The Big Niche: a practical understanding of our universe

  1. The Big Niche is the sum of all discovered and undiscovered possibilities in the universe.

  2. The example of music in The Big Niche.

  3. Completion is the end point.

To understand human progress, it is necessary to have a categorization of all current and future practical knowledge. For this purpose, we can use a concept called The Big Niche.

What is the big niche?

1. The Big Niche is the sum of all discovered and undiscovered possibilities in the universe.

Practical knowledge is any information that is recognized instinctually in the human brain, any information that we have collectively learned, and any information that we will learn in the future. It is any understanding that is useful to humans. To understand practical knowledge more clearly, we need to first understand the reality of possibilities.

All possibilities exist independent of whether they have been discovered or completed yet. Before Newton discovered the concept of gravity, gravity existed. Before we discovered how to make firearms, the elements necessary to make a gun and gunpowder existed, and so the possibility of firearms existed.

The reality of the universe (the matter and rules and laws) manifests itself into certain specific and limited possibilities. The possibilities (of ideas to discover, inventions to create, species to evolve) all exist independently of whether they have actually been discovered or created.

The big niche is the sum of all discovered and undiscovered possibilities. We can imagine it as a permanent structure or map of what is possible. It applies to natural phenomena, evolution, and every aspect of human civilization.

This is not intuitive to understand, but it will help to look at…

2. The example of music in The Big Niche.

The best way to think of this concept is to think of a niche. A niche is the potential for a species to thrive in a unique position and equilibrium in an environment. A number of factors in an environment create the possibility for that niche.

In the same way, every field and subject of human civilization is comprised of limited factors, and the factors manifest into specific points of equilibrium that are possibilities. This is true of Math, Science, Art, Technology, Social Sciences, etc.

Let’s look at the example of music:

A song (Beethoven’s Fur Elise) is a possibility that is a manifestation of the matter and laws of the universe that allow vibrations which can be recognized as sound. The song requires the notes, scales, chords, and rhythms that are also possibilities, as well as the possibility of a piano.

All of these factors manifest themselves into specific limited song possibilities—including the song Fur Elise—which exist independently of whether they have been created. The song exists within the niche of a certain style, within the niche of a certain genre, which is within the niche of music in general, which is one niche in the entire big niche.

Additionally, we can see the boundaries of a certain niche. The clearest example is to examine “completed” genres. While music is still being created, it is now apparent that we are post-peak in certain genres–namely classical and jazz. Those genres went through a variety of styles that were completed, and all major possibilities were exhausted. There will never be another Beethoven or another John Coltrane. The best music is behind us.

The big niche concept is still difficult to grasp, but it will help to understand the idea that…

3. Completion is the end point.

Human progress follows a predictable pattern in each field. Progress is slow at the beginning, then speeds up as a foundation of ideas is built, and then climaxes as the majority of possibilities are exhausted in that niche. This can be approximated by a boom and bust curve called the Completion Curve. Below is the completion curve and an example of it applied to the timeline of classical music (from 1400 AD to the present):

In a similar way, we can view all of human progress as one completion curve of the big niche. The overall project of humanity can be called Completion—to learn everything that is knowable in our universe.

Progress is speeding up. I believe that music, fiction, and film are all close to being substantially completed—there appears to be a declining rate of new film stories and new music styles/subgenres. Soon, our greatest works will be behind us. Other industries and fields are likely approaching completion as well. For any individuals looking to discover or create something important, it is better to get into a field that is not close to completion.

This concept of the big niche can give clarity to further efforts at creation and discovery, and hopefully speed up human advancement towards a greater future. Completion of the big niche will have large ramifications for society. At the same time, we must work to discover the ideal niche which will inform what is best for people in this new world.

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