discussing   what that power really means. In many ways this  is just as variable because efficiency can help   you get a lot more done with a lot less. Now,  efficiency isn’t a magic wand either, an electric   motor or gas engine isn’t really going to get more  efficient at doing work, your irrigation pumps   for water thus can’t improve much, but various  technologies can make you need less irrigation   per acre, or get more food out of an acre or  waste less between field and table. Indeed, we  

often contemplate post-human societies running an  entire civilization on less power than the typical   modern household uses, see our civilizations  at the end of time series for details.  Let us imagine an entirely baseline human  civilization though, regular modern humans,   not cyborgs or AI, but up in space.  One that just built an additional acre   or half a hectare of land, be that as an  arcology, space habitat or domed colony,   and did that for every human born, and added  on a megawatt of power generation. Almost all   of which is going to be used as artificial  sunlight for forest, lawn, garden, farm,   etc. Even just with modern technology,  with that much power generation,   you can make all the food, clothes,  and goods someone needs and power them,   right down to reversing the process to turn water  and carbon dioxide back into gasoline if you want. 

We’ll refer to this society as a Megawatt Society  for the rest of the episode and its Kardashev   level Population is 10^10 for K1, 10^20 for K2,  and 10^30 for K3, conveniently easy to work with.   This is of course an intentionally round number  and show regulars know we’ve run calculations   showing how even 2 kilowatts (or even less)  might be enough for a person, with hydroponics,   we’ll refer to this as a Kilowatt society going  forward. But critically, there’s no free sunlight   here, either you’re using the sunlight for power  generation, including running artificial lighting,   or you’re bouncing or channeling it around to use  directly. In all probability you’re doing both   but this is the difference between a K1 and what  we are now, and it’s the difference between the   amount of us and them. We’re a planet of nearly  8 billion, with many in great need and with an   endangered ecology which often forces tradeoffs.  They, at a megawatt each, would have 200 billion   people living in better circumstances than your  typical wealthy upper-middle class modern human   and without ecological concerns. Their population  could be at 100 trillion using the 2 kilowatt  

figure, but that is definitely a many-layered  Ecumenopolis mega-city whereas the Megawatt   figure is more like garden-parks and arcologies. In situations like this though, I tend to think   your best bet where nature is concerned, is  to build thousands of O’Neill Cylinders and   other space habitats to use as dedicated nature  preserves, rather than trying to do that on Earth.   Also, there are a lot of barriers to getting to a  place like this, not least of which is the barrier   of whether or not we want to, and many of those  may be political or ideological but critically, in   this example, it wouldn’t matter which political,  economic, or religious system you went with so   long as it wasn’t opposed to the final product  as described. I’m sure some would be better or   worse at getting you there but everyone’s  mileage is likely to vary on that matter.  One of those big barriers is population growth,  because a relatively simple improvement in   automation and power generation might let us start  knocking out kilometer-wide solar panels from   random asteroids as fast as we felt like building  them, and that same technology leads to the kinds   that let you churn out space habitats or  arcologies for folks to live in; faster   than we could grow people, so to speak, even if  everybody was having a dozen kids a piece. Nobody   agrees on population growth rates, nor should  they, models of how fast populations grow often   seem as reliable as next week’s weather forecast  and for similar reasons, its a system that’s just   chaotic and has a lot of variables with big and  hard-to-predict impacts, including human opinions. 

As a result, the channel’s default philosophy is  that the future offers us greater productivity,   health, and longevity per person than we have  now and that most people like being parents,   so we assume that while resources are plentiful,  or felt too plentiful, folks will opt to have kids   and probably repeatedly, especially if they’re  not confined to having kids between their late   teens and forties, and I’d be willing to bet  we will see that latter restriction crumble in   the next few decades, with improved fertility  treatments. Predicting population this century   is hard because we are a civilization currently  very confined in our growth urges by ecological   and resource-limitation concerns. We know  that and it influences people deciding on   when and how big to have a family. I would guess that by the year 2100,   we’ll either have those issues mostly solved  or we’ll pretty much cease as a civilization   in the modern context, and by that same time,  I would expect average lifespan to have risen   to well over 100 and with no effective limit  on what age an adult could have a child at,   there are just too many technological pathways  emerging for that not to be the case. It is   possible other factors might come into play that  inclined us to negative growth, unknown feedback   effects and so on, but the simplest interpretation  of folks living longer and being fertile longer is   more people being around and having more kids  over their personal lifetime. Reality is often  

