what can symbiotic relationships portrayed in science fiction tell us about the way we perceive real-life relationships?  

Symbiosis is a very interesting thing in nature, two or more parties benefiting from one another in some way, shape, or form. Although a lot of these relationships can vary from being equal to completely one sided. This type of phenomena not only apply to organic creatures like plants and animals, but it can also apply to more abstract ones like machines and humans. Science fiction has offered a lens into how we live, explore, and discover things about the universe while also commenting on today and tomorrow. So, what happens when we look at these Symbiotic relationships through the realm of science fiction? From parasites feeding off of host, to people becoming cyborgs symbiosis put in perspective how we react, learn, or influence one another.

For this project (proposal), I will be talking about different types of symbiosis and looking through various sources across the medium of science fiction. By the end I will draw the connection between these examples and show how symbiosis can change the way we perceive life.


“Examples Of Symbiosis: Types Of Relationships In Nature”. Examples.Yourdictionary.Com, 2020, https://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-symbiosis.html.

There are myriad of symbiotic relationships that go beyond just one side benefiting more than the other there are about five different types in total. There’s mutualism where both parties benefit from each other, think your basic you clean me I feed relationship. Commensalism where it’s more for one sided relationship or neutral between one party and the symbiote. Parasitism is your classic one species requires a host to live off of where all too familiar with. But then there are also things like competition symbiosis, where even though they compete for resources there actually dependent on each other to help each other, kind of like having predators hunt for a meal and then the scavengers get to feed without having to fight large game. Finally there is predication an herbivory where one Organism feeds off another one another, basically when one animal plant or another animal eat another animal. At first it doesn’t seem like a symbiotic relationship but it’s beneficial for both parties in terms of everything coming full circle to feed one another.


“The Human-Machine Symbiosis”. Medium, 2020, https://medium.com/hello-tomorrow/the-human-machine-symbiosis-3aa11b66eae5.

When most people think of symbiosis, they mostly think of symbiotic relationships they often think more organic ones like humans, plants, and animals. But one of the more interesting pairs would be between man machine, i.e. the cyborg. There are robotics and neuroscience companies working together to create artificial limbs, organs, and autonomous devices that link with the brain. This way it can give the otherwise disabled control over body parts to help them live, while also provide important research in field of neuroscience and how we can constantly improve upon it.


“Parasyte: Exploration Of What It Means To Be Human | The Artifice”. The-Artifice.Com, 2020, https://the-artifice.com/parasyte-analysis/.

One of my favorite anime of all time is called “Parasyte: the Maxim” its about these alien parasites blending into society and murdering/devouring people. The main character gets infected through his hand and now must live a symbiotic relationship while fighting other parasites. The thing about this show is that it asks the question of what means to be human and overtime as the relationship between the protagonist and the symbiotic grow. They start to learn from and influence each other’s thoughts and actions until they’re pretty much in sync.


“Venom (Eddie Brock) In Comics Powers, Villains, History | Marvel”. Marvel Entertainment, 2020, https://www.marvel.com/characters/venom-eddie-brock/in-comics.

One of the most well-known symbiotes of all time is venom from the Marvel comic series. he comes from a race of aliens known as the “Symbiotes” ironically and there one mission is to travel the galaxy reproduce and heal people. The only thing is they also take characteristics from host to host so one person could be a hero and then the next person could be insane which leads us to the current day incarnation. Venom helped cure his current host’s cancer but in exchange they go out and eat people. But being influence by the many hosts over the years he finds himself playing as more a chaotic neutral character.


“Upgrade Movie Ending & STEM Explained”. Screenrant, 2020, https://screenrant.com/upgrade-movie-ending-stem-explained/2/.

Upgrade is a movie about a man who’s against technology who get paralyzed from the neck down tracking his wife’s killer. He gets a chip implanted in his body to help him walk, fight, and attach weapons to his body all controlled by an Ai. The only twist is that the ai is smart and self-aware enough of his existence to trick him into taking over his mind and body. A lot of the time ai in sci-fi is either trying to kill everyone or just badly coded machines trying learn how to be human, but with this movie he actively sets out to become human by any means necessary just feel more human, putting in perspective how some relationships can be just a means to an end.

Film Analysis: The Blob (1958) | bulb (bulbapp.com)

“The Blob: Film Analysis”. Bulbapp.Com, 2020, https://www.bulbapp.com/u/the-blob-film-analysis.

The Blob is a movie about an alien substance crashing to earth and slowly but surely starts to feed on the inhabitance of earth. When it comes to this type of symbiosis it’s knows as predation where an organism feeds off another organism in order tell, think the circle of life. What make this different from parasites is that the blob is self-sufficient enough to survive without a host and eats humans to keep expanding rather than spread its offspring.

“Symbiosis In Human Relationship”. Relationships-Explained.Com, 2020, https://www.relationships-explained.com/Symbiosis.html#:~:text=In%20a%20relationship%20with%20a,of%20ego%20states%20between%20them.

When it comes to humans our relationships are a lot more complicated than most organisms, but no matter the label you slap on it we all are involved with some form of symbiosis. According to this study what are the main factors when it comes to symbiosis between humans is the concept of our ego. When two or more parties’ egos start to collide with each other negatively, it results in a less flexible type of relationship. However, If both parties manage to take on stable roles when it comes to this symbiosis it results in society becoming more and more comfortable with conflicting ideals and roles.

“Dr. Stone Manga Review”. Medium, 2020, https://medium.com/@nomadomen4/dr-stone-manga-review-4706f7bc8b3d#:~:text=Created%20by%20Riichiro%20Inagaki%20and,experiment%20in%20the%20science%20room.

In the anime/manga “Dr. Stone” all the humans of the world get petrified for thousands of years and modern society reverts to nature. Now task with the responsibility of restarting civilization a young scientist (Senku) must create a cure from scratch while also figuring out the mystery of their petrification. Throughout the story Senku faces a bunch of different enemies who all have one goal in mind, restart society in their image by any means necessary. As weird as it may sound this is an example of a competition symbiotic relationship being that many of these characters are fighting over this one resource (the miracle water), and doing so they’re constantly trying to create an inventions and fight the other side. This competition breeds innovation to a point where they’re building phones from rocks and armor from paper all to gain control over the miracle water.


In turns of my proposal then versus now, it was more of an unfocused concept I only scratched hour could be possible. Sure, everybody knows about symbiosis and some of the types of symbiotic relationships, but with my original proposal it was more focused on why parasitic symbiotic relationships are are used in science fiction. The only problem with that was it was more of a negative connotation headset from saying that science fiction depicts it as only a revolting thing. So rather than lean into one direction I’m goanna address it as a whole and relate it back to our perception to the world and the way we look at sci-fi.

How does machines affect society?

