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The Spawn of Frankenstein: Fear of the Unknown

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. 

The Spawn of Frankenstein: Unintended Consequences

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.

The Spawn of Frankenstein: It’s Alive

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.

The Spawn of Frankenstein: Playing God

In Shelley’s vision, Frankenstein was the mod­ern Prometheus. The hip, up to date, learned, vital god who chose to cre­ate human life and paid the dire con­se­quences. To Shelley, gods cre­ate and for humans to do that is bad. Bad for oth­ers but espe­cial­ly bad for one’s creator. 

Seeing Eternity in a Daffodil: Making Robots, Making Life

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.

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