The Final Project

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Abstract: The presentation will be about a brief summary of genes followed by how recent developments in genes may improve our lives, how things improvements must be taken with caution and how sci fi uses genetic modification

 

 

Reflection: when first researching the first topic I had, I found it to be too bland and uninspired, then I decided to go for a broader topic of gene modification which seem to come up more and more in our day to day lives. Knowing that progress is an inevitability, I instead focused on how they might adversely affect us if left uncontrolled. I came to this conclusion after remembering the crazy soviet scientist that wanted to make an army of monkey men to rule the world, I found him first  a Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov. after finding that crazy old coot, I knew that there were probably some other companies that were looking to monetize something in this regard. and lord and behold I found a bunch of weirdness, from designer babies to trying to copyrighting human genes to trying to modify specifics  characteristics of the human bodies. I did at this point take a look back at the presentation format and that I should go in there like no one in the room knows what I am even talking about, and knowing that gene modification could be confusing without knowing  what a gene is, I began to search up some background info on genes, this also furthered me as i found out that cells can only take about as much data as they are given so over loading them with “new” chromosomes would be a very bad idea, which gave me a new point to discuss. i did want to start out kinda happy at the beginning in order not to sound to much a negative Nancy. I would like to know if this is too of topic but i couldn’t not included it just encase that some people in the class could get lost and my Q/A section is filled with background info and that I have failed to address my topic as people were to distracted to know what is going on. This also serves a refresher to those that may have had prior knowledge of the subject but need a reminder to kick start it and be fully engaged with the presentation.   

Human Gene augmentation

The reason that this topic interests me so much is that one, I see it as a close inevitability to be brought to the public stage, “designer babies” being one of the key ones popping up a lot in moral debates over whether it is moral or just to augment one’s child to something more appealing or desired by the parents such as sex/hair color. This topic merely covers the surface of what is possible, as when we get farther into devolving this technology, we may be able to augment a child who is infected with Hunting’s disease genome to where that child will no longer fear having that horrible illness, this  more then likely can only be done by gene therapy because of the fact that this disease is  the dominant gene making it unavoidable, just as like having a hip bone is. Now on the topic of Sci Fi, gene augmentation takes a new light, with that of splicing genes in to a chimera, and that of altering the human genome to new heights. Most Sci fi depictions have seen gene augmentation as ruling out all the weaknesses of humanity, making one smarter, stronger, quicker and ultimately seen as wiser because of this, but this brings up a lot of questions such as, if under taken, is one still human after the augmentation? How far can we go with this? should everyone be subject to it if it benefits so much? what other alternatives are there? and what if those augmented see those not as less humans because of it?

I would like to frame this presentation with the Warhammer 40k universe in mind as one of it’s mascots are the space marines, gene warriors forge to fight  for humanity and it’s Imperium. they possess traits that far out weigh normal humans, they are of course faster, stronger, “smarter”, they only need to sleep once every month, they spit acid, ect. now while they are vastly different then normal humans they still have that human element to them of individuality, some are incredibly set in their ways unable to break form them while others are more fluid, some are calculating machines while others are extremely empathetic, some even betray their vows and fail, like humans.in the W40k verse before even having gene soldiers they had self advancing machines that where feared by everyone but humans, until they ultimately turned on their masters, the men of iron they where called “The men of Iron” and the reason they where so scary was because they ate data, and that includes the raw data of space, they where ultimately stopped but so was humanity’s first space venture. Trying to define humanity by our blood is incredibly semantic and I believe the writers (for the most part…)as what ultimately binds us to humanity is our individuality and our takes on life since we all can travel since humanity is not really a concept set in stone or confined to a box, but more like and ever growing and branching tree.

