Post-Science Civilizations

Post-Science Civilizations

Show Video

This episode is brought to you by Brilliant.   For centuries now, we have pushed ever forward  with science, unlocking new truths and new   mysteries at every step… this journey has come  to define our modern civilization… but what   would happen if one day, that journey stopped,  having no further place to travel forward to?   So, I’ve occasionally discussed in other episodes  that there are fundamental reasons to think that   we will get an answer to all the basic universal  laws of physics and from there, all of science   in general. And indeed, this might happen  before we even get into the depths of space.   By default we tend to think that’s absurd, that  there will always be more questions to solve.  

That science is like the mythic many-headed  hydra fought by Hercules, which sprouted two   new heads every time one was cut off. And indeed  this might be the case for knowledge in general   but for science itself there’s less  of a reason to expect this and indeed,   it is quite to the contrary. It's not that we’re  creating ever-new questions, but that we’re   speeding up the rate at which we answer a set and  finite number of them. The hydra, in this case,   may sprout two heads each time we cut one off,  but it’s only got a thousand to sprout, and each   new pair popping up from a stump just makes it  faster and easier to whack two off. That the  

complexity of the universe is not infinite, and  so there's only so much science to figure out.   To a society living several centuries  into the explosion of knowledge and   science that brought us to this modern  time of technological omnipresence,   the notion that this could ever stop  seems almost impossible to believe.   Humanity might blow itself to smithereens with its  technology and thus end scientific exploration,   but, run out of science? Inconceivable! So, shortly before I wrote this episode,   I’d mentioned this concept of ending science,  by learning it all, and someone asked what a   post-science civilization might be like. And I  realized that even though I often say otherwise,   that science might have a finite number of veils  we can lift and end, I don’t really believe.   I think most of us think science is never-ending  and I presumably believe it deep down too, because   otherwise, I would have already done an episode  on the topic. Especially given that I often think   of it as an event likely to occur within a few  centuries or millennia, maybe even sooner, while   I think of colonizing even our nearest neighboring  stars as on the same sorts of timelines   and the eventual galactic sprawl of civilization  as not even getting fully underway for a million   years or more. Usually, when we even consider the  idea of maxing out our learning or technology,  

the assumption is that it’s the other way around,  we get out in the galaxy at large in the next few   centuries, like Star Trek, but an end to learning  would still be millions of years from now.   I don’t want to spend too much time justifying  this conclusion that science could end, so our   handwave would be that a civilization might get  so far along with its science that it is hitting   big walls of ever-slower growth of learning or  they are finding that new discoveries are mostly   only being made by intelligences that are beyond  anything human and the civilization either doesn’t   want to embrace that path, or they are afraid they  might destroy themselves if they learn any more,   but they still might not opt to go  anti-technological either, as we discussed   in our Techno-Primitivism episode. Or that we  are looking at a civilization that’s coming off   a collapse and has got a mix of old technological  artifacts and primitive tools they can still make,   like we looked at in Techno-Barbarians. So I want to examine 5 possible cases of   Post-Science Civilizations  or close to it, which are:   1. In a very distant future, eons from  now, knowledge of science is completed.   2. In the relatively near future, we learn all  the core rules of physics, and in the following  

centuries we get through the remaining questions  in other sciences, possibly slowing as only more   obscure and less important questions remain. 3. Scientific and technological progress never   halt, but that the effort needed for each new  step involves more and more effort and so we stop   seeing a civilization where each generation’s  technology is vastly different than before.   4. Those new scientific mysteries have  reached a point where only an inhuman   and unfathomable mind can really progress at them,  and this is seen as undesirable or dangerous,   or perhaps when those minds are created  they just leave or become unresponsive.   5. The civilization in question feels that  pursuing any additional science is likely to make   it nearly impossible to survive, as it just makes  it way too easy for any anomaly to wreck them.  

