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.
The YA dystopian novel Feed by M. T. Anderson is a satire in multi-perspectives. One of the aspects is that people become less intelligent—they lose the ability to think. While this is caused by an improper use of, or overdependence on, technology as well as the domination of consumeristic values, education also plays a vital role, which leads me to reflect on the various types of educational systems at present.
Titus totally denies the value in our current education: “Back then, it was big boring, and all the kids were meg null, because they didn’t learn anything useful, it was all like, da da da da, this happened in fourteen ninety-two, da da da da, when you mix like, chalk and water, it makes nitroglycerin, and that kind of shit?” (Anderson 59). In contrast, their futuristic “SchoolTM” is “pretty brag, because it teaches us how the world can be used, like mainly how to use our feeds…how to work technology and how to find bargains and what’s the best way to get a job and how to decorate our bedroom” (Anderson 59). The key difference is the “usefulness”: most of what we learn today in school will never be applied to help us survive in society. Then why do we still study them? I found the answer in Feed. As they depend completely on technology for knowledge, their brains are not trained to think, and therefore the only possible solution to every problem is asking for help from the feed.
How about our own educational systems? Are they mostly practical or do they target thinking ability? The debate in China on the extent to which western, or mostly American, education system should be adopted has been a focus in recent years. Compared to U.S. students, Chinese students learn more difficult materials and are able to solve much more complicated problems from primary school to college. However, when they enter work to solve real world problems, the Chinese do poorly on average compared to Americans, even in academia. It was first confusing to me since the Chinese are clearly trained in sophisticated and intensive thinking, how can they lose at a later stage? The analogy from Feed brought me insight on depth versus breadth: as Chinese students choose between STEM and social sciences in high school and only take classes in their major in college, all US students have to take courses from all disciplines to complete general education. In a sense, the Chinese education is similar to SchoolTM where the study is only relevant in a specific context, whether it is the feed or the convoluted problems made up by teachers in a specific field. Just as Titus is helpless on problems that can’t be solved by the feed, Chinese students are inadequate in solving real world problems due to their mind set bounded to solving unrealistic problems on paper. In comparison, American students are exposed to diverse ways of thinking as different strategies are used in STEM fields, social sciences and humanities.
Such a wider variety in the “thinking strategy toolbox” empowers them to try out different approaches when simply using complicated equations doesn’t help in laying out a business plan for their company. Therefore, the problem with Chinese education system is not the super hard tests as most people believe, but the lack of variety of subjects. More courses should be introduced at an earlier stage, for instance, psychology, sociology, archeology, philosophy and engineering basics classes may be introduced in high school or even middle school. Students should be exposed to different modes of thinking throughout their education, which prevents over-reliance on any one approach and ending up as “dumb” later in practice.
This article is what first introduced me to the posthuman concept. It establishes analytical points that outline both the motivation and the application of Post humanism within various aspects of society.
It first outlined the reason why post humanism is used frequently within pop culture and current mediums. Essential it is born from the dissatisfaction of everyday life. By envisioning something different, Post humanism motivates both religious and scientific thought. The idea of transcendence and the notion that “changing what we are means, in a way, letting go of what makes us suffer” (Marsen). Marsen points out that the foundation of Post humanism is its exploration on how we interact with the world differently. These changes to external circumstances result in both negative and positive reactions. The positive results would be the avoidance of suffering such as disease, isolation, poverty, oppression, and prejudice. However, these interactions also can instigate the blind acceptance of injustice.
Transhumanism, a subarea of Post humanism, also is a point of consensus. Reverence towards the scientific method, and its connection to human advancement, is the focus point of transhumanist teachings. Through precision, objectivity, and fallibility, transhumanist theorist are proponents of an advanced human condition. One could view them as activist looking to science to help relieve suffering from the human experience. Marsen also addressed the controversy circling this theory. Although transhumanist applications are no new phenomenon, and have allowed the human better control and understanding of their body, individuals fear the rate of change scientific and technological advancement is undergoing and insist on the proper path of integration for current and future advancements. One concern is the strong grasp of the internet. The Internet has become an embedded member in our lives, however fears arise as that grip becomes stronger and venture further between the cracks of our lives. Marsen presents studies that conclude non-physical spaces ignite escapism, addictive behavior, and emotional isolation.
Lastly, this article follows up with the emergence of technology as adaptive interfaces. This connects well with my independent novel Feed by M.T. Anderson (put link to another blog). Marsen highlights three components of the user interface and how they are used. First, is immersion. By engaging more and more of the user’s senses, interfaces construct a unique user experience that immerses them into false perception and a blurred view or reality. Second, is persuasion. These simulated environments are so immersive, that they link into the daily lives of the user, forcing them to classify it as a necessity. Lastly, interfaces eventually become a meeting ground between humans and machines. As interfaces become more adaptive, the user interface will become consciously human, resulting in potential dialogue or possible conflict.
As an introductory element of the Post human concept, it is rooted in multiple field of inquiry. Topics of transhumanism, perfection, social behavior, cognition, and technological interfaces are address as synthesized. Marsen created source for such a diverse topic!
Marsen, Sky. Ceoming More Than Human: Technolgy and the Posthuman Condition Introduction, Journal of Evolution and Technology, Vol. 19, Issue 1 ,September 2008, pgs i-v http://jetpress.org/v19/marsen.htm
Throughout this semester, we’ve been reading and discussing countless elements of Young Adult Dystopian literature, from timelines, to love stories, scientific advancement, and so on; but, have we ever stopped to ask why specifically young adult literature? Is there something special about these characters that defines an entirely different genre? In my conference presentation and research paper, I’ll be discussing why young adults have acted as powerful enough characters to make this genre as popular and profitable as it is.
