“Aristotle opened his Metaphysics with the simple statement: ‘All men by nature desire to know.’” The desire to know has led the world headfast into the 21st century at a rate that could be destructive to humanity. Many terrible things are anticipated in Shelley’s Frankenstein that have come to pass without acknowledgment or worry from the scientific and technological leaders of the today. The most dangerous thing, however, is the excessive hubris that is filling the minds of the brilliant.
The first problem that hubris and the desire of unlimited knowledge create is a world of uncertainty. Shelley presents this position in the simple fact that Victor unknowingly doomed William with his obsession. As he states, his downfall began early in his life when he was exposed to a vast amount of knowledge without judgment. If he was taught this information, rather than educated himself there would be bounds, but nonetheless the knowledge paired with a youth’s imagination condemned his poor brother in the future. Also, another aspect of his personality, which is prevalent in today’s technology market, is the thought that this knowledge can do anything and failure is not an option, a form of hubris. Victor ultimately forfeited the chance to make his own decisions, because his actions will be based upon how his creation acts. Bill Joy agrees and notes this point by stating “what we do suggest is that the human race might easily permit itself to drift into a position of such dependence on the machines that it would have no practical choice but to accept all of the machines' decisions.” The technologically advanced needs to not ignore the lesson learnt by Victor and realize that all actions, even knowledge based experiments, may have repercussions that are out of their hands. If the message is looked over and taken with a grain of salt, the near future might look like a sci-fi movie where humans are the slaves of the creations.
Pride is an essential part to many people’s characters in all walks of life. Pride alone is something that defines a person, but when pride is excessive disaster can strike and a person can be consumed. The thought of failure or being outdone is what dictates the marketplace of the 21st century and in the technology world can lead to colossal misfortunes. A scientist or inventor can easily be ostracized and consumed by the thought of the completion of a project. When this happens, they fall into the dark side and lose what is important which is the advancement of humanity and will often make mistakes that lead to suffering. Victor turned into a madman and created a monster, a monster that the very thought of such an existence is unimaginable to most. If the current industries follow in this path they will compete to the level which will be beyond human reach and bestow power to the machines. However to stop this transformation, companies must do what is best for humanity and less for themselves.
A third lesson that can be learned from Frankenstein is that all things will eventually die off (inferior robots) or adapt (superior robots). This is revealed through the actions of his Daemon. At first, the creature walked awkwardly and could only grunt, but when we later catch up to the beast it has the ability to murder and frame an innocent person. Bill Joy states several examples of past text that all agree with this point. The one that I related to the most (because of the movie) was I, Robot where the very machines that we built to protect us evolve to enslave humans. Joy’s theory of how this happens is because “with each of these technologies, a sequence of small, individually sensible advances leads to an accumulation of great power and, concomitantly, great danger.” He warns us that eventually the evolution of machines will advance to the point of consciousness and the inevitable uprising of machines through nanotechnologies.
The above are all events anticipated by Shelley’s Frankenstein which could have easily been eluded. Joy offers the alternative “to limit development of the technologies that are too dangerous, by limiting our pursuit of certain kinds of knowledge.” If this simple action would have been done by Ingolstadt, than all the foreseeable problems would have been avoided. Without supervision, Victor recklessly creates his monster because of inspiration from a bolt of lightning with no thought of repercussions. If the current path of the technology industry follows in his steps and doesn’t note his abominable outcome, then someone will eventually create a modern day “Frankenstein” that will be the downfall of humanity. In conclusion, “We are being propelled into this new century with no plan, no control, no brakes” but it is not too late to change.