Is there a limit to technological progress? – Clément Vidal

Many generations have felt
they’ve reached the pinnacle of technological advancement, yet look back 100 years, and the technologies
we take for granted today would seem like impossible magic. So will there be a point where we reach an actual limit
of technological progress? And if so, are we anywhere near
that limit now? Half a century ago, Russian astronomer Nikolai Kardashev
was asking similar questions when he came up with a way
to measure technological progress, even when we have no idea exactly
what it might look like. Anything we do in the future
will require energy, so Kardashev’s scale
classifies potential civilizations, whether alien civilizations out there
in the universe or our own, into three levels based
on energy consumption. The tiny amount of energy
we currently consume pales next to what we leave untapped. A Type I, or planetary civilization, can access all the energy resources
of its home planet. In our case, this is the 174,000
terawatts Earth receives from the Sun. We currently only harness
about 15 terawatts of it, mostly by burning solar energy
stored in fossil fuels. To approach becoming
a Type I civilization, we would need to capture solar energy
more directly and efficiently by covering the planet with solar panels. Based on the most optimistic models, we might get there
within just four centuries. What would be next? Well, the Earth only gets a sliver
of the Sun’s energy, while the rest of its 400 yottawatts
is wasted in dead space. But a Type II, or stellar civilization, would make the most
of its home star’s energy. Instead of installing solar panels
around a planet, a Type II civilization would install them
directly orbiting its star, forming a theoretical structure
called a Dyson sphere. And the third step? A Type III civilization would harness
all the energy of its home galaxy. But we can also think of progress
in the opposite way. How small can we go? To that end, British cosmologist
John Barrow classified civilizations by the size
of objects they control. That ranges from mechanical structures
at our own scale, to the building blocks of our own biology, down to unlocking atoms themselves. We’ve currently touched the atomic level,
though our control remains limited. But we potentially could
go much smaller in the future. To get a sense of the extent
to which that’s true, the observable universe is 26 orders
of magnitude larger than a human body. That means if you zoomed out
by a factor of ten 26 times, you’d be at the scale of the universe. But to reach the minimum length scale,
known as the Planck length, you would need to zoom in 35 times. As physicist Richard Feynman once said,
“There’s plenty of room at the bottom.” Instead of one or the other, it’s likely that our civilization will
continue to develop along both Kardashev and Barrow scales. Precision on a smaller scale lets us
use energy more efficiently and unlocks new energy sources,
like nuclear fusion, or even antimatter. And this increased energy lets us
expand and build on a larger scale. A truly advanced civilization, then, would harness both stellar energy
and subatomic technologies. But these predictions weren’t made
just for us humans. They double as a possible means of detecting intelligent life
in the universe. If we find a Dyson sphere
around a distant star, that’s a pretty compelling sign of life. Or, what if, instead of a structure that
passively soaked up all the star’s energy, like a plant, an alien civilization built one that
actively sucked the energy out of the star like a hummingbird. Frighteningly enough, we’ve observed
super dense celestial bodies about the size of a planet that drain energy out
of a much bigger star. It would be much too premature to conclude that this is evidence
of life in the universe. There are also explanations
for these observations that don’t involve alien life forms. But that doesn’t stop us
from asking, “What if?”

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100 thoughts on “Is there a limit to technological progress? – Clément Vidal

  1. Hello, Im from the futrue. i just want to tell you in the future we had internet of 10TB/s, and the dolphin are taking over the world, and we eating potato now

  2. we should hit type 1 before humanity goes extinct due climate change.

    war is important for technology, you need military technology in case you go war with another species, without good military technology, you won't stand a chance, if they have laser, use something better than them.

  3. I remember watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called 'Relics' when they came across a Dyson Sphere. As an engineer myself I can tell that the end technological advancement is definitely not now.

  4. I think we don’t need to make Dyson sphere like that scale, Because some scientists trying to make an artificial star ‘KSTAR’ in South Korea
    and actually it does work for a few seconds

  5. Dyson sphere is a madeup fantasy, since average star is around 1000000 times bigger than surrounding planet why would someone build a sphere around home star and spent resources of their entire galaxy just to get more energy, the point of energy usage is to use small amounts but to use it good.

  6. Great video. The Kardashev Scale is meaningless without something to compare it to. It is like the Drake equation. It makes so many assumptions. Barrow’s model is more viable.

  7. How is technological progress solely related to availability of energy ? We can have futuristic technology even with what we have. For example isnt manufacturing a smartphone technological progress ?

  8. I would ask a follow-up.
    Classifying it off energy seems smart, but we reach the same problem just one chain up.
    Is there a limit to how much energy a society could use?

    If All Citizens suddenly got access to 10kw per hour For free, There would be a lot more AC units and more driving but is useful limit to this energy?

  9. Nice animations and concepts but it doesn't care about what himself asked in the beginning of the video. Simply start a trip to London then stop halfway of a trip for another city.

  10. Such a nice question and so poorly discussed. Finished off by a ridiculous statement at the end (4:20). Why don't you talk about possible boundaries of technology, given by our current understanding of physics? Like.. The downsizing of computer technology….

