The seemingly unstoppable advancement of technology and its consequential effects upon society is a cliché that has been repeated many times; as humans gain more power through the constant growth of technology, they in turn have a bigger responsibility to maintain and control that power.
As of now, humans are no longer the same biological beings that existed thousands of years ago, cavemen who used stone spears and habited caves. Right now, we are “super-humans”; we developed artificial hearts to replace our own, created glasses to enhance bad eye-sight, or invented the automobile to reach long distances. But what happens when we hypothesize our society in a couple hundred years?
For the last century, I would favour your gran with a gun over any martial artist in the world. Today, I’d favour anyone with a basic understanding of Google over pretty much any scholar in matters of general knowledge. Frankly, after a prompt from Dan Griliopoulos, the previous two paragraphs are pretty much evidence of that. I appear more learned than I actually am by the power of a Google search. And that power is only going to increase over time.
“Gattaca” the film we watched in class shows how humanity has changed to idolize the principle of eugenics, where humans are instantly classified based on their genes. To the high-class and nobles of the futuristic society in the film, humanity has ascended, but to the audience the common view is that people have devolved into a society that focuses purely on science. The protagonist, Vincent, has no say or choice with his life as it is determined by an uncontrollable factor. However, throughout the film his achievements as an “inferior” illuminate the flaws of the society and its consequence of relying heavily on technology. Despite being marked as someone who’s destined to achieve nothing, Vincent does the impossible and succeeds in going to space (a feat deemed impossible to someone of his standing).
This film clearly shows how such a deep symbiotic relationship with technology can be disastrous or negative, it’s not always clear-cut about how it’s going to turn out. Even from an ethical standpoint, we can’t simply judge whether our heavy dependence on technology is adverse or not to our future. One can say, “Sure, even though we’ve brought things such as computers and airplanes, we’ve also brought nukes, thus technology is evil!” Indeed, as technology advances, there is a risk to misusing the power it brings. For instance, nuclear bombs are maintained by a group of people, but what if in the future the same power can be utilized so a small group of people can abuse it and cause an apocalyptic world?
An interesting look on this relationship is a game I played called Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The game is set in a futuristic world where humans are heavily influenced with technology; humans are use cybernetic implants to enhance themselves beyond their normal capabilities such as super-human strength, invisibility, etc. However, to maintain these implants, you have to take a drug that maintains the implants or else you’d die. Obviously there’d be people who’d say, “Well, I don’t want to be hooked on a medicine for life, so I don’t want these implants”. However, in this fictional society, those without implants sink to the bottom of the social class. No cybernetics, no money.
Therefore, in the midst of this advancement of technology, there are three opposing sides who have different aims. One side has the corporate, who believes that people can be trusted and that technology must be left continued. The second side is a man named Hugh Darrow, who believes that humanity is doomed and cannot be trusted with technology. The third side is a group that wants to place a special chip within each cybernetic implant to ensure that technology does not cause Armageddon. You the protagonist decides which path to take that determines the fate of humanity.
Within the game, you gain the perspective of all three sides. After seeing through the world of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, I thought that we can’t condemn technology nor praise it. The hopeful side of me believes that technology can be great if left unchecked, but my pessimistic side tells me that people can’t be trusted, thus it must be under constant check.
“With great power, comes great responsibility”