Imagine some alien race anonymously "gave" us a Dyson sphere/swarm, and the means to channel the energy, in a way that means free electricity for anybody.
What would actually change?
It seems like a huge leap, but I can't think of anything really revolutionary that it could be used for, except lowering prices of a lot of stuff. What is actually currently limited by electric energy, for mankind as a whole?
We can't make rockets out of electricity, can we? Electricity is not rocket propellant. We can't really extracts resources that much faster, electricity supply is not exactly what limits mechanical diggers. Even if you know that mankind will shift a lot of research to batteries and other stuff, what "big step" would it achieve?
The only thing I have in mind is maybe nuclear fusion, but that's just more energy, I'm not sure it would help that much.
Also, I can hardly see everything mobile (transports, for example) running on battery. Mineral supplies (such as Lithium and other "rare" metals) are finite and somewhat difficult to extract. Counstraints are currently things like size, weight, capacity, and none of that will directly improve with infinite energy. Metal limitation is already starting to be a problem, so I'm not sure the entire population could switch to full-electric cars, trucks, planes and ships.
What are the hurdles that we currently face that could be solved with infinite amounts of electricity?
What would a society with infinite electricity achieve first?
Edit Refocusing so that the question isn't too broad. Here's a yes/no question.
- Would infinite energy significantly help civilization reach a milestone, such as space colonization or terraforming? Would it enable a huge leap towards type 3 or just make lots of stuff cheaper?
Looking at the answers, "just" controlling our ecological footprint means no.