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Technology is the application of knowledge to develop the tools our society requires to run. It is a combination of science, engineering, art, economics, and social studies that is brought together with creativity and ingenuity to improve the quality of human life. Technology is about making it faster, better, easier, more economical, or more efficient. It is about making the world a better place to live. However, what if we lived in a world where technology was used for crime, death, or destruction? This world exists today. Humanity’s ever increasing dependence on technology will ultimately lead to its demise. It has changed and enhanced the way of life for many, but without it, we would not be able to survive through today’s world.


In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein pursues science and technology not for wealth or happiness, but to satisfy his obsession with it. He became so obsessed with creating life, that it clouded his judgment, and took up all of his time and energy. He depends on technology to lead him to success. However, Frankensteins overconfidence in his abilities causes technology to turn against him. By assuming the role of God, Frankenstein chooses to give life to a monster that is a mirror image of his selfish self and consequently slaughters his family and friends. Dr. Frankenstein’s dilemma is that he does not apply his technology to society. He is so driven towards his goal that he never considers the consequences of his actions and creates a monster without a purpose. Similar is Nathaniel Hawthorn’s “The Birthmark,” in which the main character, Aylmer, is obsessed with science and initially putting his technology to use for the good of civilization. We see that Aylmer pursues the removal of his wifes birthmark with almost identical benevolent intentions, arguing that the removal of what he describes as the visible mark of earthly imperfection (158) will restore the perfect physical beauty of his wife. Akin to Frankenstein, Aylmer was so confident in his technology that he felt he could draw a magic circle round her, within which no evil might intrude. (16)


In Dr. Strangelove, Kubrick must also be making a comment on communication technologies, as the natural difficulty of the communication process is being demonstrated in almost every scene. Much of the dialog takes place over the telephone or radio and the major conflicts center around the miscommunication of both. In chronological order, Rippers initial request to have Mandrake issue the go code to the bomb wing takes place over the phone. Then, Ripper orders the entire base to impound all radios, as they might be used to issue information to the enemy. The attack plan is then radioed to the planes, which are already holding at their fail safe points. These orders are transmitted over a special radio which requires a three letter combination for the planes to receive the message. General Ripper is the only one who knows the code, thus he is the only one who can recall the bombers from attacking Russia, not even the President. Even after the recall code is transmitted, things get worse. All but one of the bombers responds to the recall code and return to base. However, the radio in the B-5 had been damaged by a missile and did not receive the recall code. Unaware of the doomsday device or the recall transmission, the pilot continues steadfast toward the target and subsequent destruction of the world. (Sheridan)


Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove and 001 A Space Odyssey share a common theme Man designs machinery that functions with perfect logic to bring about a devastating outcome. The U.S. nuclear deterrent and the Russian doomsday machine functions exactly as intended, and ultimately destroys life on earth. The HAL 000 computer, programmed to guide and serve, kills the astronauts onboard. The disaster on the space ship of 001 could be any technological disaster in which Mans own creation becomes powerful enough to destroy him and escapes his control. The message in these Kubrick films is simple the dehumanization of human beings by the modern, automated world is escalating.


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The biggest problem with technology, which can eventually lead to the downfall of humanity, is people. It seems that our technology has surpassed our ethical capacity. Since technology can give an individual a massive amount of power, and the ability to inflict catastrophic amounts of damage, the consequences for people’s actions are greater. In Shelley’s Frankenstein, Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark,” and Kubrick’s 001 A Space Odyssey and Dr. Strangelove, we meet with scientists, astronauts, and military personnel who are negatively affected by the technologies they have created. In each of these stories a different type of technology is revealed bio technology, chemical technology, computer technology, and weapons technology. Today our technology seems to have outstripped our means to control it in so many areas that one could just as easily imagine a genetic, medical, environmental, or technological apocalypse.


Works Cited


001 A Space Odyssey. Dir. Stanely Kubrick. Perf. Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood. Turner Entertainment Co., 168.


Dr. Strangelove. Dir. Stanley Kubrick. Perf. Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, and Keenan Wynn. Columbia Pictures, 164.


Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The Birthmark” 184. The Example of Science. rd ed. Lynch R. and Swanzey T., ed. Boston Pearson Custom Publishing, 000.


Shelly, Mary. “Frankenstein” 1817. The Example of Science. rd ed. Lynch R. and Swanzey T., ed. Boston Pearson Custom Publishing, 000.


Sheridan, Chris. “All’s Fair in War and Sex” 15. http//www.youknow.com/chris/film/strangelove.html


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