There is some chance that, in the future, we will interact with either (1) aliens who are so much smarter than us that we can’t really comprehend them or (2) artificial intelligence that will far surpass human intelligence.
The Rise of Science
Over the past few hundred years, science has ascended as one of the primary mental models of humanity. So many of the ideas that we determine to be true, or whose adherence grant status, are born out of science.
This is not to say that religion and politics are unimportant; rather, it’s only to say that for most of humanity science didn’t really exist – and that over the past few hundred science has grown to be a primary mover of humanity.
As far as I can tell, the rise of science has been a generally good thing for humanity, though I’m open to the idea that the hunter and gatherer life was pretty ok – and that science may be the foundation from which we destroy ourselves.
The Limits of Human Science
The limits of human science stem from the limits of the human brain. There’s a reasonable chance that there are truths out there that we will never be able to understand because of our limited brain capacity.
On planet Earth, humans are the best there is at science, so we’ve not yet had to confront the humiliating inadequacy of our science.
But aliens or AI may understand the world in ways which we are simply incapable of mastering.
Once we encounter entities that render our science functionally moot – in that it no longer explains the knowledge we know possess from witnessing the wonders of aliens or AI – then human science will lose its usefulness and status at a rapid pace.
At this point, my guess is that either religion or politics will increase in importance.
Religion is the practice of finding meaning in the unknowable.
Politics is the practice of finding meaning in the tribal.
Givent that aliens or AI would be knowable, my guess is that politics would trump religion and science in this new world.
Humanity, at this point, might divide itself in accordance to (1) tribal affiliation to specific alien or AI personalities or (2) tribal affiliation of how to interact with the knowledge that we are intellectually inferior to other beings.
Putting Science in Its Place
Human science is a pretty amazing thing, but it’s dominance is probably temporary.