Driving down the road, did you ever look in the rear view mirror to see our red star sinking toward the horizon, and ahead of you that pale white orb levitating all alone in a vast blue sky? We’re cradled between the sun and moon.
Indeed, the sea is so great and our boat so small. Peering through the lens of the James Webb telescope, we now see that we are in fact, cradled between universes — our imaginary hammock strung light years across infinity.
To evoke another poem, our reach does indeed exceed our grasp. Look no further than the scourge of assault weapons so easily available and with meaningless restrictions. “It’s a ‘Mental Health’ issue” is the newest phrase from the NRA-sphere, those who will do anything to keep even reasonable restrictions on the far side of the law. The mental health issue is our inability to reign in and control our own creations. The grasp of a few who have an insane lust for weapons exceeds the reach of the many who desire less violence.
Likewise, what makes us think that AI will be properly controlled? If we think privacy is a problem now, just wait until artificial intelligence is used to collect and profile information on each of us. I might feel better about it if AI could be a weapon wielded by groups like Seneca Lake Guardian against the likes of Greenidge Generation or Seneca Meadows. But those with more money will have faster, greater access to AI as a weapon than not-for-profits. Their reach exceeds our grasp.
Or on a micro-level: organic food waste. I’m talking about all the food that goes down the garbage disposal and has to be processed through the water treatment facility, some of which then ends up in the landfill. Or worse, food that gets tossed in the garbage can. There is no reason for doing either of these when it is so easy to use a composting service. Blueprint Geneva makes composting a no-brainer — just call and get signed up to be on their route. They provide the buckets and compostable liner bags to put the food in. Even though it is within our reach, most of Geneva has not yet grasped it.
There are so many solutions to gnarly problems within our reach but we don’t grasp them. For example, make assault weapons and their ammunition illegal, and require registration and licensing for everyone who now has one. Require every new firearm design to go through a federal health review process before manufacturing, as if a pharmaceutical product. Then require prescriptions for the purchase of any that are approved. Yes, we do want to take away your assault weapons; and no, private ownership of guns is not protected by the Second Amendment — state sponsored militias are. These solutions may seem like a far reach from where we are now but still they are within our grasp.
Solutions to garbage, guns, the social viruses attributed to social media, and vastly reducing our carbon footprints all are within our grasp. To reach for them requires an act of will. I do not pretend to know what safeguards can be raised around AI but it doesn’t take a brilliant mind to recognize some are needed. This isn’t reaching for the stars, it’s reaching for solutions within our grasp.