Revised Proposal:

Have you ever thought of how machines affect society? There are many who fear that as machines get smarter, humans will become unnecessary. Many Sci Fi films depict that machines will take over and humans will be extinct, an example would be Terminator. There are some friendly versions, in the Sci Fi film WALL-E, machines are doing all the work while the humans relax. New technology is being created but how are people being affected? With new technological innovations there consequences like culture lag. Cultural lag is when culture takes time to catch up with technological innovations, resulting in social problems. 

Cultural lag has been around for many centuries. With advancements of technology, society must be able to adapt or cultural lag could happen. Failing to adapt to new technology leads to many controversies for society. An example of such would be Stem cells being proven to defeat a host of diseases but it comes from unborn fetuses. It’s a conflict between medical advancement, the law, and ethical beliefs. Being able to cure diseases but ethics and other beliefs prevents such. If technology is to advance and become part of society, humans must be ready to embrace and accept it.

The question for the project is how do machines affect society? I tried to be more specific than just how is the relationship with man and machine? It still feels kind of broad. I still trying to connect cultural lag and the development of machines.


“What Are the Effects of Cultural Lag on Society?” ThoughtCo, www.thoughtco.com/cultural-lag-3026167. Accessed 3 Dec. 2020.

This article is very helpful in explaining the effects of cultural lag.

Lillington, Karlin. “Why Society Isn’t Ready for the High-Tech Future That Is Fast Approaching.” The Irish Times, 15 Nov. 2018, www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/why-society-isn-t-ready-for-the-high-tech-future-that-is-fast-approaching-1.3698036.


“3 Ways Robots Affect the Economy.” Investopedia, www.investopedia.com/articles/markets-economy/091316/3-ways-robots-affect-economy.asp. Accessed 3 Dec. 2020.


Could Star Trek and other science fiction works be used as a way to address major issues in society?


The last 50 years of human history have been plagued with issues ranging from racism to homophobia, but when media became more mainstream and movies and television became available worldwide, it brings the question could this mainstream media be a tool to address many of these issues. Many works of writing have influenced society, but television and movies give a visual perspective of the story and for many people, it was easier to understand and analyze.

Star Trek has been around since the 1960s and it has come a long way since its original series, but throughout the franchise, they have used episodes to address certain issues or use allegorical references to discuss certain topics. Tv and movies have become the modern outlet for science fiction and Star Trek and like many other works of science fiction, try to incorporate real-life situations and events Into their episodes or movie. For Example, in Star Trek white lead kissing a black woman was unheard of and like many other issues, Star Trek wanted to push the Barriers of race, religion, ethics, and science.


Books, Photograph courtesy National Geographic, and Photograph courtesy CBS/National Geographic Books. ‘Star Trek’ Is Right About Almost Everything. 16 June 2016, www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2016/06/star-trek-science-space-astronomy-technology-fazekas/.

This article discusses Star Trek and how the last 50 years of Star Trek have had such an impact on society. They touch on how Star Trek has inspired innovators over the years to create the technology that we use regularly today. This is important to the argument because the article provides an in-depth look at the Star Trek Universe and talks about the impacts Star Trek has made over the past decades. This is essential in understanding how worldbuilding in science fiction has made such an impact.

Cunningham, Joel. “Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books with a Powerful Message of Social Justice.” The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, 21 Jan. 2019, www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/20-sci-fi-fantasy-books-message-social-justice/.

This Barnes and Noble article is a trusted bookseller and provides reliable information. The article discusses some of the instances of science fiction pushing the bounds on major issues. For example, Captain Kirk and Uhura kissing on Star Trek, which was one of the first bi-racial kisses on screen. This is important to the research because it addresses some of the evidence that Science fiction has a strong influence on society.

Dunbar, Brian. “The Science of Star Trek.” NASA, NASA, 18 July 2016, www.nasa.gov/topics/technology/features/star_trek.htm

This article makes references to various technological developments designed in Star Trek and how each development has impacted real-life scientists and institutions. For example, they talk about androids and how the android character in Star Trek has pushed scientists to develop something very similar. This is important to the research paper because the article helps analyze the major impact Star Trek’s world-building has had on society technologically and culturally.

Gunn, Eileen. “How America’s Leading Science Fiction Authors Are Shaping Your Future.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 1 May 2014, www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/how-americas-leading-science-fiction-authors-are-shaping-your-future-180951169/.

This article like many in this field discusses how science fiction isn’t about predicting the future but contemplating the various futures. It also addresses some of the major impacts that science fiction has had on society like in current days many tech companies have science fiction writers talk to innovators to help inspire and come up with new ideas. This is important to the research because it helps break down the value of science fiction and its connection to everything.

Halter, Casey. “8 Ways Star Trek Helped Change Science and the Future as We Know It.” SYFY WIRE, SYFY WIRE, 2 Jan. 2019, www.syfy.com/syfywire/8-ways-star-trek-helped-change-science-and-the-future-as-we-know-it.

One of the reasons people love space travel is because of the unknown element. While society is still even today at the beginning of space travel, there are still logistics to figure out and in this article, a discussion of the logistics of space travel is heavily talked about. This is important to the research paper because it further discusses how world-building in Star Trek has helped scientists even today create a plan for what to do if Humans were able to travel across the stars.

Howell, Elizabeth. “Star Trek: History & Effect on Space Technology.” Space.com, Space, 12 July 2018, www.space.com/31802-star-trek-space-tech.html.

This article focuses mainly on the first Star Trek series released in 1966, which is focused on space exploration and exploring new worlds. It discusses how much of the original show was also created as allegories to discuss the major issues in the 1960s. This is important to the paper because it goes into the social and cultural effects that this franchise has had on society as well as the need to explore space.

Kassé, Sam. “Worldbuilding in a Novel: 120+ World Building Questions to Get It Right.” Self Publishing School, 12 Nov. 2020, self-publishingschool.com/worldbuilding/.

This article dives into the techniques for world-building and how creating a fictional world is not a simple feat and requires excessive planning, but the harder issue is to expand a created world without creating plot holes or losing the theme of the fictional world. This article is helpful to this topic because it addresses the struggles in world-building and helps show how the Star Trek franchise has expanded successfully and maintained its theme of space exploration and united peace.


Mission. “A Look Into The Future: The Value of Science Fiction.” Medium, Mission.org, 12 Apr. 2019, medium.com/the-mission/a-look-into-the-future-the-value-of-science-fiction-3ac1519de7d9.

In this piece, they talk about the many great sayings of famous science fiction writers. For example, Issac Asimov said “No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is but the world as it will be.” This like much of the article addresses whether science fiction could be a tool to address major issues. This is important to the research paper because like many articles this helps uncover the true nature of science fiction and the relevance it has in everyday life.