One lone lunatic can mass-manufacture  antimatter bombs in their basement,   or science seems on the verge of proving  that Free Will and Purpose are illusions,   or it might simply be that they’re constantly  dodging bullets from all the technological marvels   they’re making and they think that, eventually,  one of them is nearly guaranteed to get them.   Now, while I’ve listed five cases  here, they can overlap I think,   and we’re not really planning to  discuss each case in detail today,   it's more that you can envision a civilization  around each and they would come in myriad forms.   One thing to understand is that virtually all  physics that we do above the quantum scale   and beneath the galactic scale, even today,  is very nearly identical to what it was before   Einstein arrived on the scene, and most of the  core principles of biology, chemistry, and geology   are things you could still learn if you had the  textbooks on the topic that were available when   Einstein was a student. We’ve pushed the frontiers  very far indeed, but many areas haven’t changed   all that much and there really is no reason to  think that there’s an infinite number of physical   laws and scientific mysteries to learn. As best as  we can tell, all branches of science are emergent   properties either of physics directly or from  another field emergent from it, like biology   being emergent from chemistry which is in turn  emergent from physics, and from which medicine   or neurology or sociology is emergent from. But a firm knowledge of Quantum Mechanics isn’t   really going to help you win at chess much, even  though the game and everything used to play it   are emergent properties of the basic  physical realities of the Universe.  

However, there really are a finite number of  strategies and tactics for that game, and indeed,   a finite number of possible meaningful games since  the game itself is finite in size, positions,   pieces, etc. Knowing all the rules to chess,  which takes little time for most folks to pick up,   obviously isn’t the same as being a master of  it. And so, when I say that knowing all the   physical laws of the Universe, knowing all of  those emergent systems on top of it would come   later. Physics is the first field we would be  likely to master, and then probably chemistry,   as there’s a finite number of ways you can combine  the finite number of elements with each other   and under various conditions of pressure,  temperature, and so on, but it wouldn’t   seem possible to do all those conditions  without knowing all physical options first.   If we live in a finite Universe, it stands  to reason that the rules governing it must be   finite. Alternatively, an infinite-sized Universe  doesn’t imply infinite rules. It may be that there   are unknowable numbers of alternate realities and  multiverses, each with different rules, but we   have no way of proving or experimenting with those  other places yet. If we do, that changes things,  

and a complete knowledge of science might  also include the ability to change the rules   or make new places with different rules. Whichever the case, we have no strong reason   to think science is unending, and yet, we  really are very convinced that’s the case,   and so it makes me instantly worry. Extreme  confidence as a society that something is true,   potentially leaves that civilization vulnerable  to having that truth kicked out from under them,   and their whole worldview with it.  Many things can destroy civilizations,  

some utterly mundane and expected, but extreme  worldview shifts are often the true juggernauts,   crushing and smashing all before them, and I think  a civilization utterly convinced at a root level   that science will always keep turning  up new things and inventing new widgets,   then finding out that wasn’t the case, would  undergo just such a very big shift, equal to   or maybe greater than those caused by things like  cars or computers or civil rights and voting. I   think it would be a Singularity or maybe an actual  Out of Context Problem, the terrifying big brother   of a Black Swan that we discussed in that episode,  and would represent a Fermi Paradox Solution.   Indeed, as we discuss this today, I’m going  to argue that it maybe should be added to   our short list of Late Filters of the Fermi  Paradox, those stages a civilization such   as ours still has to pass through, as opposed  to all the many prior filters we got through   between our galaxy and world forming and  us inventing the first rocketship.   Now, starting with our first case, that, in a  very distant future, eons from now, knowledge   of science is completed. That doesn’t help us  much with the Fermi Paradox; it is essentially   the default point of view, we either assume  knowledge is infinite and science along with it,   or that science at least might be finite  but will need uncounted millennia to solve.  

Such being the case though, it rather implies  that classic sci-fi situation where you just   keep making ever better engines for spaceships  that let you move more ship, and faster, which   lends itself to a rapidly settled galaxy and also  begs the question of where all these leviathan   civilizations are and what happened to them. As this is the classic sci fi and space opera case   and the one probably most envisioned in Fermi  Paradox discussions, we can largely gloss over it,   and it often ends with something like an Ascension  Scenario, where the aliens go to a higher plane   of existence to continue their pursuits, having  solved everything of interest in this Universe   and ready to move to the next one. Or that  they delve too deep and go mad or unleash   some ancient terror that consumes them. See  our episodes: Gods & Monsters, Godlike Aliens,   and Aloof Aliens for more discussion of that  sort of scenario, but it comes down to handling   the difficulty of a civilization that’s reached  that level by basically moving it somewhere else,   out of play, either disinterested in pursuing  resource acquisition as we might expect them to,   and disinterested in communicating with, or even  acknowledging other lifeforms in the universe,   or are simply bound by non-interference  rules, laws and regulations,   or they have been wiped out by either themselves,  or a sudden unexpected scientific discovery,   or by some kind of cyclical natural event that  we haven’t been around long enough to observe.   Their goals no longer resemble our goals  and thus, if they remain at all, we can’t   spot them by obvious signs of their activity  because they’re not doing the obvious stuff.   It does still remain a problem if we assume the  Rare Intelligence camp of the Fermi Paradox is   valid and that we’re the Firstborn civilization  in this region of the Universe though,   an example of a Grabby Alien Civilization or  K4 Civilization, our topic for next week.  