As visible in this graphic, following the publication of The Hunger Games in 2008, the percentage of literature with a dystopian theme skyrocketed, many of the most popular of these publications containing young adult characters, such as M.T. Anderson’s Feed, Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, and Veronica Roth’s Divergent. These stories showcase young adults, which I’ll refer to as 15-24-year-olds, facing similar problems and pressures to what we face in our everyday lives. They fight for what they believe in in a world that is different, yet not completely unrecognizable from ours OR impossible for ours to become. What draws such a connection between these characters and audiences of all ages are the relatable aspects of life that readers can relate to through their youth, and how relevant many of the issues the characters face are to the youth population today.
One interesting aspect of young adult literature that I want to elaborate on in my argument is how intensely the following of such a relatable character can influence trends in the genre. For example, the Divergent series was profitable enough to be turned into a movie, even though critics speculate that the book’s plot was so poor that it must’ve been written merely for money-making purposes (Dean, 48-49). This book wouldn’t have been able to connect to so many people had they not become attached to the main character and the challenges she faces, and even though it was not necessarily critically acclaimed, it did its job of connecting to people of all ages through a young character. My presentation is not a case study on Divergent, however, but rather it is a study of how characters similar to those in the aforementioned texts are shaped around their environments to become characters that everybody seems to want to read about.
Brown, Patrick. “The Dystopian Timeline to The Hunger Games [INFOGRAPHIC].”Goodreads. Goodreads Inc., 21 Mar. 2012. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.
Dean, Michelle. “Our Young-Adult Dystopia.” New York Times Magazine, Feb 02 2014, pp. 48-49. New York Times; ProQuest Central; ProQuest Newsstand; Research Library, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.prx.library.gatech.edu/docview/1495412558?accountid=11107.
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.
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.
The human condition has come a long way, and even today we thrive on the concept of going further. Within the world of dystopian fiction, the definition of “human” is often the point of contrast. In a society, there are multiple pillars that support the foundation of progress, and improvements placed on infrastructure, transportation, and communication have made our surroundings ever-changing. Swarmed with so much external innovation, the aim eventually turns to the refinement of human nature. Altering the human form is current and optimistic, however in many dystopian texts these modifications lead to a disastrous world that is no longer human, but “post human”.
The novel Feed by MT Anderson takes place in future America. The world has gotten a little bit bigger, even adding a few planets to our diplomatic roster. Much innovation has occurred, yet so has much destruction. The latter is not discussed much, but we are given a clear picture of humanity, and it’s not what one would expect. The human population have acquired brain implants that allow them to access “The Feed” which connects the user to everything they could possible want or need. This becomes an artificial addition to the human body; however, technology is not the only alteration present. Due to the radiation exposure presented on Earth, adults striving to be parents must resort to genetic engineering. The book does not confirm how long radiation contact has been an issue, but Feed presents a new human race that can no longer produce children on their own. This alteration of genes also births the institution of cloning which appears specifically in the form of Abraham Lincoln by the main character’s best friend, Link. Even the main character, Titus, was modeled after his parent’s favorite male film star. Partnered with human infertility are the outward signs of Earth’s dire conditions. The hazardous effects of the environment appear in the form of throbbing lesions on the body. This is normal. In fact, lesions become so prevalent among the human population that they are even made into a fashion statement, with girls getting fake lesions or wishing for more. Humanity is almost unrecognizable. (Anderson, Feed)
When tackling the concept of dystopian post humanism, it’s easy to conjure up just the technological and scientific alterations of man, however it extends beyond that. Dystopias illustrates humanity that is very different than what we see it as now, and it often aids in the many sufferable conditions of the dystopian world. It seems that there is a limit placed on the human condition, and the distance of human exploration. While not all dystopian societies have the physical exaggerations like Feed, the majority presents humanity in new distorted shades. I’m interested in investigating the post human specimen, and how dystopias establish new constructs of the human race.
Anderson, Matthew. Feed. Candlewick Press, 2002.
M.T. Anderson’s Feed takes place sometime in the (hopefully) not so near future, with a main emphasis on social media and corporations taking over everything in America, from School^TM to private instant messaging. Subtly, underneath all of the advertising we see clogging Titus’s (the main character) mental feed, we also catch glimpses of a future in which the Earth is nearly too toxic to safely inhabit, and in which America goes to war and cuts off ties with other world powers without much explanation. In this grand scheme of events, the novel focuses on a group of (mostly) uninformed teens who have little to no life experience without a chip in their brains telling them almost everything they could ever need to know. In this dystopia specifically, I’m most interested in the development of technology, how separated the young adults are from the world around them, and how the young adults develop with such a connection between the internet and their brains.
Following these interests, one possible main research question of mine is: What traits do young adults pose that make them so well-suited for the dystopian genre? In Feed, the sheer amount of time spent on social media is strongly emphasized, which is incredibly reminiscent of complaints by parents about their kids in America today. This makes young adults an incredible audience for a story like this because of how well they can relate, perhaps even more so today than when the book was originally published back in 2002. Alternately, another question of mine is: How does the development of technology impact in YA dystopian literature? The impact of technology in Feed is rather intense, as the function of one’s feed chip directly correlates with their brain and therefore their physical and mental health. Are teenagers just rebellious enough naturally to fight back against the system that makes their world a dystopia in the first place? Are young adults better suited to understand world problems when articulated through ways in which they can relate? This is just a taste of some of the questions I’m hoping to answer and understand throughout the ongoing and upcoming research process.
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.
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.