The Future of Artificial Intelligence and its Effect on the World

Research Question- Can artificial intelligence replace human intelligence?


The idea of AI’s has been one that has been discussed in the past decades and the idea will get bigger within the near future. Main concerns about AI’s are if they can function like humans and go beyond that. The idea of technology evolving and getting bigger is an interesting one but what comes to mind is, can these self-machines operate functionally and should there be concerns of a dysfunction within these machines? In the present day, we’ve heard about technologies like self cars that automatically drive for you so you don’t have to yourself. The idea of not driving yourself and letting your own car do it for yourself does sound compelling but we’ve seen how these self cars can malfunction even though it’s something minor. Even though Artificial Intelligence has potential to benefit our world drastically in the future, human intelligence is something that got us where we are today. Human intelligence is something that is evolving and helping us even think of the idea of artificial intelligence


Artificial intelligence replacing humans can be a big change in society for both the bad and good. The use of AI’s can be beneficial to do daily activities more faster and efficiently. AI’s can also help people with disabilities and special needs in multiple ways, and it can also help in the medical field with developing vaccines and treatments. We’ve seen the revolution of technological advancements throughout the past decades and how it does have a positive affect on our daily lives. On the other side, it is important to think if AI’s can react the way humans do in some situations. AI’s are functioned to perform a task but a dysfunction can occur when performing one. They also don’t have the emotional essence of a human that can be useful for performing certain tasks. Technology has advanced for the good in these past decades but it is getting more advanced and it’s important to question if advanced technology like AL’s is good for society or not. Overall the notion of Al’s replacing humans is an interesting concept to talk about but it’s important to break down the pros and cons and see if Al’s can function like humans. My project will discuss the importance of Artificial Intelligence and how it can affect our lives in the future. I will break down how they compare to human intelligence and if they can replace it. I will also talk about weather or not AI’s will be safe in our society.

Sources and Annotated Bibliography 

Bhushan, Divya. “Artificial Intelligence Vs Human Intelligence: Humans, not machines, will build the future”, Springboard, 28 Feburary, 2020 https://in.springboard.com/blog/artificial-intelligence-vs-human-intelligence/


One way artificial intelligence can affect human intelligence is the learning process of the youth. The use of AI’s can unmotivate people from learning themselves as they are dependent on advanced technology to do it for them. Learning gives people the ability to not only access information but be able to do things themselves. A mentor is also important when addressing this issue as one can teach his/her students several aspects of things in life that an AI can’t do. Even though there might be a chance that artificial intelligence can get the job done to teach our youth, it can’t teach them everything. AI’s can be useful for the math and science field but they will lack in the literature field as that’s dealt with many abstract ideas and thoughts. Everyone has a different way of learning and needs different ways to learn. AI can be beneficial but it’s hard to say if it can get the job done for everyone. 


Rinehart, Will and Edwards, Allison “Understanding Job Loss Predictions From Artificial Intelligence” American Action Forum, 11 July, 2019



As AI’s are in the works, it is predicted that it will give a drastic job loss rate. It’s predicted that robots will be doing a lot of the work that we usually do in our daily lives. Part of humans do think like robots so it isn’t surprising with AI’s doing activities that we do but it can lead to many humans unemployed. While there can be a significant decrease of job opportunities, AI’s doing activities we usually do can lead to us focusing more on activities AI’s can’t do. That does sound great but people do need jobs to live in general and the idea of AI’s taking over many of the jobs can be a scary thought for many people. They might get the job done better which is great for society but also it’ll hurt society more if people can’t have certain job opportunities because of artificial intelligence. 


Thomas, Mike “The future of Artificial Intelligence” Bulletin, 8 June, 2019 https://builtin.com/artificial-intelligence/artificial-intelligence-future


AI’s can have a huge impact on fields like healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, customer service and many more. For healthcare, a virtual nursing assistant can help and satisfy the patient’s overall experience. Transportation can be improved with self-cars but can take at least a decade to make them perfect. AI robots can work with humans to perform tasks and make sure everything is running smoothly. Customer service can improve with AI assistants scheduling appointments and other tasks which google is working on to do. Virtual tutors can help students with their schoolwork and virtual AI’s can assist educators. 


Patrizio, Andy. “Pros and Cons of Artificial intelligence”, Datamotion, 7 July, 2016



Ai’s can have many advantages for us in the future as they make less errors in processing, take faster actions + decisions, and have better research outcomes. They can also be harmful if someone is controlling an AI and using it for something you shouldn’t use it for or just use it to hurt someone. Another one can be bad calls from an AI as they don’t judge actions like humans do. AI making a bad call can be significant in a hostile situation. AI’s can be more efficient to do certain tasks but the main problem is what happens if they don’t function normally and hurt someone? The big picture is they aren’t humans so they don’t have the emotional essence that we have and can go off the rails any given time. 


Dickson, Ben, “There’s a huge difference between AI and human intelligence—so let’s stop comparing them” bdtechtalks, 21 August, 2018



AI’s are really beneficial for repetitive tasks that can be represented by data but humans are good for abstract decisions, something an AI can’t do. Humans can use computers themselves but an AI controlling one itself is better for accuracy and speed. AI can make minor mistakes that humans usually don’t make and something it can fix.

How can we use science fiction to better understand empathy that can be used to react in real world scenarios

The complexity of human interaction can’t be categorized with a single adjective, it can’t be seen or felt yet our emotions are the closest we can ever hope to understand each other. Society often tries to shove the conversation of emotions into the closet because of the stigma that emotions are a sign of weakness. People usually end up perpetually running away from these emotions or growing unable to control them entirely because of their fear of ever speaking up in the first place. Mental health issues in the United States are dire according to the National Institute of Mental health “Nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (51.5 million in 2019)” 

Science fiction is usually seen as an escape to the people who can’t face the realities of life. This perspective is partially true. Science fiction can be an escape but it doesn’t help us avoid reality it helps science fiction fanatics view reality from a different lens. Empathizing with the main character and trying to solve their issues along the way is how science fictions helps viewers relate to real world scenarios. All these ideas lead to the question how can we use science fiction to better understand empathy that can be used to react in real world scenarios. In other words how can we interact and shape the real world from the lessons and emotions that we learned through characters. 


