Narrative and Technology
In the works of both Shelley's Frankenstein and Bill Joy's essay "Why the future doesn't need us", the possible threats presented by technology take very similar forms. The fear of robotic, genetically engineered or cloned individuals existing among us is clearly expressed in both works, displaying the ongoing uneasy feelings held for technological advancements. Viewing new sciences and technologies as a threat to society is clearly not a new idea expressed in Bill Joy's essay, as Shelley's Frankenstein conveys the same fears centuries prior.
The scientific advancements taken place in Frankenstein are remarkable for that time, and allude to the horrific, deadly effects that innovation and technology is thought to eventually have on society. Whether Shelley was more concerned with the literal presence of nonhuman beings in society, or used the monster to represent the advancements of that time, it is clearly predicted that this creation would be the eventual downfall of humans.
Bill Joy's essay thoroughly investigates the most advanced technological aspects of the present: genetic engineering, nanoscale technologies, and robotics, among many. Similar to Shelley's fears, Joy predicts that these particular advancements will be the cause of disastrous events in the future. Always a popluar fictional plot, the thought of robots eventually taking over is a horrifying and somewhat common fear experienced by many. While technology remains quite far from allowing such occurances, scientific discoveries throughout the world have instead proven very to be very beneficial to society thus far.
In Shelley's time, novel scientific advancements had just begun to take place, and the unfamiliarity of such events sparked a widespread concern that remins present today. Though the looming threat of technology will certainly remain, one must be sure to consider the many positive aspects that have come from such innovations. To date, technological and scientific advancements have accomplished spectacular feats, many of which have the ability of helping people worldwide. Our world would be a very different place in the absence of such advancements, and to the wrongful predictions of Shelley and Joy, the continuous coexistence of humanity and technology has yet to be our downfall.