 

Reflection: Man I feel like being given a project that is a choose what you want project is hard, actually addendum, having a short from project  that is like this is a bit hard for me since I want to grab very be concepts and go with them, but having a time crunch in class kinda shoots most of them down. then once I got one thing I really wanted to do and began writing, it changed, and it changed again, and again, etc. until I reached gene augmentation a concept that can be, for the most part explained in simple quick ways with depth. I also wanted to do something that could be more aligned with Sci Fi as most other concepts have been done in Fantasy tales, like aliens are just other races on different space rocks, different dimensions have the same Issue as they both delves in to the exact same concept , same with robots as magical constructs, or as the unfeeling undead/ demonic hoard. gene therapy is really the only thing that maybe “unique” in the sense that, in every fantasy tale has any augmentations being that of the soul or spirit which can be fought against and beaten. gene augmentation is something  a lot more permanent and can not be beaten with the strength of will  or wished away or some other mumbo jumbo. Plus I am really into self sacrifice themes as that shows an elevation in humanity. since gene augmentation is for the most part permanent, it draws me to it, and the whole risk versus reward and how each person is still and individual despite the augmentations is really fascinating to me. or when you have a character that has to make a sacrifice in order to save them selves from a different fate, that ether being an incurable illness or life as a peasant/ city rat is what I think really compels us to read and analyse a concept more closely, and that is what I really like most of Sci Fi is the far flung concepts on the horizon that will influence humanity and make us have deeper moral and philosophical principles.

Sources:

Do we need marker gene studies in humans to improve clinical AAV gene therapy?

T Weber – Gene Therapy, 2017 – nature.com

[HTML] Gene therapy approaches for prevention of retinal degeneration in Usher syndrome

DS Williams, A Chadha, R Hazim, D Gibbs – Gene Therapy, 2017 – nature.com

Gene Augmentation Therapy Restores Retinal Function and … – NCBI

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26087757 

What is gene therapy? – Genetics Home Reference

https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/therapy/genetherapy

FAQ About Genetics, Disease Prevention and Treatment – National …

https://www.genome.gov/19016938/faq-about-genetics-disease-prevention-and-treatment/

Religion in Warrhammer 40,000’s Imperium of Man

Why does this interest me?: Religion in warhammer 40k has had far reaching effects on the overall universe, from the near collapse of the 2nd human empire, to how the lives of the common citizens are held under its grasp. Of note though, things where not always like this as for the most part the Imperium was secularist in its past. Also, the Imperial cult was made by one of the emperor’s sons whom was deeply religious, wrote a book about how the emperor should be a god, which he found to be appalling.

What does this have to do with sci fi?: while the “imperial cult” has its normal influences on the common folk such has common worship,pretty much anything being heresy, it really comes down to how technology is influenced. See in Warhammer 40k, innovation is seen has a sin because one does not know the ramifications of his own invention, and as such, any time something new is needed, it can only be built and used for a single purpose, and this use has to be specific to the point of OCD. A.I. is also seen as another sin due to one taking power into his own hands to make intelligence. though some A.Is are allowed as the form of “machine spirits” which are amalgamations of machine and some organic material, in order form them to work one must chant “prayers” to them in order from them to work, or to be less temperamental. a good way of viewing them is a sort of chained A.I. that is to say, they do have some sentience and can gain complete autonomy if told to self destruct.

Sources: Horus Heresy Mechanicum army list. Warhammer 40,000 7th edition. the Horus Heresy novel series.

Class notes for 5/9/17

No More Mandatory Readings

End of class project- a presentation done on something you find interesting. The restrictions being A) it must be sci fi in some sense, B) It has to be focused. For example if you like aliens, then do something like how are aliens portrayed in the 1950’s this has to be done in a 5 minute presentations

The two guide lines in order to have a successful at this project. A) are you interested in your topic? B) what can you learn and go in depth amount and make an initial claim.

draft your initial concept by Thursday and bring in 3 copies and your own device(ipad, labtop, etc). and be sure to read the project outline and to do research on your topic.

if you have any questions about the project, email the professor.

class conversation on the themes of Westworld.

“why the wild west?”, “feels similar o video games”, “glitches/bugs, even flies representing that”, “memory tampering”, “recycling/appropriating”, “the more nuance they add to the hosts the more they could rebel”, “what is humanity?”