counterintuitive though and an obvious and fair  rebuttal would be that people used to live shorter   lives and generally had more kids then, but for  the moment, let's accept that interpretation that   longer lives and fertility periods inclines to  more population growth, and that greater personal   knowledge and age bringing wisdom, people are more  inclined to act strategically in a longer-lived   society, which would be to choose growth when  it was a good option and not when it wasn’t.  Such being the case, by the year 2100,  we are presumably back to being a growth   civilization – not that we aren’t now, but there  are definitely many folks currently hesitating on   having families, or that are limiting family  size or delaying having a family for worries   it could hurt the planet, civilization, or their  career. Those concerns aren’t magically waved away   but don’t really seem to apply as growth limits  as strongly in early Kardashev Civilizations.  Note that I say “early”, because, if you are in a  growth phase, even if the Universe were infinite,   you still bottleneck if you’re growing in number  faster than you’re growing in resources or   efficiency in utilizing those resources, and  an absence of Faster Than Light travel, FTL,   generally implies as much. This is much as  we’re a bit bottlenecked on Earth right now,  

needing to temper our growth while we get  more efficient with our resources, to be K1,   and off into space to get more worlds and  resources. We would expect you would get   those bottlenecks in K2 and K3 civilizations as  well, though the variety and specific reasons are   bound to vary a lot on how space colonization  works out in a practical sense, and probably   would go through epochs much like Earth and  humanity’s growth have undergone. I can't really   call these barriers though, or even hurdles,  just periods or conditions of harder growth.  If you grow faster than your resources do, you hit  a limit, if you stop getting more efficient, you   hit a limit, if your resources are expended when  you use them, you hit a limit. And all of those   would appear to be true under known science, so  there is an actual limit as to how many folks you   can keep on a planet or in a K2 Dyson Swarm, but  things like Birch Planets obviously stretch that,   since they are a K3 civilization all on their own  and one so compressed – onto a single galaxy-mass   planet, light months wide – that even the normal  K3 limit on a cohesive civilization isn’t in play. 

Nonetheless, we want to be careful where we  assume those barriers are. As an example,   our megawatt-per-person civilization would number  4 billion-trillion humans around our own Sun. Now,   we have to remember that our sun will eventually  run out of fuel, but in the process it actually   gets bigger and brighter every year,  about 1% every hundred million years,   which means a millionth of a percent per year,  or every year it adds about 4x10^18 Watts of new   sunlight to our solar system, enough to support  another 4 trillion people. So, it’s insignificant   growth in terms of total solar output but that  insignificant amount is still huge in modern   terms, 500 times our current population. Stars  die-off weirdly in that way, burning brighter,   then blowing-up into red giants, with most ending  as white dwarfs and your typical white dwarf is   only a thousandth as bright as our Sun after  a billion years of that white dwarf cooling.  And those are not really typical either, only  the largest stars have died thus far, our Sun   is in the top 5% of stars by mass and only those  about our size or bigger can actually have burned   out yet, most dead stars were bigger than our  sun. Now, we do have ways of living after stars  

burn out, indeed, even around black holes, which  similarly get brighter with time, not dimmer,   but by default your white dwarf civilization  is going to be a tiny remnant of what it was,   not even a percent. Though, it's hard to imagine  any K2 Civilization lying down meekly for that to   happen, and posthuman digital civilizations can  do way better, and stars can also be refueled,   see our Civilizations at the end of time  series for more discussion of those.  That’s all billions of years down the road though.  In the here and now, or a century or two from now,   we can probably build power generation way faster  than we can build people, and we can add power   through patience or by building up more fusion  reactors or black hole generators or similar.  