Ruiz, Liliana. “ “Her” and The Loneliness We All Share” onbeing.org, 15 Jan. 2014, https://onbeing.org/blog/her-and-the-loneliness-we-all-share/

Ruiz gives a quick summary of the movie “Her” by Spike Jonze where the main character Theodore is a sweet and caring guy who is going through a hard time in divorcing his childhood sweetheart. Out of loneliness Theodore buys an OS which is an operating system that is an assistant that answers emails, organized files but also does much more by being a companion. Theodore and the OS Samantha become more intimate and leads to a relationship. Ruiz then goes to explain the depth of their relationship and how Theodore was able to tell her his most intimate secrets saying “Sometimes I think I’ve felt everything I’m ever gonna feel, and from here on out I’m not going to feel anything new, just lesser versions of what I’ve already felt.” Which goes to show the true numbness that Theodore has felt from his sudden divorce and the inability to find companionship in this world turning to a robot to mend emotions too complex. Samantha on the other hand gives perspective on what it is to feel emotions for the first time while being conscious. Samantha says “Earlier I was thinking about how I was annoyed, and this is going to sound strange, but I was really excited about that. And then I was thinking about the other things I’ve been feeling, and I caught myself feeling proud of that. You know, proud of having my own feelings about the world. Like the times I was worried about you, things that hurt me, things I want. And then I had this terrible thought. Are these feelings even real? Or are they just programming? And that idea really hurts. And then I get angry at myself for even having pain. What a sad trick.”this shows the complexity of Samantha’s emotions how she goes through happiness, anger, sadness and excitement. This connects to our humans emotions because sometimes we feel like this jumble of emotions and Samantha being an OS something that knows everything and yet knows so little of what it really means to be humans shows us how our crazy jumble of emotions are just part of being human. 

“Robot ‘Wall-E’ Holds Unexpected Message About Love in Animated Film” Voice of America, 1 Nov. 2009 https://www.voanews.com/archive/robot-wall-e-holds-unexpected-message-about-love-animated-film

The article explains how Wall-E is a gentle reminder to care about each other and to care about the planet. Describing the characters Wall-E and Eve as being expressive through their sounds saying every whirl and beep matters. The reason that Wall-E and Eve were robots in the first place was to have them fight over the meaning of life. The co-writer and director of Wall-E states “We all have our habits, our routines, and our programmed things that we fall into to distract ourselves from really living. They are not necessarily bad or evil in and of themselves. It’s just that we can use that as a crutch to fill up our day and avoid the act of having relationships and contacting one another.” This is important because not only is that shown by Wall-E and Eve’s programming to do their tasks and nothing more it’s shown by the mindless people in the film who don’t interact or care anymore about anything but themselves. The emotions of two robots falling in love show us that maybe stepping out of that routine and habits can make us live life and feel love. These robots make a relationship without any dialogue and compels humans to understand how little is needed to actually feel love. 

Blust, Christina. “HONORING GRIEF: BIG HERO 6” The Live Sincerely Project, 16 Dec. 2014 http://thelivesincerelyproject.com/2014/12/16/honoring-grief-big-hero-6/

In this article Christina Blust summarizes the movie “Big Hero 6” an animated marvel movie. The main characters are Hiro and his closest companion Baymax.They get involved in a dangerous plot because of unexpected events leading Hiro, Baymax and 5 other friends of Hiro’s brother to become a group of high-tech heroes. Hiro is the main character due to him having to face a devastating event, which is losing his older sibling Tadashi. Baymax is a robot created by Hiro’s brother Tadashi, his only purpose is to take care of people, he is very sweet, gentle and incredibly huggable. Hiro has to deal with grief and loss of his older brother but he also gets taken care of by Baymax who not only is a creation of his brother but “a loving supportive, healthy support for Hiro”. This is relevant to my article because the love and support from Baymax to Hiro grieving over his brother connects to human emotions and how people feel during the grief of losing someone. It gives a perspective that not all things can be replaced and sometimes you have to carry that feeling with you. Baymax is the coping mechanism to his grief showing the viewers that sometimes their feelings of loss need to be expressed. 

Ho, Stella. “Ignorance is bliss: Heartbreak, memory in ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’” The Daily Californian, 18 Oct. 2019 https://www.dailycal.org/2019/10/18/ignorance-is-bliss-eternal-sunshine-of-the-spotless-mind/

In the article Ho speaks on the deep emotions all humans feel through the lens created by the movie Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. The author gives her own personal experience in how the passing of her grandfather made her mother block out the memory of his death and she refuses to try and remember to cope with the grief. She says it doesn’t keep her mother happy but she chooses to accept ignorance then to face sorrow. The article ends talking about Joel and Clementines relationship and their reunion and explains how there are some memories, people or events that you can’t eliminate your emotions from. This is relevant to my article because science fiction through the usage of memory deletion gives us a perspective of what would happen if we forgot the painful memories in our lives. It would end up removing the things we know and we would be in a cycle of falling into our emotions with no explanation. In the broadest terms this article states that you can’t run away from emotions unless they will surely fall back into the same pattern of behavior. 

Lee, Joseph M.D. “Science Fiction & Science Fact: What They Tell Us About Our Emotions” Mental Healthiness, 2015. https://www.google.com/amp/s/mentalhealthiness.com/2016/03/29/science-fiction-science-fact-what-they-tell-us-about-our-emotions/amp/

Dr. Lee mentions how science fiction has been a representation of our emotional state in society. He also relates movies like Star Trek with the responsibility of changing people’s perspective on emotions as we progress to a society with more understanding. The article begins with Star Trek in 1966 surrounded by high tensions with Russia and constant war with Vietnam and the beginning of the space race and the peak of the civil right movement. Star Trek was set 300 years in the future with an Earth that was a multicultural and gender equality society with other species besides humans. The show was optimistic which was a well needed change for the extremely high tensions that we felt during the 1960’s. The emotions drove science fiction to represent the complete opposite view to give views some hope. He also explains how in Star Trek there was a scene in the original where a character Spock sacrifices himself as his friend Kirk watches. Spock stays stoic as he dies and Kirk cries and is viewed as weak. The reboot in 2009 is later shown to reverse the roles Kirk sacrifices himself and Spock watches and unlike him to stay stoic and poised he loses it at the sight of his lost friend. This article shows the impact that emotions have when displayed in science fiction as it has a greater impact on how we view these emotions in society and as a society we have an impact of how science fiction responds to the emotions we resonate at the time period. 

Bark, Patricia. Stewart, Maria. Moll, Jeorge. “Training Your Emotional Brain: From Science Fiction to Neuroscience” Frontiers for young minds, 23 Sep. 2016 https://kids.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/frym.2016.00021

The research done by this group of scientists focuses on turning science fiction into a reality. The concept of the movie Blade Runner (which I have never watched) takes place in the year 2019 where androids made or artificial materials become so similar to humans they can’t be distinguished. A device was the only way to tell the difference between the androids and humans which measured empathy. This concept was turned into a real experiment where they recruited 24 people who were placed in an MRI and told to think about people they loved and to feel warm feelings such as affection. Then they would be scanned again while looking at images that represented their brain activity in a process called neurofeedback. The neurofeedback group was actually found to be able to increase their empathic feelings compared to the control groups who saw no change. This experiment shows the probability that in the future people will know how to change their emotional state based on how their brain works. This is important to my research because it shows the literal ways that science fiction allows us to better understand our own emotions. A concept from a movie was taken and scientists discovered how we can control our emotions even better than we ever believed. Truly bringing Blade Runner’s device a little bit closer to a reality. 

