It’s not the strangeness of new technologies that frightens us but the way technology threatens to make us strangers to ourselves. In a semi-Freudian spirit, then, I’d like to propose that where Frankenstein and its spawn are concerned, our fear of the unknown may really be about our discomfort with knowing.
Victor’s sin wasn’t in being too ambitious, not necessarily in playing God. It was in failing to care for the being he created, failing to take responsibility and to provide the creature what it needed to thrive, to reach its potential, to be a positive development for society instead of a disaster.
Mary Shelley’s novel has been an incredibly successful modern myth. And so this conversation today is not just about what happened 200 years ago, but the remarkable ways in which that moment and that set of ideas has continued to percolate and evolve and reform in culture, in technological research, in ethics, since then.
In this talk I want to suggest that it’s never quite as simple as to say there is technology and there is art. That there is technology and there is culture. Clearly these things have always been in dialogue and are still. So this means this is a story about art and technology.