Your first barrier is getting production capacity  off-Earth, and is the one we probably focus most   on here at SFIA. And my writing really is more  focused on climbing the Kardashev Ladder than   exploring cool or strange new worlds, that  to me is more of how to incentivize growing   and expanding civilization for others. The next  step after you get decent off-world production,   which probably means lots of automation  but doesn’t have to, is simply patience.  Everything about colonizing the galaxy once you  get that first foothold off-Earth is patience,   patience, and more patience. The second half of  this third millennium is likely to see us having,   at an individual level, insane amounts of power  production per person, essentially as much as   you want if you don’t mind not being too close  to others to avoid heat building up. I don’t  

think we’re going to see growth rates like we  did in the 20th century, even if we get radical   life extension, but if we did, by the year 2500 we  would number a stunning thousand times more people   than are alive now, 8 trillion. But even that  megawatt society would then only need 8x10^18   watts, or 20 billionths of the light the Sun  gives off, and just about 40 times what hits   Earth. Even very crude clanking self replicators  that required a lot of human oversight should have   had the time and ability to utterly englobe  our Sun in power collectors by then, and   had they done so, those 8 Trillion people would  each have 50 trillion watts of power each, enough   to run a mighty modern nation, just for them.  That’s assuming very fast growth by humans and   honestly rather slow work by constructor swarms. Life extension continues to make progress,   for my part I think people are alive now who will  live to see an end of aging, and indeed, I think   if we even show tangible progress to pushing back  the maximum lifespan and slowing aging, we’ll see   a big uptick in folks opting to be frozen in their  old age for eventual restoration. I think come the   year 2500 a lot of folks watching this episode on  the day that it airs are still going to be around,   and assuming we haven’t obliterated ourselves or  been replaced by something that is not in any way   human or fond of humans, then it’s a civilization  in a golden age of post-scarcity where there   really shouldn’t yet be any pressure to limit  growth or usage of power. Later probably, but  

not for a millennia or so, and this is probably  the phase where we’re launching colony fleets   off by the millions, each to claim their own star This is another example of the K1-2-3 scale not   really fitting, odds are, more countries and  effective discrete civilizations will exist   around at this point than nowadays, but some  are already around other stars and many are   living in orbit of Earth, there’s nothing to  really point at and say “That’s K1”. Indeed,   a fully populated Planet Swarm for Earth would  be more like K1.4, and might come into existence   before our first interstellar colonies had even  grown to count as a lightly populated planet,   unlike in your typical space opera, and ironically  that lone Planet Swarm would have the troops,   resources, and material to beat the snot out of  the typical Space Opera galactic empire. A K1.4   civilization, one with 10^20 watts of power, as  a Megawatt Society, would number 100 Trillion   people and presumably have no problem fielding a  trillion soldiers and billions of battlecruisers.   Keep that in mind when contemplating colonies  in the solar system or even the neighboring star   systems breaking away and going independent or  rebel. And keep in mind that that’s still only  

about a millionth the scale of a Dyson Swarm and  not even a trillionth of a smaller Birch Planet.  Incidentally, see the Megastructure Compendium if  any of these structures aren’t familiar to you.  Your next barrier though, comes at deciding  how to get your raw materials for building   all those megastructures. You’re not there at  8 trillion folks, or even 100 trillion, which   is why I view this as a golden age period. Even  if everyone wanted their own O’Neill Cylinder,   one per family perhaps, basically a county of  garden and nature preserve all to yourself,   well that’s a gigaton of habitat per person and  that means even 100 trillion people have only   used up 10^20 kilograms of mass, which  is a few percent of the asteroid belt.   Keep in mind that even this ludicrous standard  of living for that enormous population that would   require record growth rates to reach by the end of  next millenia, would have needed just 1% of 1% of   Earth’s own mass, acquired from various asteroids  and moons and barely denting the stockpile of   them, and not even a millionth of what we have  in the system, as we will see in a moment. 