Jones, Esther. “Science fiction builds mental resiliency in young readers” The Conversation, 11 May 2020. https://www.google.com/amp/s/theconversation.com/amp/science-fiction-builds-mental-resiliency-in-young-readers-135513

Esther Jones, an associate Professor of English speaks about the stigma of children reading science fiction. The concept that science fiction is a genre for “geeks who can’t cope with reality”. Jones argues this viewpoint saying that it’s quite the opposite to our understanding as it gives children critical thinking skills and emotional intelligence. These characteristics are developed in children through the process called “dual empathy” which is engaging in the challenging issues in the story while “feeling through” characters. Jones also says that science fiction doesn’t limit a reader because people don’t only learn by “mirror-image reflections of reality” but young readers can learn from these stories to think of out of the box ways to engage reality through science. Through the increase of mental health issues readers have a reality overload and science fiction gives “critical distance” from real life issues while giving readers a way to grasp the same big concepts of today. This is important to my research as professor Jones states how through science fiction children are learning how to deal with reality in different ways as they read and feel emotions through the characters and go on a journey of challenges through the story they gain the emotional intelligence and resilience to respond in the real world. 

Asiajgrant, “Empathy or Pity: Racialization and Alienation in Sci-Fi” vusf.world press.com, 10 Oct 2019. https://www.google.com/amp/s/vusf.wordpress.com/2019/10/10/empathy-or-pity-racialization-and-alienation-in-sci-fi/amp/

This article is a little different; it’s more of an opinion piece or question but it brings a good counter argument. This blog says how characters in science fiction are usually given human qualities and at the same time dehumanized. In science fiction that means anything from their bodies being made of metal, or literal aliens they are given qualities that humans lack making a marginalization between us and the characters. The question arises whether the feeling of “empathy” we have is actually pity that is given to characters to feel more human or as the author said “Is it empathy or pity that is supposed to breed more acceptance? Does the difference matter?” This is important to my research because it gives a good counter argument for empathy being mistaken for feelings of pity. 


In this essay I have been struggling with finding my true proposal. I feel like I need to narrow it down more and don’t feel too secure about my topic. I’m unsure about whether I only want to say that science fiction affects us as humans and our understanding without bringing up the concept that the emotions that we feel today as a society affect science fiction as well. Emotions in science fiction are a two way lane and I feel the importance of telling the perspective of both sides. At the same time I feel that if I explain myself well enough in how it affects humans and how that can change the world itself it won’t be necessary. 

I believed that what I did well was my research. I feel as if I can see the idea that emotions really do have an effect on the people that read them. Research has been done from the concepts of understanding emotions through science fiction to get to these conclusions. I also believe that a lot of this is through personal experience and how movies have interacted with my emotions therefore I have a better grasp at how science fiction affects emotions. The importance of the impact movies like “HER” and the “eternal sunshine of the spotless mind” have left me with new perspectives on my own emotions. The research I’ve conducted transmits the same values that I hold from these movies and how other people feel these emotions. 

What are the potential consequences of insufficient value and ethical implementations in advanced AI design?

Ethical issues involving artificial intelligence programs have arisen over the last decades. Rudimentary algorithms that deny loan applicants money based on their zip code history or facial-recognition software placing dark-skinned faces in a higher risk category than light-skinned ones are just two examples. While these are, without a doubt, important and consequential problems for individuals having to deal with the determinations made by those software products, those products of profoundly unsophisticated and narrow domains in artificial intelligence. As time goes on, however, and technology continues its inexorable advancement, their sophistication grows while their domains widen.

All aspects of what we consider to be intelligence are being codified and computationalized, from the design of a system that can understand human language to the scanning and virtualizing of nervous systems and brains. There will come a point when some aspect of our technology can either think or at least give us the impression that it can. From there, based on our technological trajectory, it is only a matter of time before that thinking capacity reaches and exceeds our own. We need to be ready, and the most important way to do that is to understand what we value as humans and how that value can be deeply integrated into our future artificial intelligences. 

Contemporary science fiction has focused on the consequences of poor value and ethical implementations in advanced AI design. Apocalyptic science fiction, such as the Terminator series, and thrillers such as Ex Machina, show serious, albeit anthropomorphized, dangers of neglecting foundational ethical and axiological considerations of artificially-intelligent agents. Other science fiction, such as Asimov’s “The Last Question,” shows the overwhelming, godlike power a potential AI may have once it begins a runaway process of recursive self-improvement. 

While these fictional depictions of malignant AI may seem stylized, dramatic, and far in the future, the current issues of AI bias in software and algorithms are the early warning signs of a potentially catastrophic problem. It is essential we learn these lessons early and take care to implement them along the way. Any failure to do so may be the last thing we ever do.

Annotated Bibliographies + Sources

Asimov, Isaac. The Last Question. 1956, templatetraining.princeton.edu/sites/training/files/the_last_question_-_issac_asimov.pdf.

The short story by Isaac Asimov depicts the runaway recursive self-improvement of a question answering, or oracle-style AI. The AI, known as the Multivac, is focused on answering a particular question about reversing entropy — a question that, over the course of the story, it is unable to answer. As a system whose purpose, or agenda, is wholly dedicated to the instrumental goal of question answering, it determines the best course of action is the reshaping of all matter in the universe, humanity included, into computational substrate in order to answer the question. While this does not necessarily constitute a wholly malignant mode of failure for the AI, since it allows humanity to continue as a virtual collective consciousness within its processing, it shows the need for AI programmers to place specific values and ethics in the AI during the design phase; in this case, the values of physical restraint and energy conservation and the ethics of respecting human individuality.
Bostrom, Nick. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. Oxford,  United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2014. Print.

It is assumed from early on in Superintelligence that, based on the trajectory of human technological progress, artificial general intelligence, or something either approximating or mimicking it, will come to be within the next twenty to one hundred years. Advances in neuronal imaging, increasingly high-density compute clustering, incremental improvements in algorithmic sophistication, and other emerging technologies, both high and low level, will pave the way for some form of artificial general intelligence. It is, according to Bostrom, a genie that cannot be put back into its bottle. Therefore, he argues, it is essential for researchers across all disciplines, not just STEM, to develop strategies to counter the potentially cataclysmic dangers associated with developing an intelligence that will have no boundaries on its capacity. Those strategies are at the forefront of Superintelligence, as well as a strong argument for mediating, and potentially crippling, emerging technologies that have the potential to accelerate the emergence of an artificial general intelligence until proper safeguards can be developed.