  11. The sun is going inside, because of an inner fusion.
    By this fusion energy radiates to the earth, where its energy is used for growing plants, animals and human beings.
    Therefore it is possiblöe for human beings, to go inside also and to experience an inner fusion.
    By this inner fusion, an inner gestalt grows, which is until now known as alien, as unknown.
    This inner alien can be present all over universe, so also on earth. It is than present as a gestalt in dark unkonwn alien energy.
    Here free energy of zero is a spiritual affair.
    For a believer, this is paradise inside.
    Such in inner fusion creates cosmic orgasms inside one human being, never mind male or female.
    Eternal life is found.
    Death is an organism of survival, where death is an organism organising itself in pain, where the result is reincarnation and overpopulation of the earth.
    Life is an organism organising itself by orgasms.
    The battle between life and eath is over, because eternal life is found.

    I guess, this is the fourth path!!!
    Is this the god oriented path?

  12. I think that both scales are not so good. First one demends rising population. You don't need a car as powerfull as saturn V rocket, or a toster as powerfull as nuclear plant… Miniaturisation also reached athomic scale already. I think that Kardashev scale could be simplified to energy sources sth. like this:
    Type 0: biomass, fosiles
    Type 1: fision – main internal source of Earths energy, we are already here
    Type 2: fusion – like in a star, we are 30 years away…without any difference for 30 or more years.
    Type 3: kugelblitz – energy from an artificial blackhole, sth. like artificial quasars – the most powerfull objects in universe or rather by colecting Hawking radiation of microblackholes.
    Type 4: creating theirs own minature big bangs, and use matter antimater reactions.

  13. If it happens in nature we can create it potentially and master if by manipulation and control, making is affect a far less and more focused scale to a larger scale than naturally in varying power amounts, could be less than natural, can be more than natural, we been doing this already.

  14. So there is no limit because we can't imagin it XD
    My imagination stops at "Data Beings"…universe rulers.
    I can't imagin something greater…

  15. I personally think that by 2110 we will be mining some asteroids,reaching almost type 1 at 0.97,start terraforming Mars and having at least 100k people there,start colonising Moon by living in its hollow caves.I don't know what to say about the other planets,but I think we will explore other planets and moons.Also,I am sure that we will have sent several probes at Alpha Centauri or farther.We will also learn to produce massive amounts of graphine,wich will help us producing more power.These predictions are actualy very humble,compared to what we can REALLY achieve by this year.Remember that 100 years ago,we built tje first plane.And only 15 years after that planes were almost common.There will be around 60 different space missions .After 15 years there may be 800.Just think about it

  16. As long as humans can imagine (science) fiction there is still progress to be made. Just look into quantumnanoscience. The smaller we go, the more new particles we discover and this triggering new imagination.

  17. it may be mathematically unlikely, but i like to imagine that tabby's star is us bearing witness to the construction of a dyson sphere on a world in our own galaxy.

  18. 3:29 That sounds like the sound effect for when you’re gonna choose a person in Danganronpa THH / 2

  19. Read the Quran and you’ll find that God already tells you that there are aliens and humans will become the smartest being in His universe.

  20. Will be hard for technological advance to happen once climate change destroys the earth. RIP human civilization.

  21. WOW!! i`m impressed. i like the scaling idea, the animation with the hummingbird and the info about the "lifesucking planet"…

    the classification of planets IS in deed star trek, no?

  22. well the limit is our brainpower and lifespan and we are actually stretched pretty thin in that regard. Very few scientists are regarded as polymaths and it takes prospective scientists far longer to learn all there is to know.

  23. i learnt some of this in science class this kinda shows me how important school is and school what made us go that far with technologia but still naah nobody loves school

  24. Need more energy of the Spirit… "Progress and barbarism go hand in hand, unless material civilization be confirmed by Divine Guidance, by the revelations of the All-Merciful and by godly virtues, and be reinforced by spiritual conduct,.." – Baha'i Faith

  25. Hot take: what if technological progress is measured by how LITTLE energy you use and not how much…. Cheers thanks

  26. I don’t see how able to tap into sun energy is anywhere related to technological advance in internet, drones, ai, crypto currency etc. clearly tap into the sun does not mean you don’t need to do anything and will get technological advancement in these matters which all need their own research.

  27. Yes, there is the limit to technological progress. It’s is our depleting resources and the fact that earth is dying because of humans yet we can’t find any solution to actually stop earth from doing so

  28. So pardon me, I might not paying enough attention but I feel that something is digressing is the video explicitly says whether technological limit exist at all?

  29. Imagine if the us invests 70% in technology type stuff. Of course they wouldn't, but imagine. They only invest around 27% according to Google.

  30. I'm back into the interest in science, I thought I lived in the age of disposables. What now, how real are the goals ?

  31. sorry but when i still have to put liquid dinosaurs in my car…cant really say i have high hopes for this joke of a race…makes me feel ashamed that everything is driven by wonder aliens dont want to do anything with us…

  32. Imagine a technological advancement where you're able to fly anywhere in the universe and also control the forces of nature to prevent any natural disasters

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