So, over the next few centuries or millennia,   we master every world in the galaxy and since  our science exceeds what modern theory permits,   we presumably can create things that make even the  greatest of Megastructures we discuss on this show   look petty and small. And since some of those make  use of entire galaxies to achieve their goals or   could move galaxies and harvest and consume whole  stars to fuel themselves – all using only modern   science - we should assume that a civilization  whose science keeps expanding constantly   for millions of years has had the time  and power to achieve even greater feats.   Probably those that make a Dyson Sphere  seem as trivial as a child's terrarium.   Or perhaps not, we shouldn’t assume  an ever greater knowledge of science   implies ever greater power and control, that  really is not how this has worked thus far,   where we still use engines functionally similar to  the ones we had centuries ago, using fuel to make   steam or hot gas to shove things, and really  only solar panels and thermocouples create   power differently and they also use principles  discovered by folks who are all long-since dead.  

This needs emphasis perhaps; knowing the complete  rules of a system does not mean you’ve mastered   that system. You can know all the rules of chess,  football, basketball or poker and still have folks   learning new techniques and strategies centuries  later, especially as dynamics shift. Shoes with   better cushions or cleats on them, just from  something like rubber being discovered or   improved, can shift the dynamics of the game  of football a lot but the rules didn’t change,   and that’s basically what physical laws are too. That’s more of what we mean with our second case,   that we discover all the laws of physics and how  the Universe works and maybe even this century,   so that before the first interstellar spaceship  arrives at our first colony to be formed,   we already know all the rules  of how the Universe works.   I suspect this is the case too, that while  we have many more complex emergent systems   branching off from physics, that your baseline  astronomy, particle physics, relativity,   quantum, and probably chemistry will be  settled out in a few more lifetimes.  

What does this civilization look like? Well, I suppose we need to ask if a   post-science civilization is one where all science  is complete or all technology is too, or even if   all available scientific mysteries are currently  solved or in the unsolvable bin. As an example,   things like string Theory and Multiverses, popular  as they are in sci fi and speculation in general,   lack any proof for or against them, and have only  a very few vague notions as to how they could be   tested in this Universe. Often, those suggested  experiments are leviathans of effort and time.   As an example, we might find that we have a new  particle in our theories but to test it would   require a supercollider a few thousand light  years across, powered by several thousand stars   and needing such precision to the collider’s  track that we must empty out an enormous torus   of space outside the track, many light years wide,  of anything even as big as a modest asteroid that   might perturb the particles gravitationally. A civilization might decide that is a good cause,   but to get the resources to be able to build  that without throwing everything they have at it,   to build something of that scale on the  proportional resources of a modern supercollider   to modern civilization, might require a fully  colonized swath of space that’s ten thousand   light years across, that’s sufficiently settled  and built-up that, most of those billion or so   star systems don’t mind footing a bit of the bill  and inconvenience. Thus, that’s the sort of thing   that might happen in the year 100,000 AD, if we  can get ships out into space able to move 10% of   light speed. The construction time might be tens  of thousands of years too and the first experiment  

on completion might need ten thousand years just  to let the first set of particles run the track.   On getting that data, it might be that  the answer is clear, easy and complete.   Done, one simple paper, simultaneously  written by some physicist in each system,   independently, a few weeks after the signal  carrying the experimental data reaches them.   And then back to another hundred thousand years  of waiting while the next anomaly is found and   experiment is suggested and then thousands of  years are taken for the paper suggesting that   experiment to rattle around through the galaxy  to gather interest, discussion, and funding.   Let's be blunt, this is a civilization where  nobody does science full time anymore and   honestly isn’t one where you probably have a lot  of full time instructors of science at the higher   levels. Let me give an example case, it’s the  year 3000 at the University of Mordor on Charon,  

Pluto’s largest moon. Humanity numbers some  100 Trillion people, all but maybe a billion   of which live in this solar system, closer to  the Sun than we do, at Pluto. Our University got   its funding principally to explore the ice and  cryovolcano effects of the Pluto-Charon system,   and three centuries after they got that mandate,  they are still putting out papers. Indeed since   this is the year 3000, many of the staff are the  same folks as first were hired for the job, being   biologically immortal. Other than new researchers  or assistants, nobody comes here to learn from us,   we do videos and papers on the topic – or possibly  straight brain upload packets – and even the 100   million or so folks living in and around Pluto,  many of them with IQs well above 200 on the modern   scale and curious and scientific by nature,  do not particularly care about our research.  