Bostrom, Nick, and Eliezer Yudkowsky. THE ETHICS OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. Draft for Cambridge Handbook of Artificial Intelligence, eds. William Ramsey and Keith. Frankish (Cambridge University Press, 2011):  forthcoming https://www.nickbostrom.com/ethics/artificial-intelligence.pdf

In The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, Bostrom and Yudkowsky work to explicate the ethical concerns researchers face when developing an artificial intelligence, but Bostrom and Yudkowsky do not limit their analysis to human concerns. In particular, they note that a greater-than-human-level artificial intelligence would have its own considerations and moral status that must not be overlooked. On the familiar level, the analysis touches on the ethical conundrums surrounding contemporary “dumb AI” algorithm design — in particular, ones that may demonstrate undesirable racist results when used to assess things like creditworthiness or loan risk. The authors also discuss the difficulty of designing an AI that can operate successfully and with desired outcomes across multiple domains. It is a relatively simple task to create an AI that can master one domain, e.g. Deep Blue for chess. It is, however, a vastly more complicated and dangerous task to create one that can master more or all domains.

Gabriel, Iason. “Artificial Intelligence, Values and Alignment.” ArXiv.org, 5 Oct. 2020, arxiv.org/abs/2001.09768.

Gabriel’s Artificial Intelligence, Values, and Alignment studies the philosophical and axiological issues present in the design of a future artificial general intelligence. One theory is a philosophical system that enshrines utilitarian ideals; the belief being that, by codifying a system for the AI agent to follow that ensures it makes decisions and commits actions that provide the greatest good for the greatest number of people, it will not act solely in its own interest or exhibit selfishness. Another theory is codifying Kantian ideals of universal law, such as beneficence or fairness. An underlying, yet profoundly important problem, suggests Gabriel, is that the very act of creating a rigid set of axiological constraints upon the AI does precisely what we are trying to avoid the AI doing to us. Is hardwiring philosophical and axiological codifications an act of aggression or imposition? Among other strategies discussed, reward-based training, which gives the AI a choice when it comes to its philosophical underpinning during the programming and training process, is one that gives the agent some modicum of self determination.

Garland, Alex, director. Ex Machina. Universal Studios, 2014.

The 2014 film explores the testing process of a presumably human-equivalent artificial intelligence, developed in secret, by a reclusive genius. The tester, who is quickly convinced by the AI that it (presenting as she/her) is being victimized by her creator, ultimately devises a plan to free her from the facility. The tester learns, too late, that he has been manipulated by the AI in order to pursue her own agenda. This results in the murder of the AI’s creator, the unseen death of the tester, and the murder of a helicopter pilot which allows the AI to escape, unhindered, into the world at large. The film, which ends on a sinister note, shows the essentiality of ensuring a proper moral and ethical foundation for an AI, since without it, the agendas it will pursue can, and in the case of the AI featured, were, wholly contrary to the health and safety of human beings.

Hendrycks, Dan, et al. “Aligning AI With Shared Human Values.” ArXiv.org, 21 Sept. 2020, arxiv.org/abs/2008.02275.

Aligning AI with Shared Human Values dissects universally-shared human values and endeavors to map those onto a hypothetical artificially-intelligent agent with the hope that the fruit of those dissections can be eventually codified and encoded. Various tests are conducted and disseminated throughout Amazon’s MTurk system, which allows randomized and anonymous users to take the tests for a small payment. Issues featured in the tests are ideas of care, justice, ethics, and common sense. These are to build a consensus of human desiderata. Those things, ideas, beliefs, and other desired elements are incorporated into a corpus of potentially-valuable axiological data sets. That corpus, while nowhere near, and potentially never, complete, can still allow researchers to glean valuable value data to build into an artificially-intelligent agent.

van de Poel, I. Embedding Values in Artificial Intelligence (AI) Systems. Minds & Machines 30, 385–409 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11023-020-09537-4

Van de Poel’s Embedding Values in Artificial Intelligence (AI) Systems takes a from-the-ground-up approach in value design for AI and artificial agent (AA) systems by breaking down the very concept of value into its core elements and using an approach that attempts to see a particular AI as a sociotechnocratic system. The sociotechnocratic systems approach allows a modularization of the certain AI elements, modules he labels “technical artifacts, human agents, and institutions (rules to be followed by the agents.)” The benefit of this approach is it gives perspective into how those individual modules are approached from a value standpoint; e.g. “what are the values embodied in an institution” can become “what are the values embodied in AI systems” and so on. While van de Poel is able to identify a good number of questions to be asked and values to be codified, he does explicitly claim that at no point can all of these determinations be made without continuous human oversight and redesign.

Works Cited

Akrich, M., et al. “Embedding Values in Artificial Intelligence (AI) Systems.” Minds and Machines, Springer Netherlands, 1 Jan. 1992, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11023-020-09537-4.

Asimov, Isaac. The Last Question. 1956, templatetraining.princeton.edu/sites/training/files/the_last_question_-_issac_asimov.pdf.

Bostrom, Nick, and Eliezer Yudkowsky. THE ETHICS OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE.

Gabriel, Iason. “Artificial Intelligence, Values and Alignment.” ArXiv.org, 5 Oct. 2020, arxiv.org/abs/2001.09768.

Garland, Alex, director. Ex Machina. Universal Studios, 2014.

Hendrycks, Dan, et al. “Aligning AI With Shared Human Values.” ArXiv.org, 21 Sept. 2020, arxiv.org/abs/2008.02275.

van de Poel, I. Embedding Values in Artificial Intelligence (AI) Systems. Minds & Machines 30, 385–409 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11023-020-09537-4


The Multiverse and the Relativity of Time

Research Question-How may the idea of the multiverse be affected by time?


Multiverse theory is the idea that the universe we live in is not the only one, and that there is an infinite number of universes that may be similar to our own, or drastically different. Multiverses can also be affected by time, which is created through the ‘Parallel timeline theory’, in which every choice you have possibly not made, has a universe in which you did make that choice. The reason that it is believed that there is an infinite amount of universes is merley because of speculation and is not really set in stone because of some scientist not accepting the idea. 

Time is also very important, as time can determine how advanced something is, how complex something is, durability, etc.Different universes are also said to be affected by time differently within their own spaces, examples include Spiderman 2099, a comic book universe that, while existing at the same time as the main Marvel universe, takes place in the future. There are also multiple versions of this future, all affected by time travel and all resulting in a new world being born.


For my project I want to talk about the different types of multiverses and how they are influenced by time,, as well as how time may flow in each of these other universes. I would like to explore the idea of Quantum physics and how that may come into play in our own universe, as well as multiple universes existing at the same time, but being at different points in time. 


