What if we’d the technology to bring the bird or the mammoth back? Or edit diseases to be eliminated by DNA? When we could, should we? In the Frankenstein Myth and Technology, a summer session course pupils that may aim to test limits, in the engineering school are challenged to take accountability for the impact of their designs. Technology as well as the Frankenstein Fantasy – INSTRUCTOR: Ben Laugelli – STRUCTURE: Nine students meet for fifteen minutes and 2 hours each morning. The course fulfills a requirement of the Science, Technology and Society program. ON THE SYLLABUS: Together with Mary Shelleys Frankenstein, the course is organised around two articles The Cultural Domestication of New Technology by Frankenstein and Martijntje Smits as well as the Debate Over Embryo Research by Michael Mulkay.
Readings include the myth of Prometheus as well as excerpts from Robot Visions, Paradise Lost and the Bible. Grades are based on the proposition and implementation of reading quizzes, a science fiction story pitch, a demonstration, a research paper and class participation. TAKEAWAYS: > Take responsibility for what you create. > Collaborate with others in the process, whether other creators or the intended users. > Recognize that science fiction isnt just entertainment. The course syllabus includes discussing movies like Avengers and Jurassic Park: Age. Science fiction has a role, Laugelli says, since it can help fill the gap in thinking between possibility and reality shaping the perspective of technologies, for good or bad.
For instance, scientists hoping to bring back the dodo could say the result would look nothing like the carnage of Jurassic Park. The real life technology, however, will be prominently associated with the film storyline, which could negatively sway public perception as well as therefore impede financing or approval. Consequently, Laugelli says, engineers should educate their audiencewhether the government or private investorsabout the realities of their layouts. If we cannot express the value of it as well as help others see that, its not going to go anywhere. To balance the negative portrayals, the course also reads Isaac Asimovs Robot Visions, which positively portrays robots. Unlike most engineering courses, the main task is a research paper, that will prepare pupils such as the intensive written portfolio in their 4th year.