“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity” Einstein. To what extent is this view explored in the texts you have studied? For our pursuit of knowledge and technology, we start to lose our sense of humanity, abandoning our values, ethics and emotions to dangerously pursuit more in our quest for knowledge, the results devastate those who dare to pursue knowledge and technology.
As seen in the Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner and Mary Shelly’s text Frankenstein, other wise known as the modern Prometheus, the pursuit of greater knowledge that rival’s God’s ability to create life, has made the ambitious to lose their sense of humanity. Ridley Scott’s BR establishes itself as a postmodern cyberpunk world where the world has lost its sense of humanity for commercialism and commerce, whereas Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein’s gothic tone and theme where Victor Frankenstein’s ambition for knowledge brought himself sorrow and suffering.
This film and text distinguish between themselves various similarities and differences on the pursuit dangers of technology exceeding our humanity through different context in which they created. Ridley Scott’s BR is a film set in 2019 Los Angeles, where the world has abandoned nature, humanity and art, to be replaced with commercialism, industry and scientific pursuits. It expresses a bleak look into the future using film techniques to enable responders to cogitate on the progress of science and technology overtaking our lives.
BR expresses the nature of what true humanity is and how it exists within an artificial world. The opening montage of flames and smoke rising from the towers of industry, a monolithic structure in the background, and an eye, which is central to BR, where this mis-en-scene and Vangelis music depicts this era of sacrificing humanity for industry. This opening responds to the fear of the growth of technology within the 1980’s, where technology has gown past the point of humanity with the creation of the ‘replicans’.
Similarly, in Mary Shelly’s FS, dark and foreboding moods are set over Frankenstein for his pursuit of science and technology. Shelly enlightens the reader on the abuse of technology and the effects on society in a time where Galvanism and Darwinism is in the rise of the technological discoveries that occurred in the nineteenth century. Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein compares with BR in the dangerous pursuit of knowledge and technology. With Frankenstein, his ambitious nature, takes Frankenstein through the pursuit of knowledge and technology, that results in the creation of the monster.
Through his technological pursuits, Frankenstein fails to acknowledge the dangers of acquiring immense knowledge, and only realise it after he created the monster ‘how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge’. Frankenstein’s pursuit of knowledge has caused Frankenstein to fail in the consequences of the project that he undertook, and it was only at the point when the monster is animated that Frankenstein is horrified with his creation, ‘How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe’. The character Deckard is represented as oblivious to the ethical morality of the dehumanising effects of technology on society.
The society which Blade Runner resides in, is segregated between the ones who have power and the rest of society, as Bryant point out to Deckard ‘If your not a cop, your little people’. The use of technology gave birth to the replicans, which are ‘like any other machines, they are either a benefit or a hazard’. These qualities of subjecting the replicans as less than human is the result of the replicans being born out of technology and therefore seen more as tools rather than living beings.
More evidence of these replicans being subjected to being tools is after Deckard discovers that Rachael is a replican, immediately dehumanises Rachel after calling her it, ‘how can it not know what it is’. But Deckard’s own identity is placed in questioning, as his dream of the unicorn, makes the responder speculate whether Deckard is a replican or not, as the power of technology can dictates the nature of his humanity. Tyrell, being the creator of the replicans, ironically has least humanity in BR, despite born as a human.
His pursuit for creating beings ‘more human than human’ renders Tyrell to be incapable to empathise with the replicans, and their struggle. His disregard of the replicans as simply objects in commerce causes him to fail to perceive the consequences of becoming the ‘God of Biomechanics’. Even though he is a god among the replicans, Tyrell expresses no desire for extending the lives of Batty and his group of replicans, claiming that ‘the light that burns twice as bright, burn half as long’.
Juxtaposed with Batty, Batty is in the pursuit for more life show his humanity greater than Tyrell’s, since Tyrell renders the replicans as expendable. His lack of empathy to the replicans is evidence of his refusal to lengthen the lives of Batty and his group, which eventually lead to his death. Similar to Tyrell, Frankenstein ambition to create life is sparked by his observation of the lightning destroying the tree. Compelling him to undergo the secrets of nature, Frankenstein sacrificed his love for nature and beauty to harness the power of nature.
His ambition, however, stops Frankenstein from perceiving the coming consequences of his action, and it is only too late when he understood the grave dangers of his actions. Even though he created the monster, and gave no empathy to his creation. His lack of empathy to his creation caused him to abandon the monster, showing his lack of responsibility that is needed to nurture the monster However, Frankenstein is juxtaposed to Tyrell, as Frankenstein retreats back to nature and beauty after he has subjected himself to toil under the pursuit of knowledge.
Even though Frankenstein relearned to embraced the beauties of nature, ‘happy, nominate nature had the power of bestowing on me the most delightful sensations’, his newfound love of nature cannot compensate for his disgust at the appearance of the monster. Frankenstein’s description of the monster dehumanises the monster more as the text continues. In contrast, the monster has more human qualities than Frankenstein. While Frankenstein focused on the outer appearance of the monster, he failed to emphasize the monster’s experience and his reason behind his actions.
The monster’s story gives Frankenstein and the reader a back story into the reasoning behind to his actions, ‘no father had watched my infant days, no mother blessed me with smiles and caresses’. The monster’s anguish of the reason for his existence, ‘Miserable, unhappy wretch! ’ which led to his hatred to his creator and humanity, convinces the reader of his actions on why now hates Frankenstein and the humans that shunned him out of fear. The monster that is Frankenstein’s creation, draw out the lack of humanity to understand the content of the monster’s character.
Frankenstein’s realisation that too much knowledge is dangerous is understood by the reader, just before he creates the female for the monster. Just when Frankenstein was won over by the monster and agreed to create a female for the monster, Frankenstein destroys the half finished creation, despite understanding the monster’s want for a companion, ‘never will I create another like yourself, equal in deformity and wickedness’. As he destroyed the monster’s only source of peace and companionship, he in turn makes himself as more of the monster, blocking one’s source to be happiness.
But because Frankenstein destroys the female out of the realisation of any consequences that can occur, Frankenstein regains his sense of conscience, ‘my own benefit, to inflict this curse upon everlasting generations? ’ that the pursuit of too much knowledge is dangerous in the perversion of nature. Although the pursuit of knowledge and technology is to advance civilisation, the fear of losing our humanity is present in when knowledge and technology exceed the humanity that exists. Texts such as BR and Frankenstein, serve as a warning to us as the context that the texts are composed responds to the dangers of knowledge and technology.