Small Steps Corrupt

The local of west world seems to be that of, a live action massive multiplayer online video game, where in all the scenarios and sets are constructed in order to provide narrative entertainment. The main difference is that, while most video games are ridged in their designs because of the limitations posed on the confines of the computer and memory code, where in order for a character to break their role, they must ether be killed or glitched. I Westworld, part of the point is to ruin the world, as it resets everyday. This while it seems to indulge in humanity’s more “primal” influences it is more a kin to “People come here to seek freedom and stake their dream”(4:16). Which seems to be an alright concept on the surface until the mistake we leave behind causing ripples unforeseen to everyone, even us the viewer, as to quote the late Steve Jobs “Only looking back can we connect the dots”. As one can never guess the stray fly or fallen photograph that will send events into motion that normally wouldn’t be able to happen. like one of the hosts glitching out  or spinning out of their loops. On the part of the caretakers whom try to make the best experience possible for the guest, try to make everything as real as possible, with the case a revories “Basic gestures where always normal, but these are tied to specific memories”(16:45). This would be a great way to make the hosts feel more human, but with that the more likely they are to rebel as memories by design are made to influence our actions to avoid danger and gain knowledge. Which is why the memories are typically destroyed after a loop, which with code is not the same as our memories as code does not destroy memories, only overwrites them. But in order to construct a narrative world, each host must have their own little inflections such as accent or the way they hold themselves and maybe their “artificial” memories as “Tiny things make them seem real”(17:15). One maybe note that I drawled upon was the choice to use “From the new world” by Dvorak, in order illustrate the tension. This may hold deep meaning as Dvorak said that after his trip to america and visiting native tribes, he was influenced by their musical instruments, and we he came back to Europe, used his vision of the great american plains while trying to recreate the native american’s instruments. I mention this because, Westworld has this take on the american “wild west” as this fantasy to hearken back to and tries to recreate that, but is ultimately changed due to the fact that out side influences have seeped in an corrupted it, how ever small and seeming benign they all are individually, together they form an amalgamation of mutation and everything involved is changed via retrospect. Like the fact that this seemingly wild west town is basically a medieval fantasy tale, just with guns and silly hats instead of armor and swords, giving more to that human “uncanny valley” effect.

“The one constant int the universe is change; the wise adapt”

One of the most striking aspects about Parable of the Sower is how adult Lauren is compared to the rest of the character’s. actually its more nuanced then that, its that, she sees the world for what it is, that it has changed irretrievably and that it has died, ultimately seeing humanity’s future is among the stars. Another one of Lauren’s personal philosophy is that of personal responsibility, and that she is not beyond this ether as when she makes a just in case “survival kit” she wants to take a gun despite her having this some what telepathic trait she has of “hyperempathy” which would allow her to feel the pain of whom ever she shoots with her gun, which also may hide another secret philosophy of “power demands sacrifice” since she has to to feel the same feelings as another which makes it hard for self defense. One quote I found interesting about this sense of personal responsibility is the chapter six Earthseed passage “Drowning people sometimes die fighting their rescuers”(61). This quote brings a sense of useless struggle, where the drowning person is totally independent and through that Independence, kills themselves, while there is another trying to save the drowning person, bringing a sense of community. I mention this because the Earthseed philosophy does stress the personal accountability, which does have this intrinsic sense of independence, but what it actually sets out to do is have people look at a situation  and assess the situation and what is the best course of action, mostly one’s own adapting to the situation, but also has the nuance of allowing other people to help you find that adaptation. The reason for this adaptation is that Earthseed’s god is that of change and that they are not nether benevolent nor malevolent as the passage of Earthseed on chapter four shows, “A victim of god may, Through learning adaptation, Become a partner of God, A victim of God may, Through forethought and planning, become a shaper of God. Or a victim of God may, Through shortsightedness and fear, Remain God’s victim, God’s plaything, God’s prey.”(31). This passage also shows how the notion of god works in Earthseed, which I find quite interesting. God is not seen as paternal figure nor a deity to worship and fear, but more as and equal and sets rules to live by of planning and manipulation, even to the extent of that, followers of Earthseed can change and mold their God and become equals with them, though God will always test humans just as humans will test God. The philosophy is also further pushed with the passage on chapter 3, “We do not worship God. We perceive God. We learn from God. With forethought and work, We shape God. In the end, we yield to God. We adapt and endure, For we are Earthseed and God is change.”(17). It will be quite interesting to see how the philosophy of Earthseed changes, as I doubt that a philosophy built on change would be stagnate.

