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Works Cited:

Vaidyanathan, Gayathri. “Big Gap between What Scientists Say and Americans Think about Climate Change.” Scientific American, ClimateWire, 30 Jan. 2015, www.scientificamerican.com/article/big-gap-between-what-scientists-say-and-americans-think-about-climate-change/. Accessed 27 Mar. 2017.

My presentation will be discussing the effects of scientific advancements on dystopian literature, focusing on neuroscience elements and nanotechnology in the brain. The title of my paper is “Examining the Feasibility and Morality of Neuroscience Advancements in Modern Society & Literature,” and it will elaborate on whether specific technology is practical and ethical in human subjects. My research will then link this claim to modern society and dystopian literature, explaining how developments in science and technology influence the content and availability of dystopian fiction.

I am incredibly excited to present something that I am personally extremely passionate about – the human brain. The brain is one of the most complex parts of the body, acting as the center for all rational thought and control. Interestingly enough, scientists do not fully understand how it functions, which is why it remains source of mystery and possibility to the scientific community. For this reason, I look forward to educating those outside the field of neuroscience about how the brain really works, tying it in to something my audience can relate to. Specifically, I will be discussing the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) new brain chips, which are silicone computer chips implanted into the brain to enhance memory and ability and to often help regain lost function. These chips are being tested in soldiers, to possibly enhance their combat skills. Is this possible on a larger scale? Is it even ethical? It’s questions like these that I will be analyzing and breaking down. I will then relate this new advancement to Feed, by M.T. Anderson. In this sci fi novel, brain chips are implemented in the society, with forms of communication, advertisement, and entertainment all centered on the “Feed.” I will show how scientific development might have influenced this kind of fiction, also showing how dystopian literature pitches a predicted future in which all of these developments are used in everyday life.

Works Cited

Devesh. “Want To Implant Or Remove Memories? Use DARPA Brain Chips.” Tech Live Info, CloudPeer Media Technologies, 23 June 2014, techliveinfo.com/want-implant-remove-memories-use-darpa-brain-chips/. Accessed 6 Mar. 2017.

Literature is simply a portrayal of ideas, thoughts, and emotions that are often reflective of the writer’s personal situation and the society in which the writer is in. Dystopian novels especially serve as this reflection of the modern world, in criticizing government, society, and human interest. Personally, I find this theme of incorporating societal concern and technological fear into dystopian literature incredibly interesting. Dystopian writers often focus their novels on predictions of future societies, explaining the possible destruction of current government and societal institutions, while criticizing the ethics in scientific advancements and technological development. Should innovation be criticized? Can scientific improvements be taken too far? Specifically, how do dystopian novels portray a prediction evolution of scientific research, and are these predictions practical, feasible, or realistic? This is the research question I intend to pursue, narrowing my search with a focus on nanotechnology in the human brain, incorporating technology and neuroscience.

The independent reading book that I will be incorporating into my research is Feed, by MT Anderson. I find the societal and government institutions in this book very interesting, as it ties in monopolistic corporations and societal consumerism with neuroscience technology. The book shows how intelligence becomes storable and how materialism becomes the focus of everyone’s lives. The book’s dystopia also raises the question of practicality: can the brain chips, or Feed, in this book become something of reality? I will be expanding on this thought, researching the neurobiology of the feasibility of implanting brain chips, as well as the ethical problems that could arise. I will also tie in societal concerns and economic problems that could accompany this scientific change, as well as shifts in government and public institutions. In addition, is scientific advancement heading towards this direction? Will human nature ever let technology get to the point of total control over daily life? These are the questions I would like to explore in my research. The topics and questions that I am not able to answer now include specifics of brain chip technology, damage done to the brain during implantation, and the plasticity of the brain around the chip itself.

 

Works Cited

Brown, Kristen V. “DARPA Is Testing Implanting Chips in Soldiers’ Brains.” Fusion, 28 Sept. 2015, fusion.net/story/204316/darpa-is-implanting-chips-in-soldiers-brains/. Accessed 20 Feb. 2017.

Anderson, MT. “Feed.” MT Anderson RSS, mt-anderson.com/blog/his-books/books-for-teens-and-adults/feed-2/. Accessed 20 Feb. 2017.

 

Propaganda seems to play a large role in dystopian fiction, as it promotes specific societal standards, plays on social tensions, and relays messages over media to masses of people. In Feed, by MT Anderson, the role of propaganda dominates all others, as society and trends are controlled by the Feed, with implanted brain chips guiding every individual’s thoughts, opinions, and free time. In Anderson’s novel, a group of American corporations regulate and control all things relating to the feed: installation, fees, maintenance, qualitative material, and customer service. From an economic standpoint, this makes the Feed a monopoly, allowing it to charge above market prices and avoid innovation, since there is no competition. This creates a dependence on these corporations, since all business, social, and leisure activities are centered around this technology. The corporations behind the Feed are therefore incredibly powerful and influential, supplying the public with their main medium of communication. This then allows the Feed to display advertisements, images, and propaganda that guide their users to buy more and more from the Feed, making the technology a necessity in their society.