So, it’s not a full time job – I mean  why would it be? It is the year 3000,   if you’re not post-scarcity by now, then odds  are, your civilization is some dystopian wreck   or the extinguished ruins thereof. It is entirely  possible that humans of the year 3000 aren’t much   different from the way they looked in the year  2000 or 1000, but odds are, you’ve got bits   and pieces of machinery glued into you in some  fashion. The typical person probably is at least   as smart as Einstein and probably has had access  to learning tools that make anything we’ve got now   look ham-fisted. I don’t know what someone with an  IQ of 200 at age 200 is like in terms of knowledge   and interest but the odds are that is on the dumb  and young side of what will be around then.   Post-scarcity civilizations probably aren’t  prone to our typical view of hedonism either,   loaded to the gills on various forms of the seven  deadly sins, and lounging in utter sloth. We get   overweight and lazy as a result of more calories  in than out or having low energy levels, and more   likely than not, someone of the year 3000 has  an Olympic athlete’s body, if not a superhero’s,   and has probably been raised by something  that would make modern helicopter parenting   and intense mentoring look negligent. So, we’re  not talking about a civilization wherever everyone  

stopped doing science because they spent all  their time glutting themselves on base pleasures   and never got educated, we’re talking about a  society where the baseline education of most folks   is the equivalent of a modern Ph.D. in every  field we’ve got, and they just can’t make a   full time job out of science because it’s  slowed down and there are so many folks in   every field and they don’t need a full time job. I think you’d still have noted experts on topics,   but with a lot less formality than today, our  current University and Academia setup for that,   already seems a bit unstable going forward and  I’ve no great insight what that will look like   next century, let alone next millenia, but peer  review and accreditation get very tricky when you   start adding in century-long light lags between  planets. We’ve got a telescope a thousand light   years away, it transmits back to Earth and many  other places, and some colony 1500 light years   away from Earth, but 900 light years from that  telescope, is responsible for figuring out the   theory a century ahead of when Earth hears,  and its trillions of scientists figure it out,   name it, and re-broadcast it to the civilization  extending out from it in a rough spherical blob.   And maybe ten thousand years later, after most  folks are dead or had moved on to other interests,   someone finally properly sorted out who  did what and when, and duplicated it,   or first figured it out or figured it out tenth,  but the fastest after getting the original data.   Fundamentally, this is not a very incentive-heavy  environment for science, and realistically,   society isn’t begging them for new tech to  make very easy lives even easier. Odds are  

everyone is very curious still, but the driving  methods of effort and funding will have shifted,   and as we get problems that might need trillions  of scientists, laboring for thousands of years to   make any progress, I just don’t think it would be  as big a draw to folks looking for a challenge.   We have an image of scientists challenging  the impossible but scientists tend to get   exhausted and discouraged by no progress and  peers telling them it's a waste of time.   These things get worse if you have  accelerated consciousness too – indeed,   I suspect just being bigger brained would lend  itself to impatience, even if greater courtesy   and willpower might override that, but when we  contemplate civilizations living the transhuman   or uploaded mind speed superintelligence  life, where the augmentation is aimed   at simply speeding up how fast we think and  experience things, then light lag becomes brutal.   A scientist who experiences time at  100x faster inside their virtual world   than a modern human currently experiences  time, still has to wait a thousand years for   that signal to come from that telescope, but  to them it feels like 100,000 years instead.   Alternatively, they can create and model entire  simulated universes of amazing complexity in that   virtual environment. Hypothetically, a scientist  might freeze themselves to wait for results,  

