As the decades go by, it has become clear that technology has no end in sight. Researchers and inventors come up with cool new gadgets every day that push the limits of what we understand about electronics and well, science in general. It’s incredible and mind-blowing what people are capable of creating, and there seems to be no signs of slowing down. Which leads me to think – will there ever be a point where new technology cannot be created anymore? Is there a point at which we’ve accomplished everything we could possible do? In short terms – no, I don’t believe there actually is an end to what we can accomplish. Sure, it may take ages upon ages to create something that is truly new and fascinating, but there are thousands, if not millions, of extremely talented and intelligent people in the world who are willing and actually dedicate their lives to coming up with ideas for new technology. We certainly would not be where we are today without these sorts of people, which leads me to a related but less complex subject – inventors and scientists themselves. In the film we watched in class this week, Edward Scissorhands, there was an inventor. He created Edward from an image he had in his mind, and it was heartbreaking to see him not be able to finsih his work. However, this is not quite the type of inventor I’ll be talking about for the rest of this post.
Personally, my favorite scientist to ever have lived is Nikola Tesla. As the creator and main advocate for alternating current (AC) electricity, Tesla has been a huge influence on our society as it is now. He constantly locked horns with other people when it came to his inventions – especially Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. Edison and Tesla had vastly different styles of going about their work. Where Edison was all about meticulous and often tedious experiments in hope of discovering something new, Tesla relied on his education regarding engineering to formulate wild theories before even beginning to conceptualize how to test them. The two worked together for several years before their differences finally got the better of them and they parted ways, coming together not long after in the War of the Currents. Tesla is often credited as being less intelligent than Edison, due to the fact that he had roughly 300 patents to Edison’s 1000, but in my eyes, Tesla’s inventions have proved to be far more complicated and useful than Edison’s.
Technology has been a major piece of human society ever since the boom of the Industrial Revolution, especially so beginning in the early 20th century. It quickly grabbed the attention of most people, as it made life easier and made work more convenient – in some cases, at least. Since then, technology has become a topic of a huge sum of pop culture works, including but not limited to 1984, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and The Truman Show.
Of course, two of the three examples I choose highlight technology is a more negative way, whereas the other is more ambiguous. There are plenty of instances in which technology has proven to be an asset in making life easier and helped people in difficult situations. For example, the First Robotics Competition (FRC) was a program started to help students in high school become more knowledgable of technology and how it can be used to create a better future for everyone. It helps teach important problem solving, leadership and teamwork skills during the Build Season and at competitions. Every year, the teams are given a different set of objectives they have to choose from. Given the rules and requirements from FRC, the team has to build a robot that fits those expectations and limitations to meet any or all of the objectives they were informed about. It’s a great learning experience and it’s pretty cool.
With technology advancing the way it has over the past several decades, some people have started to grow more and more paranoid regarding such technology. Movies definitely have played a part in this growing fear of technology – specifically speaking, robots and artificial intelligence. The biggest, most well-known film depicting a world where humans and robots/AI went wrong, would be The Terminator. This movie has been referenced and alluded to in so many other aspects of pop culture since its debut in 1984, and has struck fear into people across the world, as I had stated earlier.
Newspapers mention the advances in the fields dealing with artificial intelligence all the time. Even great minds such as Stephen Hawking have expressed that we need to tread carefully when developing new technology or else the apocalyptic world shown in The Terminator may becoming the harsh reality of our planet. In fact, when reading the article from The Guardian linked above, this image was on that was shown in the ‘advertisements’ section.
Now, is this something to get worked up over? Nah, it’s most likely just the result of Google tracking what I’ve searched and what pages I’ve looked at while writing this post and them scrambling to throw some nice Clickbait material fresh off the presses at me, but it was also probably done by some sort of artificial intelligence program. Suspicious, to say the least. I, for one, am one of the many people who fear a robotic takeover of the world, but I also find robots and AI fascinating.
In my opinion, robots are rootin’ tootin’ radtastical. Although technically not a robot, one of the most well-known and recognizable names in pop culture revolving around the concept of robots is HAL 9000 from the film adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey, released in 1968 and produced/directed by Stanley Kubrick. This film was written based off of the concept for the book given the same title by Arthur C. Clarke, which was published in the same year the film was released. Many people find this movie hard to watch due to the length of the film, the slow and slightly difficult to understand story-based plot (or rather, lack of action), and it feeling like a silent film due to most of the scenes being accompanied by white noise or soft orchestral music rather than conversation between characters – similar to “Modern Times”, which we recently watched in my Film Studies class.
HAL 9000 is easily one of my favorite fictional characters, despite his limited screentime and dialogue in the film. His character is a great counterpart to that of David Bowman and Frank Poole, the only two members on Discovery 1 that were not in hibernation and had to deal with HAL 9000 directly for the entirety of the trip to Jupiter (in the film, in the book they were on their way to Saturn and were going to use Jupiter’s gravity to accelerate the spacecraft in the final stretch towards Saturn), as well as on the journey back to Earth. After Poole’s death at the metaphorical hands of HAL 9000, as well as the death of the hibernating crew members, Bowman is left to handle HAL and his unexpected malfunction. This is arguably the most famous scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and has been referenced and parodied throughout history ever since.