2020-12-10 Musing from Inside the Promethean Gap

Is it wrong to approach the world, tentative and wanting? Believing in good intentions and people? That we’re all just stuck here temporary and harmless, abandoned on a mysterious spiral arm of stars?

Is it wrong to believe in the power of human connection, however small. The innocence of it. The delicate nature of trust. When we die, as we all do, are the acts we perform, both knowingly and unknowingly, judged?

What if the big things don’t matter? What if that which lies beyond—the ultimate unknown which teeters just at the edge of the Event Horizon—takes us in as our physical being expires and instead of a lens built to look at the acts we’ve performed in our lifetime, we are measured by what we didn’t do?

Have we been given the gift of life and wasted it?

After all, like the rest of the Universe we’re just matter—molecules and atoms—stuck together in a myriad of configurations. The great mystery of whether our becoming was a random fluke or was engineered entirely on purpose remains unknown.

I posit that if our existence here was on purpose, then the answer to the aforementioned questions are also being kept from us by design.

Are you with me? Or have I lost you?

Three unrelated circumstances.. I’ll call them circumstances, for the lack of a better word, are swirling in my brain. Well, at least three. Their chemicals mix and lead me to question my own actions and how to proceed.

  1. I met a man about a year and a half ago who might not yet qualify as a man, because of age and maturity. There was a connection and I enjoyed talking with this person, to the point I would consider him a friend. Setting unease about my own motivations aside, I’ve come to discover this person might be lost on the path of life. Perhaps in some trouble. Do I try to help?
  2. For the lit mag I’m managing, I’ve recently set submissions for writers that are BIPOC to free, waiving our typical fee (only $3 to begin with). Such a tiny thing, this decision, but now we’re getting subs and find one from a man who doesn’t qualify, electing to use the free option instead of the paid option. I could decline with a request to please use the other option or I could just let it go. It could be an innocent mistake. There are people more sheltered than I. Perhaps he doesn’t know what BIPOC stands for. What do I do?
  3. (The newest and strangest by a wide margin.) Mr. SCC emailing me out of the blue asking for assistance defining the term Promethean Gap. Yes, I bit on it and chewed it. After some research and reading I fashioned what I felt was a sufficient reply. I attempted to be thoughtful, thorough, and above board in my response. A kind and cordial reply. And thought that would be that. But now there’s a new message in my in-box. A reply to my reply. It’s composed mostly as a “thank you” but includes some other commentary and an open-ended question. It concludes with a request for me to call. Call?! What to do? What response is appropriate?

Ok. So besides that, about #3 specifically. The original question was fascinating. I’d never heard the term Promethean Gap Before. I think that’s what pulled me into research, besides the strange coincidence that led to SCC contact me.

The Promethean Gap, also sometimes translated as Promethean Discrepancy (a German by the name Gunther Anders invented the term post WW), is a philosophical concept / theory that approaches the problem of man (humankind) having the capability to imagine and invent beyond what we are individually or collectively able to be as flawed corporal beings. In short, the gap between man and machine. Mr. Anders was also concerned about the consequences of this Gap and how it might affect the both the individual and society.

We can make machines that have longevity, power, and more recently intellect which far exceeds our own. Further, the gap is a space where we, the human race, have difficulty fully realizing the consequences of those creations.

The most common example is the invention of the Atomic Bomb. I would make a personal leap and say that the invention of computers, the internet, and AI, while making our lives seemingly easier, also holds a very destructive power with implications to society and the individual that we have not even begun to understand. 

As stated, the theory originally proposed is concerned with how individual beings come to terms with their humanity and individual power, versus machine power or a collective power. If we build a machine greater than ourselves, do we not become obsolete? Can we be held accountable? Does each of us have a responsibility to hold tight to greater ideals for the greater good? “Greater good” .. whatever that means.

Is it merely a coincidence that SCC found me? Or is the Universe throwing tea leaves on my path? If it’s the latter, how am I to interpret them?

One of the articles I read in my research was about a pilot who was involved, as a matter of duty, with the bombing of Hiroshima. Overcome with guilt it pretty much wrecked his life.

When I read this I can’t help but think of seemingly unrelated content, the Snowden docudrama, the Social Dilemma docudrama. How we invented the Genie and then let it out of the bottle. It can’t be undone.. the invention of computers and the internet. We can’t possibly comprehend the long term consequences.

But I watch my children, the next generation, and can’t help but feel a little bit sick about their use of electronics. And not just my children, but all people who don’t know life without a personal computer in their pocket. The unhealthy nature of social media. A rise in depression, anxiety, and suicide. It’s alarming.

The mind-bending power of the internet, driven by profit where they use your own data and likes to serve up content to keep you engaged and focused on a tiny screen instead of real human beings. The sheer amount of data being collected and stored (Often without permission) is daunting.

Rewind to a few months ago when I was watching the docudrama about Ted Kazinsky. Was he wrong? Or was he just a mad Genius who was right on. Led to destruction by being trapped in the Promethean Gap?

Snowden too, refusing to follow orders like the man tasked with the Hiroshima bombing. He’s now living life in Russia but with a clear conscience.

Is there any amount of bottom line profit that can clear the conscience of Babbage, Cerf, Kahn, Gates, Jobs or Zuckerberg? Mere mortals unknowingly making the Gap larger without foresight. No way they could even know the consequences of their inventions. We’re all human after all.

Wow. That went long. Sometimes I’m not sure where my mind will wander but I definitely have more thinking to do. As far as acting on current current circumstances.. I don’t think I have my answers yet. Getting there though. Getting closer. We’ll see.

With Peace and Love,
~Miss SugarCookie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: