An underlying but yet still prominent debate in today’s society has to do with the act of genetic enhancements and genetic engineering. It is a topic of discussion concerning the morality behind changing a person’s physical traits in order to better fit an image versus helping a person with a disability, or in any number of other ways. While I was aware of genetic engineering on corn or other foods, I have never paid much attention to the developing technology that could genetically engineer humans, until recently. Reading Partials by Dan Wells has opened my eyes to more details in the debate of genetic engineering.
It could be possible in the near future that humans can choose to genetically enhance themselves to have more favorable physical traits. The technology is in the works to manipulate the specific genes in a baby or person in general to prevent autism, or Alzheimer’s, or give them blue eyes, or make sure they are deaf like their parents. I am now fully invested in the morality and consequences of such genetic engineering. While this may sound appealing, Partials shows how this can go wrong. When the government created genetically enhanced war machines called Partials, their plan backfired and the Partials ended up being more valued and dangerous to the human race than non-genetically enhanced humans were. I would love to be super athletic or have the most desired traits a person can have, but it’s unnatural. Sure it would be great to have all the traits we’ve always dreamed of having, but Partials has shown me this will inevitably create an even larger divide in today’s society, which is the last thing we need. Our world is already divided in every topic you can think of, do we really want to add genetic enhancement to that list? I sure don’t. And I have Dan Wells to thank for that new perspective.
Wells, Dan. Partials. New York, Balzer Bray, 2012.
Black Mirror is a Netflix series with non sequential episodes. In other words, each episode is totally unique in setting, plot, and characters. You can watch the episodes in any order and not be negatively affected. Because of this, Black Mirror can make a multitude of commentaries on the human condition and it’s relation to technology in a variety of ways in a small number of episodes. While each episode explores the unanticipated effects of a new or existing technology on humans, each episode is unique in the way it achieves this.
It is a great show for entertainment purposes because it really twists your mind to look at our world in a different way. Some episodes such as s1e1 do this with subtle changes to our current world. Other episodes are drastically different. Regardless of the episodes differences, you can see trends among all dystopias.
The very first episode seems to be in a world portrayed to be exactly like ours. New technologies that have not been invented yet are not present at all. The basic plot is that a English princess is kidnapped and the captor does not offer a cash ransom. Instead, he says the prime minister has to have sex with a pig on live television. The key quote from this episode is the response when the prime minister asks “What is our move? What does the playbook say?” The response is “there is no play book.” The main point being made here is that social media and media in general has a relatively new role in politics. However, despite it being new, it has an extremely high amount of power. It is a new force that when in the wrong hands is impossible to prepare against. It is dangerous.
While the pilot includes no characters or actors in the following episodes, it is the perfect introduction to the series because it shows that a simple twist can point out a major potential danger in a technology advance society like ours. Furthermore, most of the following episodes are even more technologically advanced to show us the unpredictable affects of new technology. While some of the technology being viewed seems unachievable, it is still scary to watch because we know that the pace of our technological advancement far exceeds the pace of the policy regarding it. Simply put, there are consequences when we make things we do not know how to deal and live with it
When you look at a movie like WALL-E, what do you see? The cute animation disguised it as a children’s movie to be seen by younger audiences. When I watch this movie, what I see is a glaring image of what our future could be. WALL-E portrays a dark story for the human race: we’ve been forced to leave the planet and are living on a huge space ship until Earth is deemed safe to live on again.
The biggest issue is obviously the cause of the human’s exodus from earth: the planet has been completely trashed. Not only has this become a huge issue today, but there’s also lots of people who believe it isn’t an issue at all. Our planet should not be taken for granted, and its conservation is extremely important for our continued use of it as a home.
Another dystopian issue in this movie is the extreme power that one corporation has gained. I’ve been talking a lot about how media consolidation is a huge issue today but this isn’t exclusive to the media. Internet companies consolidating and making deals with local governments has had a drastic effect on internet quality across America in areas that may only have one available provider. Companies themselves should not be considered inherently evil, but we need to ensure that the biggest of companies do not have so much control in society.
The third issue is the humans’ absolute dependence on technology. We currently live in a society where technology has slowly but surely added so many conveniences to our lives. Bicycles have been overwhelmingly replaced by motorized vehicles like cars or even segways and hoverboards. Computers are absolutely everywhere and we have become insanely reliant on them in our daily lives. WALL-E depicts a world where humans are too large to move on their own and they just move around on their hover chairs. With the way that we are currently headed, this is easy to imagine.
As a whole, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the movie as a children’s tale. But if you really dig deep into the movie, you will uncover something much less childish.
The survey was conducted by Match, the largest relationship company in the world, and the participants are singles in America. The study covers many topics, from traits in potential partners, to the do’s and don’ts of a first date, the expectations of a romantic relationship, and how technology has affected dating. The participating group consisted of both men and women, and specific statistics were derived from the millennial generation to draw a comparison between the different generations.
To start with, statistics show that 15% of singles are addicted to dating, they enjoy the process of looking for a date. However, Millennials are 125% more likely to be addicted to dating, which implies how important dating has become in the social aspect of the younger generation’s lives. This statistic is supportive in my argument of how the millennial generation are not really taking dating seriously. Dating seems to be more of an amusing activity rather than trying to form genuine connections with others.
Additionally, singles are very judgmental, and during the mock academic conference, one of the presentations emphasize how insecurity is a flaw of our society that needs to be addressed. 42% of the singles judge their first date by their social media or profile picture, and this attitude contributes to the stigma that appearances are more important than personalities. Social media has only increased the insecurities of society in regards to looks, and the impact has reached the dating realm.
Feminism is a movement that is often misunderstood; in fact, 43% of the singles believe it has many different definitions. Feminism encourages the image of a strong independent woman, and many often translate this into the idea of single women who refuse to date men because they are do not rely on men. The misunderstandings of feminism can in a way discourage the whole romantic chivalrous side of dating, and the millennial generation appears to be the most approving of the feminist movement, which in turn can explain why dating is the least romantic when it concerns millennials.
Overall, the survey can be used as evidence in the research paper as inferences drawn from the statistics support main points of the argument. During the analysis of the survey, Match does project a certain bias towards online dating, emphasizing to the fact that online dating being popular is good, and this bias is logical. Match would not want to discourage the use of dating websites since the company is the original dating website. However, actual numbers from the survey are not biased; therefore, they can be used as evidence in support of the argument of the research paper. The argument is mainly about the millennial dating culture, and the statistics pertaining to the millennials are most relevant. Essentially, the thesis of the argument is that the characteristics implied in this survey are reflected in young adult dystopian novels.
“Singles in America Match Releases Largest Study on U.S. Single Population.” Multivu. Feb 6 2017. www.multivu.com/players/English/8024551-match-7th-annual-singles-in-america-study/?c=y?. Accessed 13 March 2017.
Technology in dystopias is quite a broad topic for conducting research, and I soon found many articles connecting the two. But throughout my time searching, one such source stood above the rest. In “Technology in the Dystopian novel,” Gorman Beauchamp explores the depth at which technology exists within societies, and how it brings about their destruction. Primarily, Beauchamp bases his argument on the dangerous possibilities that arise with the expansion of technology. A totalitarian empire coupled with an advanced technological apparatus could conceivably arise in the future. This type of technotopia would bring into question the methods a government would employ that would limit the general public’s use of such devices. Furthermore, Beauchamp insists that if a society eventually develops into a dystopia, people will worship the Machine, abandoning much of their power as individuals. He concludes that the fall of man will end with the aspirations to become such a machine, and so too lose what makes us human.
Beauchamp employs interesting key terms to combine the fears of dystopia and technology. He presents the idea of a technotopia, an advanced totalitarian government which controls the country via a far reaching technological device. This sort of technological dystopia could arise when man is ignorant of his creations, and they eventually transcend his reach. This evolves into Beauchamp’s concept of the Machine, which takes the faith of the people who worship it mindlessly. This occurs when the state is taken over by technology to the point where life itself relies on the mechanical deity to survive. Many other researchers interested in technology and dystopia would find a use for the source. The concepts Beauchamp introduces are good food for thought when considering what to search for next.
The article is organized in a thoughtful, comprehensive way. Beauchamp presents his ideas by outlining how technology becomes more and more incorporated into society over time. The article begins with how technology is incorporated in modern society and ends with the full takeover of machine power. It is an important source because of the unique views offered about how controlling technology can become. He presents this view of the future to provide an interesting view on how societies could fall through the overuse of technology. The dehumanization of people and emersion of technology as a ruling power emphasizes how fine a line we are on when it comes to progress and society. Beauchamp’s article highlights how bad a dystopia can be when we are enslaved to the very machines we create, and it offers a new look on what kind of dystopia will form from our own actions.
- Beauchamp, Gorman. “Technology in the Dystopian Novel.” Modern Fiction Studies, vol. 32 no. 1, 1986, pp. 53-63. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/mfs.0.1315. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/244281.
One article that could contribute greatly to many presentations is “America the Dystopia?” by Jean Card. Card presents the idea that our world is getting closer and closer to one of the many dystopian societies that fiction writers depict today. She describes historical, political, and cultural changes that are gaining momentum, but that will affect our world in a negative manner. She proceeds to detail the government found in many dystopian societies: a large government led by a charismatic leader who relies on martial order and control of natural resources. Continuing on through the article, she breaks down many individual characteristics of dystopias, and indirectly connects them to our own world.
The first idea Card gives the reader is, “Big government and big media are dominating American society and suffocating free speech. Who will rise up?”. If the presenter is of the opinion that America could possibly move toward a dystopian-like existence, then this article examines many of the aspects that support that claim. Card breaks down the way the government and media have taken steps to inhibit truly free speech. She defines the term “political correctness” and talks of how many American citizens feel “muzzled” by the negative reception speaking freely brings. This, she states, is due to the way the centralized media has been grooming the culture. She speaks of every kind of diversity being so embraced that it almost feels enforced. She goes on to give a breakdown of how she believes our government has devolved from the shining ideal our forefathers created it to be.
Technology is another aspect that Card analyzes in our society and then compares to technological usage in fictional dystopias. Technology, she says, in dystopias has made almost magical advancements, and, yet, if we look at the technology we have in our world today, we can see just as “magical” of advancements. The information that can be accessed with our technology typically comes from a centralized source. One of the examples Card gives is as follows, “Facebook has the centralized, massive, unprecedented power to influence the information we consume, almost blithely, on a daily basis,”. The technology and information available to us has become both a blessing and a curse. In all, the article is good food for the thought if nothing else, however, if your own opinion is mirrored in the article, it can be quite a valuable resource.