The reliability of information in relation to technology advancement

The one thing that have caused me to ponder after watching the movie Gattaca was the reliability of information in relation to technology advancement. The film progressed surrounding the question whether one’s identity should be judged based on the advanced genetic test or the intuitive human interpretation? Which outcome would be more accurate in describing a person?

In the world inside the movie, generic test had already reached the level of predicting the exact potentiality of specific illness by generating the percentages. From a scientific point of view, every man had become transparent. And thus, as Jackie Stacey said, a person’s identity was “informatic” (1852). Meanwhile, in Gattaca, the discrimination among the society were raised from gender and ethnicity to gene, which was the essence of a person. People no longer see each other as who they are, but who scientifically they could be. However, is the established physical structure really all what a man is about?

In the movie, the leading man Vincent, a genetically defective man, at the end was able to do what was only meant for genetically extraordinary ones. From narrating this story, Gattaca gradually built up the point that other than the physical capability, one’s spiritual strength could also determine what kind of person he can be. Vincent was predicted to have 99% chance of having heart disease. Yet, he still maintained a good health condition from diligent exercise and a strong faith of achieving his dream. As predictions, the information provided by generic test would always have a chance to be overthrown. Thus the conclusion derived only from these results were biased and unreliable.

Furthermore, another big issue with technology advancement raised by the movie was the widen of the human interference. Vincent was able to become Jerome by providing Jerome’s blood, fingerprint, and urine to the lab tests. The only change he actually performed on his physical body was shortening his height through surgery. However, throughout the movie, he was considered to have manipulated his identity. On the other side, Anton, Vincent’s brother, who had received the best possible physical structure through gene screening, was intervened even before the birth. He was manipulated from head to toe, and from inside to outside. Yet, nobody questioned his identity (because everyone had been manipulated). If Vincent was living as himself under the shadow of another person, Anton was never who he meant to be from the beginning. Who was more real? Going back to the original intention of scientific technology development, it had always been to increase the accuracy of data and analysis. However, in Gattaca, technology had gone backward to interfere the nature of things (and men).

At last, it was worthy noting that problems regarding social discrimination and excess human interference were never solved but indeed intensified in the predicted future in the movie. The message the director tried to convey was that maybe it’s the time for men to really think about whether the development we truly needed was science advancement or social improvement.

PS: The scene I loved the most was when Vincent was revealed right in front of his flight, the laboratorian smiled and let Vincent go. It was such a good punchline, giving the last comfort to the audiences after having them watch a whole movie of struggle and frustration.

Xi Wang

Will be presenting in Week 7 on Science Fiction


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