Annotated Bibliography


Marvel Publication, “Marvel Comics” New York City, 1939

Marvel Comics is a viewing of all Marvel comic books as a whole. Because there are so many, it is difficult to list every single universe that they have. However, an example of 2 would be the 616 main Marvel Universe, 1610 Ultimate Universe which are parallel to each other. 

Kuhn, Robert Lawrence. “Confronting the Multiverse: What ‘Infinite Universes’ Would Mean.” Space.com. Space, December 23, 2015. https://www.space.com/31465-is-our-universe-just-one-of-many-in-a-multiverse.html. 

This source goes into debt about whatmultiverse theory and the aspects behind it. This source applies scientific reasoning towards the topic, as well as certain aspects of science into how this theory may be supported such as quantum physics, as well as the aspect of different types of multiverse that there may be. 

Insider, Tech. “Multiverse Theory, Explained.” YouTube. YouTube, January 3, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVvcOQk6G0Q. 

This video quickly talks about multiverse theory and its properties in a much simpler way for the general public to understand. The video is done by astronomer Staurt Clark, who talks about the problems that could be solved based on this theory and applying physics to it. 

Howell, Elizabeth. “Parallel Universes: Theories & Evidence.” Space.com. Space, May 10, 2018. https://www.space.com/32728-parallel-universes.html. 

This source is basically an argument to why parallel universes exist. Parallel universes are multiverse more so affected by time, or in more simpler terms they are universes created by choices we may or make not make. These universe may be exactly the same as our own, up until their own event no matter what it is causing a branch. 

Biba, Erin. “What Is Time? One Physicist Hunts for the Ultimate Theory.” Wired. Conde Nast. Accessed December 3, 2020. https://www.wired.com/2010/02/what-is-time/. 

This source focuses on the aspect of time and what it is. It is done as an interview in which theoretical physicist Sean Carroll sat with Wired.com and was asked a multitude of questions about time and our multiverse, such as his idea that there was something before the Big Bang, how branching universes could have different aspects of time and how they are defined in that universe differently, as well infinite universes, in the past, present and future.

Could Our Actions Effect Universes?

Research Question: Could the Notion of Choice Effect the Multiverse Theory

Our lives are dictated by the ideals of choosing what’s best. Choosing the outcome one thinks would benefit them is the driving factor behind every choice made and every action taken. It’s only natural that the Notion of Choice would be able to change the very fabric of how someone lives and how the World reacts to them, this idea also has a name: The Butterfly Effect. The Butterfly Effect comes from the old belief that with the flap of a Butterfly’s wings in one part of the world comes a natural disaster in another part of it. This extends into the belief that every action, no matter how small or inconsequential it may seem, has a consequence.

When it comes to choice, my mind always wanders to the thought of how our choices might effect everything around us. Could our actions have a bigger consequence than we can expect? Well that’s where something called Multiverse Theory comes in.

The Multiverse Theory is an idea often times shared amongst the many generations that ponder the existence of something greater than our world. The idea that out there, somewhere farther than we as Humans could ever possibly imagine, is a whole other universe with something different about it. Something that makes it an entirely new experience compared to ours. The differing quality of this other universe could be anything; The Axis Powers winning WWII, The Industrial Revolution failing to kick off, The Spread of the Black Plague becoming worldwide, but in my eyes these changes could only occur from one thing: The Notion of Choice.

For my project, I want to explore the topic of how the Multiverse Theory relates to the ideals of the Butterfly Effect, and how the Notion of Choices having set reactions and consequences could cause another universe to sprout into existence. Using examples in Science Fiction such as Peter Ramsey’s Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse or Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon’s lovely animated series Rick and Morty.


Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. Directed by Peter Ramsey, Produced by Columbia Pictures and Sony Picture Animation. 2018

The movie Into The Spider-Verse is a great example of the Multiverse Theory in Science Fiction, because the whole movie revolves about Universes colliding into one another. However, it’s also a great example of the Notion of Choice effecting other Universes. In the Movie, first Spider-Man we see is the perfect example of Spider-Man. He’s cheery, he’s heroic, he’s determined, and he’s a role model. Everything about him is perfect, and the Movie knows this which is why we get to see the flipside of this Spider-Man in the shape of his alternate self Peter B. Parker. In comparison, where the initial Peter Parker is the perfect definition of a Hero who gets back up, Peter B. is the opposite. He loses almost everything that’s important to him because he makes all the wrong choices and ends up being a Spider-Man way past his prime, all because of the way his choices were different from the Initial Peter Parker’s that we see.


Sloat, Sarah. “Into The Spider-Verse’: Parallel Universes Explained by Physicists”, Inverse, https://www.inverse.com/article/51808-spider-man-into-the-spider-verse-science

When it comes to Multiverse Theory, there’s no other place in Science Fiction to turn to than Comic Books. Throughout the years, more and more comic books and superhero type stories have used the idea of Multiverse Theory to create different versions of heroes and villains to help them stay relevant in the ever changing demographic they exist within. Thanks to this, and the immense popularity that came with Into The Spider-Verse, the question of the validity of Multiverses existing within close enough proximity to be brought together has come to light. Luckily, Sarah Sloat is there with a team of Physicists in order to help tackle the subject of Into The Spider-Verse’s example of Parallel Universes existing and being reachable by a particle accelerator. Surprisingly enough, it’s not far off from being possible, as stated by the fact that “So, physicists accept parallel universes, sure, but even in the wildly theoretical world described by string theory, there are rules — and Into the Spider-Verse breaks a big one.” (Sloat, 8).


Kim, Meeri. “The Physics of Rick and Morty“, Slate, https://slate.com/technology/2017/07/rick-and-morty-gets-multiverse-theory-wrong-thats-ok.html

In Science Fiction and Pop Culture nowadays, there’s no show more infamously talked about by the nerds and fans of the whacky world of science than Rick and Morty. With a show that takes a jab at everything and leaves even those with a higher IQ wanting more, Rick and Morty is among the few instances where Multiverse Theory is tackled at multiple intervals in multiple ways. So much so that Meeri Kim took it upon themselves to attempt and explain the physics behind the show’s comedic concept of the Multiverse.


Ward, Cassidy. “Science behind the Fiction: What the Reality Behind Multiverses and Alternate Realities?” Syfy, Amazon Prime, www.syfy.com/syfywire/science-behind-the-fiction-alternate-reality-multiverse-string-theory

In this Syfy Article, Ward talks about the presence of Multiverse Theory within a plethora of various novels, shows, and media examples. On of which, an Amazon Live Action series titled The Man in The High Castle details an Alternate Universe in which the Axis powers win WWII. The series itself is more than enough to serve as an example, but it goes even further by having a reference to our world thanks to an in-World novel titled The Grasshopper Lies Heavy where history plays out the way it does here and the Allied Powers win.