This is the phase though, where you’ve got  trillions of O’Neill Cylinders and other giant   space habitats, where you need to start looking  at moons and even planets for raw materials and   I think this would represent a crunch period.  Folks probably live on those and while they can   be used more efficiently as space habitats, by a  factor of many thousands or even a million-fold,   this argument might not be super persuasive  to those already there when folks would be   whining in their eyes about not having a  whole O’Neill Cylinder to themselves and   maybe having to squeeze a million people into  space habitats the size of large modern country.  They’re probably likely to say that should be  fine or they can get their butts on a colony ship   to one of the half-trillion empty star systems  in the galaxy. And another camp is going to be   talking about engaging in starlifting to pull  resources from the Sun and extend its lifespan,   which is definitely something you want to do  because it's got thousands of times more building   material of metals than Earth and the other rocky  planets and moons and asteroids combined have,   and even extends the lifespan of the star.  But, it is not an easy task and it's one   that everyone in the solar system is going to  want some hand in controlling and regulating,   what with it involving ripping planets  worth of super-heated gas off our Sun.  That may be something that can be practically done  at a far smaller scale, but that’s going to be the   emerging hurdle, probably for the 4th millennium.  Do we disassemble planets or mine the sun or just  

mine other solar systems? If the latter, do we  opt to set up planet harvesting on new worlds   rather than colonization, or starlifting up  around virgin stars before settlers got there?  It could be some combination of all of  the above but that’s the next hurdle to   becoming K2 for a megawatt society, and  would hit a kilowatt society even faster,   as those would tend to be more mass per person. I  don’t really want to use the term gigawatt society   as that gets terribly non-specific but that  would be the kind where everyone has a modest   spacehab to themselves or hundreds of acres or  hectares of land inside some arcology or spacehab,   or your own interplanetary spaceship. I’d tend to  expect anything beyond this scale is so post-human   that their anatomy consists of kilometers  of computer chips, semi-immortal hoarders,   or so post-scarcity they can afford to  be embarrassed about their lavish waste   and focus on growing their numbers  rather than their watts per person.  Other than patience, your remaining barriers  really would tend to be existential ones,   trying to decide what your civilization’s purpose  is and what your goal is and if you’re willing to   be coercive about making that happen and  how much and in what ways. This could go  

a lot of ways and we’ve looked at that more  in our post-scarcity civilizations series.   As to the technology needed for getting to these  points, I normally say more helps but that isn’t   necessarily true, technology beyond a certain  point might be destructive to civilizations,   and we did examine the possibility of low-tech  Kardashev civilizations a couple years back.  In the end though, those are the big barriers you  need to beat to become a Kardashev Civilization,   you’ll always be fighting heat dissipation  and entropy, and humanity’s various internal   divisions, but getting off Earth with our  production capacity, getting decently automated   with it, deciding what lifestyles we want to  live in terms of resources and energy, getting   those raw materials, and finally, just finding  a sense of purpose for civilizations themselves,   are the barriers to getting to Kardashev  Civilization Status, K1, K2, K3 or beyond. 

For my part, I think we’ll get there, and that  ‘we’ will actually be some of us listening today,   and I think the journey there will  be an amazing time to be alive too. So we have a couple announcements coming up  including what a K4 civilization would be,   but first, we suggested today that the big  barriers to moving forward are often going   to be more conceptual than technology and  science options, like a civilization not   believing in free will anymore, or which can’t  trust the information they’re getting as true,   not propaganda, or lacking a feeling of privacy,  and next week we’ll look at concerns over options   like that as reason technological progress might  be intentionally slowed or halted completely.  In the meantime though, it does often seem  technology is making ambitiously leaps forward in   the arena of removing our privacy and for my part,  I don’t like my personal data, major or mundane,   vulnerable to misuse by any entity that lacks  scruples or lacks a good security system,   which in my book is nearly everybody. That’s where a virtual private network,   or VPN, like NordVPN can help. Whether you just  don’t like the idea of any random webpage knowing  

your IP address or because many sites change  costs or limit the availability of your shopping   or streaming based on your location, NordVPN makes  it easy to encrypt your data anywhere and send it   through any of their 5400 servers in 59 different  countries. You can even double route your data   through two servers for extra encryption, and  there is an automatic kill switch to protect you   in case the connection drops. NordVPN is also easy  to use, you can turn it on with 1-click or even   automatically, it works with on up to 6 devices  and on different platforms Windows, Android,   iOS, macOS, Linux, and even your Android TV. You don’t need to justify why you would like  

your internet activity encrypted and private,  anymore than why you like curtains on your   windows or don’t have your home address and phone  number stenciled on your clothes for all to see.  No more bandwidth throttling, no more  geo-restrictions on which videos and games   you can play based on location, and NordVPN’s  Threat Protection upgrade offers an enhanced   layer of protection against malware, intrusive ads  and web trackers. You can check out their website   to learn all the benefits NordVPN offers, just go  to to get a 2-year plan   plus 4 additional months with a HUGE discount. It’s  risk-free with Nord’s 30-day money-back guarantee! So this episode comes out two days before  the 8th anniversary of our original episode,   the Megastructure Summary, and just a  few days before my own 42nd birthday,   and as 42 is my lucky number, it is a  birthday I’ve been looking forward to.  Since it is the birthday of the show and myself,  it has become a bit of a tradition to make a   pitch for donating to support the show, and you  can do that on Patreon, Subscribestar, Paypal,   Subscribing to Nebula, or even snail-mail,  see our website or the episode description,   and for that matter every time you check out one  of our sponsors or watch and ad on the channel   it helps. So does hitting the like and subscribe  buttons, leaving a comment, or sharing the video. 

I wanted to thank everyone for watching and  supporting this channel as we enter year 9   and most of that as a weekly show, six and  a half years now. Which wouldn’t have been   possible without so many people volunteering  time and effort to edit scripts, moderate forums,   donate art or music, help me brainstorm episode  ideas, or a dozen other things that make doing   a half-hour long show every week plus two  Sundays a month possible. A lot of them are   listed in our credits and do hang out on our  forums and if you bump into them on a thread,   let them know how much their effort means to  us all, because I can never thank them enough. 

So, one of the big things that I love about  Kardashev civilizations is literally those   big things, Megastructures, and I want  to give a shout out to Neil Blevins,   the artist who compiled Megastructures: A Visual  Compendium, and the artwork in it is stunning,   and the personal note in the copy he sent me  was very touching. I’ve often felt I should   make a book along those lines and never had  the time. But now that I’ve seen this one,   I’m glad I didn’t, because it did it better  than I ever could have. It’s a must have if  

you enjoyed our original episode or its more  recent upgrade The Megastructure Compendium.  So almost every time the Kardashev Scale comes  up someone is bound to ask what qualifies as a   K4 civilization and in between now and when  I wrote this episode’s script I also did   one on the Grabby Aliens perspective on the Fermi  Paradox, and I finally found something that seemed   like a good in between step on the scale between  galactic and the observable Universe, and that’s   what for the moment I’m going to call a Hanson  Bubble, and a K4 Civ, and we’ll discuss that   more in our grabby aliens episode in two weeks. Before that though, next week we’ll be discussing   post-science civilizations, both those that might  abandon research and those which find they have   either hit a wall or learned all the science there  is to know. Then we’ll have our livestream Q&A on  

Sunday, September 25th, at 4pm Eastern Time, and  as usual, my lovely wife Sarah will cohost that   and relay on your questions from the live chat. As always, if you want alerts when those and other   episodes come out, don’t forget to subscribe  to the channel and hit the notifications bell.   And if you enjoyed today’s episode, and  would like help support future episodes,   visit our website, or check out the links in  the episode description, for ways to support   the show or for our forums for discussing all  these awesome topics and many more. You can also  

try out our audio-only versions available  on itunes, spotify, audible, amazon music,   soundcloud, and many more, or get our extended  editions and exclusive episodes on Nebula.  Until next time, thanks for watching, and  thanks for giving this show another great year!

2022-09-23 12:23

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