I often hear that aliens are smarter than humans at some level.
They’ll 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.
What is smartness?
The flaw in that concept is admitting that human smartness may not be at the same level as some others.
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 progress.
Over thousands of year 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 … even into what we call outer space. We have built great cities and developed nations.
Now, what I am hearing is that mankind is stupid.
Because people make the common mistake of confusing the concept of intelligence with the way that they use it.
Remember even in the 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 which subdivides the possible civilizations out there 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
As you can see, on this scale, humanity is not even a thing due we are under the type 1
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 106 bits to type Z who do pretty better with 1031 in order of magnitude.
Fortunately, on this scale, we do better because is 1973 at least, we did 1013 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.
At this point, a third scientist, John Barrow, creates his own scale which, in my opinion, it allow humanity to have a higher value compared with other scales.
Barrow didn’t establish a ladder of achievements but a set of different aspect 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.