Archives for category: Lib200

Though at first it may seem that darwinism and humanism are not two things that go together well, I would argue to the contrary.  In general I find science to be a very humanistic pursuit. The whole point of science is to make life easier for people, Even if scientists aren’t always aware of what good they are doing.
Richard Dawkins, an author famous for his book “the selfish gene”, expresses his idea that “our lives are ruled by all sorts of warmer human ambitions” as a response to people saying that his scientific, darwinistic work sucks the meaning out of life.  I tend to agree with him, especially if life happens to ultimately be meaningless, it is even more important to value being a human and the relationships that we are able to form. 
Though Darwin’s and Dawkins’s works both can be misinterpreted as being humanistic, they simply try answer questions of why we act as we do.  They try to understand human behaviour on a genetic level.  In some ways, if you look at our success as a species, in combination with the two authors’ ideas, one might say that they would put humanity on a pedestal of sort.  Dawkins, in particular, says that humans are evolved to the point that we can resist the actions our selfish genes would otherwise have us perform.  He cites the use of birth control as evidence. 
Selfish genes and natural selection and these kind of scientific theories do not determine how we act, what they do is try to explain some of our actions that seem otherwise inexplicable.  Perhaps selfish genes are what dictate our instincts?

Robots are tools that humans use to do things that they themselves don’t want to, or can’t do.  There are amazing applications for robots in all sorts of fields.  One of the videos we saw in our LIB 200 class was about a bionic arm.   Though it is not quite what we see in science fiction movies, it is still a much more liberating prosthetic limb then a wooden arm.  It is pretty cool to think that even losing an arm doesn’t really slow us down too much anymore.   Maybe in the future the “prosthetic” arms will be better and more useful than our current flesh and bones arms, maybe people in the future will voluntarily swap out one arm for a prosthetic…Probably not though.

The things that scare me from the videos are “humanoid” robots.  There are few things that I find odd about them.  A) Why do we think that the “human body” is the most efficient shape for a robot?  B) What is the purpose of these robots?  C) Why do we need to program emotions?  It seems that these robots who turn on us in sci-fi movies have no business existing.  They don’t seem to serve a real purpose.  They should be tools, not artificial humans.  If we try to make artificial humans who think and feel imagine how depressed they would be.  They would know that they are man made, there “souls” are digital and would simply vanish should they cease to exist.   The robots would not have any delusions about an afterlife (not to say that humans are delusional, just that though religions might be right or wrong, robots won’t even have that comfort).  I agree that studying artificial intelligence is a very interesting field, but we can avoid any dystopic and post-apocalyptic futures if we keep robots as tools, and let humans do the thinking.

Try to answer some of the following questions. First, describe briefly the kind of science or technology depicted in your show, movie, book, etc. Are these ‘texts’ scientifically accurate? (For example, a movie with time travel may not show real science, but it is inspiredby scientific possibility—that’s what science fiction normally does.) Is the science ‘dumbed down’ (do you think) to be more attractive or acceptable to the audience?

Lets talk about a show called Fringe.  I warn you there will be spoilers.  Fringe is a very interesting show by the director/writer J.J. Abrams.  It is the epitome of the science experiments gone wrong.  The mad scientist, Doctor Bishop, is literarilly a mad scientist.  He is fully equiped with unkept white hair, a lab coat and a certificate of graduation from an insane asylum.

In an attempt to save his son Peter from dying of some sickness, he breaks many of natures laws and crosses into an alternate universe.  I won’t give away the really big spoiler, but his actions lead to both universes begining to break apart at their foundations.  The episodes are often “experiment of the week” in formula however they are always interesting.  Though the science in the show is beyond what we can do right now, it does not seem impossible.  The explanations are not really dumbed down, however whenever Dr. Bishop goes into in depth explanations of what he is doing, one of the characters often cuts him off.

The science in the show does not get in the way of the humanism.  Though it is definetly a sci-fi show, it is the human aspect, the thin borders between right and wrong, good and evil.

The science that is portrayed in Fringe is very fantastical, yet the realism with which it is portrayed makes one worried that it might be actualized.  Though most of the things, flight, telepathy etc. are very exciting to think about, the negative consequences that are portrayed in the show make them scary as well.  Almost every episode something goes wrong.  The general moral one can take from the show is don’t fuck with the natural laws of the universe, or you will explode in one way or another.