and if that were commonplace it might make for  a different twist on post-science civilizations,   a hiatus-science civilization perhaps. Now, faster than light travel – depending on how   it works – obviously changes all of this, as would  portals to other planes, dimensions or timelines,   but we don’t know those exist and have no current  theories on even determining how to discover that,   and that may continue forever, that’s  the whole End of Science thing,   Light Speed and Entropy just get stuck in there  with no plausible hope of ever overcoming them.   If they are rigid laws, unbendable, and no other  Universe is available, then you might have folks   keep up the faith even millions of years since  the last truly new discovery, but it's unlikely   to be viewed as we view it now, a thing that  happens so often it will surely happen again.   And, a post-human society of super-geniuses  might be very bad at believing things that are   more ‘matters of principle’ than they  are evidence. We often worry that if   things like Free Will and Purpose are just  illusions and conceits of us. If they are,   then such civilizations might be very bad at  lying to themselves and turn hyper-nihilistic.  

Everybody dies of despair or suicide except for  the ones who turn into mad hedonist mixtures of   Dark Eldar and Melniboneans, sacrificing people  to Slaanesh while always seeking ever crazier   and darker means of satisfying themselves,  like drug addicts. Something like an end   of Science might look like that, especially  as new technological innovations dried up,   or it might just be a culture that is more like  we were several hundred years ago that just didn’t   have that focus. Those folks were not short of  mental challenges, riddles, or puzzles though.   We all play games, puzzles are  probably common with this audience,   I like crosswords and logic puzzles and my  wife loves Sudoku and logic puzzles too,   and she is one of those people who stubbornly  won’t look at the back of the book for the answer,   but I’ll do that, especially on crosswords, if  it is some word I know I’m not going to know.   Difference of styles, I mostly like  puzzles as a method of doing brain warm   up and stretching with my morning coffee  to get me ready for working on this show,   so speed matters, and it's just practice not a  challenge. Neither one of us is under any illusion   that us solving those puzzles helps improve  humanity the way new scientific breakthroughs do,   and somebody made that puzzle and mass-produced  it so we’re hardly the first ones solving it.  

Same thing, when I’m reading old science from  back before even my mentor’s mentors were alive,   I’m not expecting to get deep revelations out  of that, just a perspective from a different   time and sometimes it’s a helpful aid to me,  given what I do for living. And this love of   puzzles and riddles and challenges long predates  any formal science, and I think it would exist   long after the end of science and technology  too, and would probably fill that need for folks   pretty well. Most humans aren’t scientists,  even most curious and puzzle-loving ones.   Knowledge isn’t necessarily infinite either,  but it’s a much bigger realm than just science,   and it really wouldn’t seem likely anything of  even vaguely human mind and duration could ever   run out of knowledge. You could spend a thousand  years just reading everything printed on science  

in the typical University library, as they were  at the turn of the century when I used to wander   the bookshelves at my own college, being amazed at  how many rows were given over just to my own field   of physics. It's been growing ever since and none  of us really expect that to end anytime too soon.   Now, a super-intelligent mind might get  bored way faster and easier than the average   human mind tends towards. There may be an  infinite number of books you could write,   but the fiftieth fantasy series you read that  seems to mimic and differs only superficially   from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings or the  classic King Arthur tales, gets pretty boring,   and a supermind might get bored with it even more  quickly than we do. We shouldn’t assume that it   definitely scales up, that superminds can make  puzzles and fiction that would occupy them as well   as contemporary material can occupy us. That could  go either way, that superintelligences can create   exponentially more new and interesting things  than they can all absorb without getting bored,   or that they can’t create them enough  to prevent each other getting bored.  

Now, one thing that comes to mind, I said a  moment ago, it – science - has been growing   ever since I was a student and none of us  really expect that to end anytime too soon,   but what if it did? What if there was literally  not a single new discovery after today?   Just finish up a few projects and data and  say “Oh, that’s where dark energy comes from,   and that’s what a dark matter particle is” or  “that’s why we can never get the answer to X,   Y and Z question”, and then, done!  No new solutions or answers.   Imagine a world in which, as of today, no new  scientific discoveries were ever made. Firstly,   it would likely take a few generations before we  started to fully believe it was done-done. I mean,  

I can talk all day about the end of science and  in our lifetimes, but even as I say it, and with   good reasoning at my back, it’s an ethereal  concept I view as unreal. So I can’t see it   causing a rapid apocalypse, folks would just shift  from turning our brightest minds to new research,   to principally technological innovation and then  to other fields of endeavor. A cabinet maker   in their garage utilizes tools and techniques  mastered long before they were born, to make a   piece of woodwork that’s probably nearly identical  to those that many others have made , and is   not moaning in despair about a lack of creative  options and lacking a feeling of accomplishment,   ditto the gardener or chef. But it’s not likely  to magically end in one moment, and with fewer   accomplishments in science every year, I think  you would see a slow drain-off of folks, over a   few centuries probably. Some might be left behind  against a perceived need to always keep trying to   find something new, and I’d imagine some would  view it as a ceremonial role and others would be   half-crazed followers of any random newly-reported  phenomena, trying to stir up some hype for it.  