Part one of the final notes of 1984

The opening discussions on the end of 1984 see the book as hopeless, harsh, unforgiving constant negativity, some students even find the book pointless because of the end, because nothing changes, also this being the point of how hard it would be to change the way things are. There is hope that history will repeat itself and spawn a new Winston. The next part of class broke up into group work to cover the last topics such as.

The Brotherhood; O’Brain: The brother hood is supposed to be double agents in order to take down the Party. This is all propaganda made by the Party in order to further the secret police. When O’Brain asks Winston and Julia to swear on the book, Winston toasts to the past. The reiteration that O’Brain saves no one if caught, some what dark irony for the ending.

Hate: Manufactured emotion by the Party. The propaganda illicit Hate. The great enemy is what the hate is funneled into. The higher up are consumed with hate which fuels the emotion more. The war that Oceania is constantly involved with has no enemy since war needs no enemy now, all the while keeping a total war doctrine that being that, everything about the country is all for making war at one hundred percent.

Newspeak: Please see 2BridgesReview.org for contemporary connections on new speak. New speak being he new langue the Party has made for its mambers to replace modern English. In the principles of newspeak that it is written in a historical scholar perspective, writing in the past tense for Oceania, giving some hope that the status quo for Oceania changes, the professor also makes a note that some academics disagree with this.

 

“Welcome to the Monkey House”

The lengths The Party goes to keep its status quo of government is more insanely brilliant, it being a whirl wind of gore for its subjects to enjoy and dragged into. The Party’s attitude on sex at first in to story is that seen of ” objective ” use, as it only being used to turn out more party members to feed the party, and to spy on their parents. Julia ultimately realizes that this is used two fold. ” It was not merely that the sex instinct  created a world of its own which was outside of the Party’s control and which there for had to be destroyed if possible. what was more important was that sexual privation induced hysteria, which was desirable because it could be transformed into war fever and leader worship”( page 135). The sex prohibition is in turn, just another cog to the Party’s total war doctrine, and allow something as a demagogue like Big Brother to take hold as a central part of society. what is more interesting still is that, porn is distributed among the proles to keep them getting to uncomfortable, as the poorest people generally have sex the most in hierarchical society. The bombastic gathering called “Hate Week”, is simultaneously the biggest paradox to the Party and its apex of glory. the paradox arrives from the fact that Hate Week is a large grouping of people acting very cantankerously with bombs going off all around. (As a side note, the fact that rocket bombs go off much more constantly during Hate Week really solidifies the fact that the Party is bombing its members.). While all the the violent displays are regulated by the Party, with even them playing the “Hate Song” on every telescreens for a week. “The new tune which was to be the theme song of Hate Week (the “Hate Song” it was called)…” “resembled the beating of a drum. roared out by hundreds of voices to the tramp of marching feet, it was terrifying” (page 151). This cacophony never stops even at night, creating more and more hysteria for this week, trying to invoke a sense of constant war and emending doom, the bombs going off in the distance can be seen as a simulated battle almost saying that the “enemy” is close by. this all culminates with the feeling that only Big Brother can protect you from the ravages of war and that surveillance  is for your safety. The history and bulwark of the Party makes it evident on how the Party acts the way it does. The Party’s complete opposition to foreign ideas is because it never really had to deal with strong opposition ever really. The Party takes many of its ideas from the early socialist movements of the nineteen hundreds and the idea that things should be unequal, as the flaw of the past socialist movements was that sense of equality. At the apex of the Party is Big Brother, the cult of personality. “Big Brother is infallible and all powerful” (page 213). The fact that the Party turns the guise of a normal into the head of itself and a god is tell, almost saying its ruled by divinity and that the war machine culture is humanities apex an reason for creation.

