Are you familiar with the concept of cosmic horror?
If not, I’ll give you a fast recap: The concept of cosmic horror is at the base of the whole opera of one H. P. Lovecraft and it can be summed in the following way:
Fear and awe we feel when confronted by phenomena beyond our comprehension, whose scope extends beyond the narrow field of human affairs and boasts of cosmic significance
If you need a simpler explanation we can come back in 2012 with the first Avengers movie.
There is a moment when Nick Fury and Loki have a little powwow and they say:
N: We have no quarrel with your people
L: An ant has no quarrel with a boot
Essentially, humanity has no place among the greats of the universe. But why so?
I often hear that aliens are smarter than humans at some level. In every sci-fi opera, they have better technology, a better comprehension of life, the universe and everything. Possibly they are transcendental beings that went over the material plan.
In every first contact movie, they are better, we are not ready, mumbo jumbo, the ant and the boot, etc.
But the general flaw arrives when we confuse smartness with the way we use it.
Is really human smartness so small?
Remember that our imagination is pretty much unlimited and so far, it is what has allowed us to reach our current level of progress.
Over thousands of years of existence, we have developed art, science, architecture, social structures, technology, and the list goes on.
We have explored our planet; the farthest lands, the deepest oceans, and the highest mountains. We have taken to the air and now we are starting our path through the stars. We have built great cities and developed nations.
After all of this, I don’t understand why people use to say that humanity is stupid.
People make the common mistake of confusing the concept of intelligence with the way that they use it.
Remember that even in evil, we have made great achievements.
Honestly, I can’t even think of how the human mind could be improved in any way.
If the goal is to explore the universe, we are getting there. Step by step we are improving our knowledge in terms of science.
The scales of civilizations
Now I want to introduce the concept of the scale of civilizations.
Nikolay Kardashev was a Russian astrophysicist who created a scale that subdivides the civilizations basing on how much energy they are able to use for their own great stuff.
Type 1: A species able to use all the energy of his own planet
Type 2: A species able to use all the energy of his own star
Type 3: A species able to use all the energy of a galaxy
In this scale, humanity is considered type 0.
After that, Carl Sagan made a second scale based on that.
This time the factor is the quantity of information that civilization could create in bits.
We start from type A which can produce 10^6 bits to type Z who do pretty better with 10^31 in order of magnitude.
Fortunately, on this scale, we do better because this was made in 1973 where we did 10^31 and so we were at level H
Now. The problem with these scales is that they assume their levels as a reaching point, like a run for the universal glory.
The fact is that there is no arriving point in evolution and progress, at this point, a third scientist, John Barrow, creates his own scale which, in my opinion, allows humanity to have a higher value compared with other scales.
Barrow didn’t establish a ladder of achievements but a set of different aspects we can work on and, within each of them, there are different levels.
Type 1: Can operate on macroscopic objects
Type 2: Can operate on a genetic level
Type 3: Can operate on a molecular level
Type 4: Can operate on an atomic scale and creating nanotech and AI
Type 5: We descend into the nuclear level
Type 6: Is able to operate in smaller scales with the capacity of manipulating space-time itself
The place of humans
As you can see, on this scale, mankind has a significant role because we are able to fit at some level in any of these types.
It is even clear that the Barrow scale evolving in the concept that every level is not part of a long journey.
Within each level, there are different steps of complexity and possibly, not a single final reward but constant self-improvement.
And this is probably the best scale because set humanity where it deserves to stay in the universe: Among the smarter civilizations.
We need now to end the speech for the cosmic horror with which we opened the post: Humanity has a great place in the universe, will just require time.
What happens if we are alone in the whole universe?
Being alone in the whole universe is a possibility but, somehow, could be an amazing adventure that could let us be, in time, the masters of the universe.
Subverting expectations is, according to me, a good thing if used with wisdom. Unfortunately “Game of Thrones” didn’t in the mess of season 8.