That’s a sad way to think of science ending, but  more likely, it would be a posthuman era, but   there would likely still be a handful of dedicated  old masters of the field who kept their eyes open,   and met occasionally, to check if anything new  was in, or if the textbooks needed revising,   so to speak. They’re the originals not  great-great-great-grand students of the   last scientist to produce real new science. A sudden end to science would be more like in our   cases 4 and 5, where that civilization is fearing  that any new science is going to wreck them,   and they then ban science, or  alternatively, it did wreck them,   and Earth’s entire surface got turned into a  glowing hot radioactive cinder. Or more anyway,   Earth is already a glowing hot radioactive cinder  with a thin cool skin of life wrapped around it.  

Now, we’ve got plenty of fictional examples  of cases where something like this happened,   Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 or Walter  Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz come to mind,   but while they are good stories; contemplating  post-apocalyptic scenarios, I didn’t find   either to be super-realistic, and they don’t  contemplate a civilization calmly and rationally,   choosing an end to scientific  research because in sci fi,   any faction opposed to scientific research  are automatically, by default, crazy fanatical   Luddites. It is harder to make that case if  you have a civilization in which simplistic AI,   robots, automation, and 3D printing have basically  brought you to post-scarcity, with folks easily   able to feed themselves and enjoy many luxuries,  and do so sustainably for billions of years,   where folks really only need to work maybe  five hours a week, but most opt to do more,   where disease and old age are basically things  of the past and nobody lacks for any real need.   In that society, and that’s probably things  circa the year 2100 AD, if someone points out   that the newer science is having very marginal  improvements to people’s standard of living,   both materially and in more existential respects,  but that terrifying and harder-to-control dangers   keep appearing on the edge of exploration –  Superhuman AI they don’t need, posthumans who   might view them as insects, nuclear bombs people  might make in their basements, weird space or time   bending stuff, then maybe when they say “How shall  we fix this?” someone would say “Maybe we need to   stop doing any new science or at the least cut  back on it?” and when they’re done exclaiming in   horror at the concept, they might say “Actually,  maybe we should.” I could really see that,   but I don’t see that happening out of the  blue and I’d have difficulty seeing that   appearing in the form of immediate total bans  and witch hunts, though those could follow if   some faction ignored that rule and nearly killed  everyone with crazy robot armies or something.   I could see this happening though, as we are not  in times past, any rule we passed limiting further   development is not going to disappear in the ages  of time, we have digital records and easy backups,   everyone will remember the why and how. So,  civilizations that basically pause at 22nd century   technology might not ever lift that pause and  might not really be well set up for interstellar   colonization or even inclined to do it. We talk  about getting all your eggs out of one basket,  

but in truth, there really is no plausible natural  disaster that can hit a solar system, or even a   single and alert planet, that can wipe it out,  except intelligent ones. Fear aliens or AI,   not asteroids. And the reality might be, or be  seen to be, that spreading colonies to countless   other stars is more likely to spawn dangerous new  threats to your civilization than is justified by   any minor and improbable risk averted, that just  colonizing your own solar system doesn’t avoid.  

Also, giant space telescopes and transmitters  and dishes of the kind we discuss for talking   across the galaxy to aliens don’t serve much  point, you assume that like yourself they   either aren’t interested in new technology or they  are and thus represent a threat, because they’re   recklessly playing with science and might spawn  some galactic menace before killing everyone,   including themselves, so why bother talking  to them at all? However strange they may be,   they're not likely any weirder than some of  the things you’ve dreamed up in virtual worlds   and giving them your name and  address in exchange for theirs   is potentially a big risk for little tangible  reward. And if that’s the case, it might be a   valid Fermi Paradox Solution, better than many  I can think of and maybe even a top-ten entry.   But in the end, I think that a post-science  civilization is probably the one that most   intelligent life-forms live in. Most of our  distant colonies as we settle the galaxy and   beyond, aren't going to be focused on science  because they will assume that the vast dyson   swarms of the Inner Sphere near Earth will already  be working on any new bit of science, and be much   better equipped and with greater/cheaper  resources available than they have,   and indeed quite likely to have already solved  it before those colonies had even heard of it   themselves, just due to light lag. This is likely  what most of humanity outside maybe the next few  