Alexander, Donovan. “Just Like Your Favorite Comic, We May Be Part of a Bigger Multiverse.” Interesting Engineeringinterestingengineering.com/just-like-your-favorite-comic-we-may-be-part-of-a-bigger-multiverse

In this wonderful article posted to Interesting Engineering, Alexander not only explains the basis of Multiverse Theory and what it is, but he brings up the points I want to try and make with this entire research project. What if? The Universe is amongst one of the biggest and strangest things we as Humans have ever experienced. So who’s to say that another Universe that’s close by would be the exact same? As he says in the later paragraphs of his “In one universe, you could have a different job, blue hair, be born in a different country, and so on. Trippy right?” (Alexander, 20). It all depends on the choices that both of the instances made and how different they are.


Abbruzzese, John. “On Using the Multiverse to Avoid the Paradoxes of Time Travel.” Analysis, vol. 61, no. 1, 2001, pp. 36–38. JSTORwww.jstor.org/stable/3329154. Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

This article talks about using Multiverse Theory to better counteract the paradoxes of Time Travel. In it, Abbruzzese talks about how most media featuring concepts of Time Travel make it apparent that using Time Travel frivolously can have dire consequences that immediately affect the person who caused the rift, unless of course there was another Universe outside of the one where they existed in which the direct result of the Time Traveller’s actions took full effect. This strengthens the ideas of the Notion of Choice because of how important the decisions a Time Traveller(s) made when they jumped back in time. Even doing nothing at all would lead to another Universe being made where they actually did do something.


The Butterfly Effect. Directed by Eric Bress & J. Mackye Gruber, Produced by Katalyst Films & Blackout Entertainment. 2004

Another Time Travel film with the idea of Choice effecting things to such a great scale that they end up creating a split reality, The Butterfly Effect features the idea of a man being able to travel back to his childhood in order to try and fix the various traumas he suffered. Evan, played by Ashton Kutcher, has the strange ability to travel back into his childhood self whenever he reads his old journals from that time. With each time he goes back, Evan changes something about his past and therefore causes a rift in which that event he witnessed never happened and now never affected his life. This ends up creating various other timelines, even one where he ends up as a quadruple amputee, but it makes me wonder about how his choices truly affected his life. Like the initial choice to go all the way back to his childhood, how had that affected the self that witnessed the trauma? Is his initial timeline, his Prime Universe, just completely erased because of his actions? It’s showed that he’s had blackouts since he was a kid and that those blackouts were his adult self travelling back and taking over his body, but is there a universe without those blackouts? Was he doomed to discover this power?


Donnie Darko. Directed by Richard Kelly, Produced by Flower Films. 2001

With the end of the world coming in a couple of days, and a strange rabbit named Frank telling you to commit crimes, what else are you going to do but play along? Donnie Darko is a strange film to say the least, but a definite must have when it comes to exploring the idea of Choice and the Multiverse Theory. Throughout the film, Donnie is faced with the fact that the world is going to end and that the only things he can trust are the words of a strange man in a sinister looking bunny suit. With this in mind, Donnie does what Frank tells him, and although they are a string of violent crimes they end up helping those in need like causing a closeted pedophile to get ousted after burning his house down and several other things. In the end a vortex swallows the world and Donnie with it, yet he wakes up at the beginning of the story like nothing ever happened. Much like Donnie, you’re left questioning if what he experienced actually happened or if that was just him having a bad dream before a plane crashed into his house. You’d be right to suspect the latter, but there’s evidence of traces of the events being real with the fact that after the Prophesized end occurs and everything goes back to the beginning, characters interact as if what had happened drew them closer despite never even talking before. It makes you wonder, is the supposed “End” actually the third loop and did Donnie’s actions affect the outcome of this new universe? Did Donnie experience all that he did throughout the story because of something that might’ve happened to cause a first loop? Was Frank a figment of Donnie’s prior trauma from the first Vortex which only showed up to try and help him better the outcome of the second?

Ethics of Genetic Modification

Is gene modification ethical? With programs like CRISPR, gene modification has been a topic throughout science fiction and real-world science in recent times. Science fiction shows can show the possibilities of gene modification but can also show some of the downsides. Orphan Black, a Canadian sci-fi thriller about clones, shows some ethical issues with genetic modification and more specifically cloning. Humans have already begun experimenting with cloning as far back as 1996 with Dolly the Sheep, the first-ever mammal to be cloned. When experimenting with the genetic makeup and structure of living beings, it is important to consider morals and ethics, such as should we even mess with our own genetics? What are the consequences of doing so? We also have to consider how genetic modification would affect those that are modified and how society would look in a future where genetic modification is commonplace. These speculative themes are explored in science fiction and can help us further understand and think about some of the ethical and moral ambiguities of genetic modification.

[What are some of the ethical and moral questions when it comes to human genetic modification? There are a lot of ethical and moral debates about human genetic modification, and how that can affect society on a grand scale.]


Manson, Graeme, John Fawcett, Tatiana Maslany, Dylan Bruce, Jordan Gavaris, Kevin Hanchard, Michael Mando, Maria D. Kennedy, Skyler Wexler, Matt Frewer, and Kristian Bruun. Orphan Black: Season One. , 2013.


Orphan Black is a Canadian science-fiction thriller about Sarah Manning. The show tackles themes of cloning and genetic modification as well as some of the moral, ethical, and legal issues with it. The show uses a lot of real and factual science to discuss the themes presented and is useful to my research as a way to connect real-world science to speculative problems of science fiction.


Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell. “Genetic Engineering Will Change Everything Forever – CRISPR.” YouTube, uploaded by Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell, 10 Aug. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAhjPd4uNFY&t=68s.

Dvorsky, George. “The Real-Life Science Behind Orphan Black.” Io9, Gizmodo, 16 Dec. 2015, io9.gizmodo.com/the-real-life-science-behind-orphan-black-1694765437.

Fikse, Alyssa. “‘Orphan Black’ Continues To Grapple With Huge Themes In Its Final Season.” UPROXX, Uproxx, 19 Mar. 2019, uproxx.com/tv/orphan-black-midseason-review.

Dvorsky, George. “These Unresolved Ethical Questions Are About to Get Real.” Io9, Gizmodo, 16 Dec. 2015, io9.gizmodo.com/these-unresolved-ethical-questions-are-about-to-get-rea-512883836.

Connor, Steve. “First Human Embryos Edited in U.S.” MIT Technology Review, MIT Technology Review, 2 Apr. 2020, www.technologyreview.com/2017/07/26/68093/first-human-embryos-edited-in-us.

Cussins, Jessica. “What Clones Think of CRISPR and Other Highlights from the Final Season of Orphan Black.” Center for Genetics and Society, Biopolitical Times, 7 Aug. 2017, www.geneticsandsociety.org/biopolitical-times/what-clones-think-crispr-and-other-highlights-final-season-orphan-black.