How exactly would a Type II civilization, according to the Kardashev scale, have to structure its economy, governing body and society in order to be a viable system?

For more information on the Kardashev scale and a Type II civilizations, you can go here

in short, A Type II civilization is a civilization capable of harnessing energy, among other ways, directly from its solar systems star, by means of a Dyson sphere. This method of energy production implies a capacity for energy to matter as well as matter to energy conversion, in layman's terms, make anything out of "electricity" and turn anything into "electricity" (E = mc^2 and all that). So basically, as long as you can keep harnassing solar energy, you can create anything, thus eliminating any form of scarcity.

For the purposes of this query, I will also assume that that level of technological advancement implies an equal level of sophistication into many other branches of science, medical (organ or appendage regeneration/reconstruction, longevity, cloning, genetic engineering etc), space travel (interstellar, at the very least), industry from the macro (robots) to nano scale (nanobots), and the capacity for many other scientific breakthroughs.

In essence, the purpose of this query is to better understand how would a significantly advanced civilization even work. Be it alien or not, the likes of Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate, Halo etc that are never fleshed out enough in canon and never have their mechanics and structure explained (they are always advanced, but never with a reason as to how or why ). it has always bugged me.

So, keeping all that in mind:

  1. How would the economy work, if it could still be called an "economy" if any demand could be met, and all the supply was provided by the sun?

  2. What form of government would be necessary for a society of this scope, what would be the requirements? (in a perfect world where personal competence was an actual factor for being appointed to a governing position), (Technocratic government maybe? and if so how would that look like)

  3. How would such a society look like, assuming that with the advancements to space travel allowing for far-reaching space exploration (for stars to harvest for resources and planets to colonise ) thus an ever increasing risk of alien first contact with either peaceful or aggressive alien races (pretty much, as an example, The British Empire during its colonial period, but applied to a technologically advanced society with appropriate ethical standards)?

Also just to spell it out, there are more galaxies in the cosmos then there are stars in our galaxy, and more stars in our galaxy then there are grains of sand on all our beaches on earth, it is statistically impossible that we are the only sentient life in the cosmos.

Would religion still be a factor after we start exploring the stars and maybe discover alien life? Or after we expand our lifespans through medical means, or otherwise?

A few things that come to mind in that sort of context: Mandatory military service, Alternative mandatory service (some form of mandatory service right out of school, so that all citizens contribute a bare minimum to their society) and Socialist like workforce management (everybody must work somewhere, do something, education, healthcare, military, industry, research, media, entertainment etc) (if the word "socialist" offends you then call it whatever you like)

Basically no lazy people, but that's just my wishful thinking since health care, food and housing are literally free in this theoretical society, there is no reason for people to work. Although an argument could be made that if the Aliens attack as the cliche may be, the military shouldn't have to fight to save the lazy and indolent. My argument here is that we may all be born free and whatnot, but we are not born entitled, no one is obligated to help or fight for us if we can't at the very least do so for ourselves, we are not the centre of the universe, we must all contribute.

If this question has already been asked in another form or another StackExchange, please point me there, otherwise, i hope this question was comprehensive enough.

If there are any books, sites or whatnot out there covering any of these topics please reference them, since I probably never heard of them.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You're asking about the economy, government and society of a civilization that is fully utilizing the entire energy output of the sun. This is a rather broad question. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jan 30, 2018 at 2:14
  • $\begingroup$ I am, but then again, I want to know, for instance, who is Q (who apparently fits into a Type V Civilization), why does he have authority to meddle in the Star Trek universe and how he got so powerful, I hate the fact that the answers to those questions boil down to: he came from the future and is way to advanced to bother to explain himself to us lowly peasants or whatever, screw that, it's just lazy and unimaginative writing. $\endgroup$
    – Peter
    Jan 30, 2018 at 2:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Seems opinion-based. Could be a spectacular Utopia, could be a spectacular Dystopia. Both are possible - making yours believable is the test of a good storyteller. Most of the ideas in the Question seem very near-term and culturally-grounded...and also opinion-based. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Jan 30, 2018 at 2:58
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    $\begingroup$ The answer might be as simple as highly organized. K2 civilizations will be handling vast quantities of matter & energy. This could be extremely hazardous. They will need to be very, vary careful. Also, the main reason science-fiction stays away from describing highly advanced civilizations' societies & economies is it's beyond our comprehension. Could ancient Greeks have imagined either the USA or the EU, their societies & economies? For fiction do what seems plausible. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Jan 30, 2018 at 3:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This question is not only too broad (way, way, way too broad), but is entirely opinion-based. Who's to say any governmental type cannot support a K2 civilization? Who's to say how any such economy would manifest? I strongly suggest you decide what kind of government and economy you wish to use, then ask us specific questions about how that combination can support specific aspects of a K2 civilization. Maybe (maybe...) that will be narrow enough and objective enough to be on-topic here. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 30, 2018 at 3:46

2 Answers 2


short answer: we don't/can't know how a K2 civilization would organise itself as said civilization would most likely have undergone an vernor vinge singularity making said civilization incomprehensible to beings not living in said civilization. a good book covering this is Accelerando by Charles stross


Let's start with question number 1 and focus on the technology of matter to energy conversion.

The economy would be based on energy. True that everything can be provided by sunlight. But who gathered that sunlight and who converted it into the product that you wanted?

Consider making 1 kilogram of anything from energy. Multiply by the speed of light squared and it becomes 9 times 10 to the 19th power Joules. Sunlight at the surface of the earth is about 1000 J m^2/s. So to create 1 kg of stuff in one second requires the sunlight from an area of 9x10^16 m^2 or 9x10^10 km^2. To put that in an Earth perspective, that is 180 times the total land mass of the Earth. You would need to pay a lot of people for their share of the sun.

Food production

Suppose a farm produces winter wheat. It plants the wheat in the fall, the wheat gets its moisture from the winter snow and it's harvested in the early summer. In 2015 the world average yield was 4.6 metric tons per hectare. So 6500 hours, 4600 kg of wheat on 10,000 square meters of land. At 1000 W/m^2 on 10,000 m^2 for 6500 hours, we have 65 million kilowatt-hours, or 2.34 x 10^14 J of energy. Divide that by c squared and we have 0.0026 kilograms or 2.6 grams of stuff. The wheat farm produces almost 2 million times the output of the sun farm. Plus the wheat farm produces oxygen.


If energy can be converted to matter and back, why would we need the sun? Well if you eat 1 kg of food you don't get to collect 1 kg of waste to recycle. You are losing mass in the form of water vapor, dander and C02. As wonderful as a K2 society sounds, I doubt the conversion of energy to mass is 100% efficient, there has to be some energy loss for the lights and sounds of the replicator.



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