As the never-ending pursuit to advance society continues, collectively we must also come to an awareness of the necessity to respect boundaries and the need for caution. Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein compliments the ideas of Bill Joy in his persuasive article “Why the future doesn’t need us”. Frankenstein, considered one of the first science fiction novel ever written, presents the reader with a reality which on the exterior seems farfetched however, upon closer consideration may actually represent a truth about the world we live in today. Mary Shelly does an excellent job of constructing a timeless novel warning against the “over reaching” of modern man during the industrial revolution. The underlying message, presented as Victor’s creation in the novel, must be taken strongly into consideration as the main theme Shelly hoped to construct; the scary realization that misguided technology may not only lead to unwarranted creations but disastrous consequences.
Advances in technology are taking place often and going unnoticed by the general public or brushed aside simply as a fleeting impression to most people. These may not be as fictitious as creating human life, as Victor Frankenstein did but that is not the point. That is the argument Mary Shelly presents the readers with in her time period while Bill Joy presents his persuasive argument to us today in a somewhat similar time period in terms of advancement, showing us dangerous that are very real and very serious.
Despite Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein being considered a science fiction novel, it cannot be overlooked as farfetched ideas or taken simply for what it is. The fact is without proper consideration regarding new technology who knows what may result in the future. This idea is complimented in Bill Joy’s persuasive essay, “Why the future doesn’t need us”. Joy spends huge portions of his essay describing potential downfalls to the human race by the potential out-of-control production of robots or other artificial intelligence. If this may be in the near future or not we cannot be sure but the argument Joy adamantly persuades holds strong no matter the time period. Without proper regulation or concern for long term consequences things have a natural way of getting out of hand. “The new Pandora’s boxes of genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics are almost open, yet we seem hardly to have noticed. Ideas can’t be put back into a box”. This haunting quote from Joy describes the concern that should be noted by more and more people. With proper upfront thinking before simply impulsively acting would prevent any unwarranted shock from new ideas or inventions. Technology is not bad and this is not what Joy intended to argue. However, this “technical arrogance” can overcome people and a blind eye plagues far too many people when the realization of what they can do with their mind overshadows rational judgment.
Is Frankenstein a symbolic foreshadowing of the future if we are not careful? We cannot be sure of this unless action is taken to safeguard ourselves from disaster. Protective barriers or proper safety measures are essential in the further study of genetics, robotics or nuclear weapons. Joy writes, “Another idea is to erect a series of shields to defend against each of the dangerous technologies”, this may seem general but the effort must start somewhere and can’t be shrugged off as something for the future. A very interesting part of Joy’s essay described a childhood memory when he told of his grandmothers opposition to the overuse of antibiotics not because she was an “enemy of progress” but because of the fears of the uncertainly of such things. Now this isn’t an argument against antibiotics or any advancement for that matter but rather a question of when is enough? Can we not work to simplify things we already have instead of complicating our lives with things we do not have. Why focus on such complex things without even fully understanding simpler things or even us as a species. We will always instinctively have the urge to know according to Aristotle and this makes sense. We should always be curious and strive for new things to better society. However, what seems the more important virtue in our time is humility, having the awareness of our order of life and the importance of respecting that knowledge by protecting ourselves from good intentions gone awry.
The hardest part to this problem is coming to an agreement as a people of both what we want and what we need for the future and only then reaching an idea of how to best go along doing this in a safe and logical way. Coming to an understanding of this would put much more certainty towards what lies ahead in the future and much less danger to the unknown.