Pandora’s Box

So, where does one start with a new blog?

Let’s go back, let’s go really early, let’s go to the beginning…

Pandora’s Box is a fascinating myth.  The box–actually a clay urn–is opened by Pandora, the first woman on Earth according to Greek mythology. This releases all the forces of evil upon the world before she can manage to close it.  (Sound vaguely familiar?)  But the urn is not empty.  What remains inside is the spirit of hope.

This allegory seems exceptionally relevant to human cultural evolution and may be compared to a large number of major defining leaps in our technological journey. SCIFLIESBLOG will discuss many topics concerning technology and the evolution of the arts and societies, but all will loosely relate to the allegory of Pandora’s Box….you open the box and you must react to the circumstances.

So, the beginning?

Once upon a time there were hominids on this earth that roamed unclothed, without language as we know it,  or any recognizable technology. Perhaps a giant monolith appeared and zapped our early brothers and sisters, prompting one to pick up a a bone and use it as a tool–a weapon. Maybe a supreme deity presented it to us as a gift. I prefer to give us credit for stumbling on to this mighty achievement on our own after a long period of chance, observation and experimentation. However it happened, that clay jar in the head of those early hominids opened and out of it poured a new future–if one wants to interpret that as evil, that is a possible choice.  Evil or not, it triggered a long chain of amazing changes reaching to the screen I a looking at right now–and the screen, phone or pad you are now staring at as well.  We became hooked on technology,  inseparably committed to a new and forever unfinished path.

We have taken this ride as a species but the rest of the planet must travel with us. We have opened more and more clay jars, each unleashing an unstoppable wave of change, at times a tsunami, at times a slow tide…but all reach back to that first stone, that wooden or bone club.

Have we struggled with the forces we have unleashed?

Certainly. And we will continue to open Pandora’s jars–for better or worse–and yes, we will continue to find that in the jar is pervasively and miraculously still a wonderful hope.

Thus begins our discussion of Pandora’s many jars here at SCIFLIESBLOG.

Welcome.

Ken Mazur   1/06/2013

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About Ken Mazur

I remain an explorer of music and science, still a composer, guitarist, novelist, father, teacher, animal rescuer. New blogger, playing at the intersection of the things that bring me joy.
This entry was posted in Evolutionary Changes, Philosophy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Pandora’s Box

  1. Martin Schmitt says:

    Hi Ken,

    You don’t like to think small, do you? Couldn’t you have started your blog with a discussion of, say, gluten-free cake recipes?

    Oh well, Pandora’s box it is; and here’s this devil’s advocate’s take on it.

    I don’t think it took any tools for man to do good or evil. Pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain is fundamental to every living organism’s existence. Even amoebas follow a minimal set of rules to survive and procreate. Increase processing power and add more sensors and you get ever more complex behavior. In situations of limited resources (i.e. most of history), one organism’s pursuit of pleasure often necessitates another’s pain.

    At least in the developed world, technology has vastly increased available resources and thus reduced the number of situations where I can only have my pleasure at your expense. But it has even more dramatically increased the amount of mental math we perform to maximize our pleasure and minimize our pain among a plethora of social and legal constraints, a longer planning horizon due to better fore- and hindsight, greater availability of (mis)information, greater complexity of and higher standards for “the good life”, and so on…

    How will it all play out? Several options:

    1. Doomsday: It’s easy to see how a deliberate or accidental catastrophe could end all of life on this planet, or at least set evolution back to amoeba levels. Maybe such self-destruction is so likely that it explains why we have intercepted no radio signals from the estimated 17 billion planets similar in size to earth in our galaxy.

    2. Ecotopia: We keep muddling our way to some equilibrium between the physical needs of human population and the available resources on this planet.

    3. 60’s Sci-Fi: We go to the stars and start putting our eggs into multiple baskets.

    4. Kurzweil: We virtualize pleasure, and ultimately our existence, by transcending biology and creating human-machine interfaces at neuronal levels, thus eliminating the need for most resources and experiencing constant bliss. Yikes!

    Thanks, Ken, for having opened a Pandora’s box of a blog!

  2. Ken Mazur says:

    I do not see any of the developments as either good or evil as well, merely the adaptive response of an intelligent and ambitious species. I believe there are a few other scenariois
    to consider.
    1. Culture is evolving into an organism itself–most notably as digital technology progresses
    towards potential self awareness and self interest. This brings to mind Stanislaw Lems book,
    “The Furturological Congress,” in which all the intelligences of the galaxy convene at a location
    and of the vast grouping only a couple are organic–the rest are cybernetic. In fact, the organic
    beings are considered filthy and inferior. It may well be that all organic evolution that doesn’t
    end in your scenario one, evolves to a version of your scenario four, but without any interface
    or reference to the old organic roots–basically a new intelligence that is not carbon based.
    2. Another scenario could be a less drastic form of number one in which we fumble our way back to some stone age level after a biological, geological or climactic calamity.–perhaps self induced.
    3. Perhaps a blend of numbers 2/3/and 4–which would be the Star Trek outcome–bright humans
    finding realistic solutions and binging them to the galaxy–with virtual stimulation for enjoyment.

    With all this, I still ponder whether there is a new Urn to open that we have yet to imagine. The
    I Phone is only 6 years old and look at the impact. Sixty years from now, will we have crossed
    some thresh hold–nuclear fusion perhaps, faster than light travel(worm holes), telepathy?

    As we progress with this discussion, our very conversation lends weight to the creation of spoken language as perhaps the big bang of change…just throwing that out there.

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