As I mentioned in my previous post, If Aliens exist will they destroy us? the Drake equation is a probabilistic argument that estimates how many active and communicative alien civilisations are scattered across the Milky Way galaxy. Represented as N = R * fp * ne * fl * fi * fc * L, this allows us to approximate that thousands are potentially in existence.

When you consider that in our galaxy alone there are 400,000,000,000 stars and 20,000,000,000 sun-like stars, it’s perhaps fair to assume that advanced civilisations do exist beyond our local group, but before we stock up on defensive weapons, it's worth noting that chances are they aren't interested in us. We might feel superior, but the fact we almost created a nuclear holocaust 40 years ago shows just a fragment of our short, but turbulent history. Even if our at times sketchy history was more positive, just on a technological level alone, scientists estimate that we’re a few hundred years off being defined as “advanced”.

On this occasion the word “advanced” is rather vague. To counter this, and to differentiate between the varying criteria of what makes a civilisation superior, I wanted to briefly introduce the three defined types of advanced civilisations to help us get a better understanding.

Type 1
If we continue at the rate that we are, in a few hundred years we’ll be a type one. This category of advanced civilisation is categorised by a colony's ability to harness the full power of all its natural resources on its home planet.

Type 2
Inching into the realm of the more scientific, a type two is awarded to those that are able to control the full power of their home star. In principle a type two civilisation would be able to make use of more mind boggling concepts such as the Dyson Sphere, which to us is a hypothetical megastructure designed to encase the sun to harvest its power output.

Type 3
Reigning over the categories are the type threes. Comparatively to us, these infinitely more advanced civilisations would appear Godly as there technological power would theoretically be in a position to control the whole galaxy that surrounds it and use it for energy.

With the logistics and limitations of the speed of light aside, the idea that these three categories are in place under the estimation that they do exist somewhere is exciting. Out there a type three civilisation could be monitoring the entire universe, continuously regulating a power balance!

While none of us will be alive to reach the day when we’re officially classified as an advanced civilisation, that feeling of curiosity of how life would function under the banner of every type listed above is just as fascinating as the birth of the universe itself.

You can explore the universe in Ryoichi Kurokawa's unfold, an exhibition exploring the birth of stars, at FACT until 15 June.