millenia will be like, busy, and pro-technology,  but not focused on doing new science themselves,   and so probably not too unlike our own cultures  of the past, where things still changed,   but the culture didn’t revolve around the idea  that everything is redone every generation.   It becomes a society where folks are probably more  willing to build something that lasts ten times   longer but costs five times as much, which we tend  to be reluctant to do in this era of entirely new   technology every generation. But I don’t think  it would be a stale society, void of progress and   stagnant or hedonistic, anymore than those in our  past were, and many prior cultures or communities   appear not to have added any new technology,  let alone science, to humanity’s pool. Though,   likely many did do at least some, and it just  hasn’t gotten recorded, and what counts as science   can be debated. Nonetheless, many were amazing  and vibrant peoples and places all the same,   so we shouldn’t assume a post-science  civilization is a bad place to be.  

Indeed, as a civilization that’s really only been  heavily science-focused for a relatively short   time, odds are pretty good that we’re the unstable  anomaly, and that while learning is probably   eternal, a civilization focused on science is a  brief period between when a civilization thinks   stars are just points of light or distant gods,  and when it has settled them all, and dwells   around them for billions of years to come. And those might be glorious civilizations,   shining as brightly as the stars they’ve come  to surround, but I’m glad to be living now   when there’s so many mysteries still to answer  about those stars and so many other enigmas.   As we looked at today, it is possible one  day we’ll run out of science or abandon it,   but I wouldn’t bet on it anytime soon, and  in the meantime a strong knowledge of math,   science, and computer science is of  uncalcuable worth in our civilization.   Odds are pretty good if you’re watching this  show, I don’t have to convince you that’s true,   but learning math and science  can be intimidating to many   and the key to learning it is good explanations  with handson examples and practice, and that’s   why I’ve been recommending Brilliant for years  for folks looking to level up their knowledge.  

They’ve not only been a good sponsor for this  show since its early days, they’ve been a good   partner to work with, and helped us a lot as  a production, and a lot of other shows too.   I don’t know of any other show sponsor I’ve heard  so much positive feedback from other show creators   for just being great to work with, and they can be  a great partner on your own learning journey too,   and that seems to be the overwhelming  consensus from folks who’ve signed up   with them over the years and let me know how  it helped them or a family member to learn.   Brilliant makes it easier for anyone to  learn, be it the basics or advanced materials,   they have thousands of lessons, with exclusive  new content added monthly, and their focus   on interactivity and making learning fun just  throws out the old paradigm of boring textbooks,   like we try to do here on this show. With Brilliant, you can learn at your own pace,   learn on the go, and learn something new, all  while helping support our show. To get started   for free, visit  or click on the link in the description,   and the first 200 people will get 20% off  Brilliant's annual premium subscription.  

So we still have one more regular Thursday episode  this month, on the Grabby Aliens perspective   of the Fermi Paradox, and what Grabby Aliens  are and if we will become an example of them   and if they are a Kardashev 4 Civilization.  First though we have our Monthly Livestream Q&A,   Sunday September 25th at 4 pm Eastern time, where  my wife and co-host Sarah and I will be taking   your questions live from the chat. After both of  those it is into October to look at the idea of   colonizing planetary rings, like Saturn’s, and  if life might be able to evolve in such places.   Then we’ll ask the question of what we do if all  these options for space travel never pan out, and   we are stuck here on Earth, and then we’ll have  our Scifi Sunday episode to look at what happens   if space travel does indeed pan out and what  strange alien environments we might encounter.   Possibly on your own Personal Spaceship,  which we’ll look at on October 20th.   If you want alerts when those and other episodes  come out, don’t forget to subscribe to the channel   and hit the notifications bell. And if you  enjoyed today’s episode, and would like  

help support future episodes, please visit our  website, Isaac, for ways to donate,   or become a show patron over at Patreon. Those  and other options, like our awesome social   media forums for discussing futuristic concepts,  can be found in the links in the description.   Until next time, thanks for  watching, and have a great week!

2022-09-25 06:22

Show Video

Other news