Brain chips are slowly emerging from a fictional impossibility to a realistic scientific endeavor. Does dystopian literature reflect and critique the possibility of this advancement in our modern world? (“Brain Chips”).

Anderson clearly illustrates that public opinion and societal trends are greatly controlled and influenced by the Feed, and specifically through the media that the Feed provides. Flashing advertisements pop up in the character’s minds when they reach any new destination. They’re constantly updated on sales, clothing trends, and TV show updates that pop up in their feeds. The customization of shopping also guides the individual towards what the Feed wants them to like, through advice from online helpers and visual stimulation on the network. All of these images, videos, and updates serve as propaganda that the Feed literally plants in the minds of their users, guiding them towards a specific outcome or sale. The Feed does not only serve as a way of communication between users, but also a way of control and communication between the user and the corporation.

This specific form of propaganda exemplifies the typical government/corporation totalitarian control that often occurs in dystopian fiction. For a non-democratic government system to work, all citizens and participants must consent to their government, or be forced to consent. The Feed serves as the media that subconsciously forces their customers to continue using their services, since the technology has become a social survival necessity. The Feed also reflects on our own modern world, serving as a critique of the rapid advancement of technology and how it will affect our intelligence, communication, and language. Anderson’s Feed is a sort of pessimistic prediction of how society will adapt to technological change, and how personal intelligence and personality may be wiped away.

Anderson’s “Feed” explored a technological advancement that impacted society, government, and individual rights, with propaganda as the center of the technology. “Feed” exemplifies how media can control, not only society, but individual minds. (ISawChannel).

Works Cited:

Anderson, Matthew Tobin. Feed. Candlewick, 2002.

“Brain Chips.” Information Stash, 1 Feb. 2017, www.informationstash.com/Blog/brain-chips.html

ISawChannel. Memory Brain Chip? Episode 13. ISawChannel.com. 19 Mar. 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sKpjCyz8I8

The term dystopia is a derivation neologism, meaning that it evolved as a variation of another word used to name a newly synthesized concept or idea (Claeys 23). Dystopias were originally created to contrast the pre-existing concept of utopia, a term coined by Thomas More that alluded to an imaginary paradise-like place that focused on non-existent social organization that is better than reality (Claeys 20). The concept of dystopia rejects that utopias can exist, discarding any possibility of mankind achieving perfect equality, stability, and peace. However, analyses of different dystopias result in various interpretations of what a dystopia can be. Many literary dystopias have very obvious negative connotations, but others may have only underlying implications of dystopian elements. Personally, I define dystopia as any place or state that reflects an unpleasant social, political, or economic tension in the way the society is structured. Dystopias may also critique contemporary societies by hiding underlying messages about current issues and events, possibly implying fault in how modern society is structured. Dystopias do not have to be a society that is completely overtaken by misery, oppression, totalitarianism, and dehumanization; they are often simply a society that highlights a few aspects of the common dystopian definition.

https://www.writeabout.com/ideas/utopia-vs-dystopia/

In addition, combining dystopia with other literary genres often opens up a new level of depth to interpretation and analysis. Dystopian scientific fiction, for example, exploits possible faults in technological advancement and scientific discovery. As a rapidly evolving civilization, innovative research is always encouraged, yet commonly feared. Dystopian sci-fi literature often embodies this fear, illustrating scientific discovery that goes wrong, with technology dehumanizing civilization. Therefore, dystopias don’t only critique current society, but they also predict future conflict between ethical morality and scientific discovery, altering the definition of dystopia itself.

The dystopian genre can also be changed when comparing adult dystopias and young adult dystopias. Young adult literature uses simpler diction and relatable examples, often alluding to parental restrictions, fleeting romances, teenage hardships, and developing a unique identity. Incorporating the concept of dystopia into a genre for teens alters the way the message is told. For example, in Brave New World, an adult dystopian novel, science molds a perfect society through a totalitarian societal structure and a caste system that eliminates class mobility. This is illustrated through the normalization of sex, the use of in vitro fertilization to control genetics, and psychological conditioning (Huxley, 1-18). On the other hand, in The Hunger Games, a young adult dystopian novel by Suzanne Collins, governmental and societal issues are portrayed through heartbreaking romance, clique-like friend groups, and young characters that are relatable to the audience, such as the teenage heroine, the heart-throb love interest, and the nostalgic friend back at home. Both of these novels exemplify dystopias and a critique of modern society, but in two completely different ways, leading to various interpretations and analyses of the intended message.

References

Claeys, Gregory. The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature. Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic, 2008.

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. Chatto & Windus, 1932.