Nineteen Eighty Four, Part 1

Why, oh why, must every dystopian society have a creepy cult in it. This cult of hate that Orwell writes in “Nineteen Eighty Four”  is really insane, which has been shown likewise in the propaganda.”War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength”(page 4).This comes from the giant pyramid in the heart of London, and what it reflects in this society is a complete lack of empathy when bloodshed is happening, as a matter of fact its almost worshiped, both the lack of empathy, and the bloodshed. when Winston starts feverishly writing the scene where he and a group of people watch what is basically an orgy of blood, and how everyone around him treats it like a comedy or see a home team win a sports game. Though Winston in this second/ third person perspective disconnects himself from the scene.”then you saw a lifeboat full of children with a helicopter hovering over it.”(page 8). While Winston tries to disconnect from the situation, we can see as the reader that his personal flourishes in his writing can be seen. From improper use of punctuation to the complete and utter stream of consciousness the last run on sentience is, puts into perspective that this is a deeply personal thing to Winston, though he himself can not recall why. Though despite this stream of consciousness, the imagery Winston gives us is vivid but also lightly handed and not to be taken out place or break the immersion of the story. credits to Orwell on being a great writer. On some what of a tangent, Winston’s perspective through out the first part of the book seems to also draw parallel  with another Orwell piece, “Shooting An Elephant”, which is about Orwell’s service in India while in the army, and the sort of mania about people and violence. Orwell seems to draw from that experience to this book.

The society that Winston inhabits is a very insecure society, basing it off of, there is no such thing as innocence, only degrees of guilt. It first really shows off this ideology with “Big Brother Is Watching You” ( page 2). Where it seems to the point that the state assumes that everyone is a criminal( despite Winston saying that there are no more laws ) or a danger at any point in time as everyone is watch by the prophetic “Big Brother”. What is odd is the name “Big Brother” itself, as of course an elder sibling’s job is to watch over and protect the young ones, ergo, the name has two meanings behind it from our perspective. One, that the elder siblings protection has turned into a paranoid perversion of what it is meant to be, instead of giving piece of mind, it gives the same paranoia from the constant “protection”. Two, the state believes that its citizens are children that have no idea how to take care of themselves, which is why the mantra on the pyramid is the way it is, as it hints that all “Big Brother” does, is for the sake of you at the cost to his mental faculties, binding people to a sort of Stockholm syndrome of repression.

 

There Will Come Soft Rains

So this story, There Will Come Soft Rains, is a miserable short story about a house that tries to take care of it’s self after nuclear annihilation of the human race, and fails miserably. The house tries to keep up with its daily schedule, which comes off way more then a sane being, then to a manic trying to keep all the bells and whistles running as the train takes a nose dive off the side of the cliff. “Until this day, how well the house had kept its peace[…]it had shut up its windows and drawn shades in an old maidenly preoccupation with self-protection which bordered on a mechanical paranoia.”(pg 2). Even as “inhuman” as the house is, being ruled by programming and such, it is very hard not to empathize with it, though I do think that it is more about the house having a degree of innocence to the chaotic and cacophonous world around it. Even when the familiar face of the family dog comes in.”The dog frothed at the mouth, lying at the door, sniffing, its eyes turned to fire. It ran wildly in circles, biting at its tail, spun in a frenzy, and died. It lay in the parlor for an hour.”(pg 2) he house lets it in, but the house seems to be ignorant to this poor dog’s condition, all the while its making “human” food and basically kills the dog physically, and emotionally. What it shows is that unless probably told other wise, it can not stray from its schedule, even if a family pet is dying of starvation, after which, it sees it as another piece of trash and burns the poor thing. The poor house after this, in all of it’s great upkeep, is eventually undone by the entropy of the outside. “At ten o’clock the house began to die. The wind blew. A failing tree bough crashed through the kitchen window.”(pg 3) “The fire burst the house and let it slam flat down, puffing out skirts of spark and smoke.”(pg 4). Through out the this whole scene its given as if that this was inevitable, and that even as the house fights back, some other processes are benign to all the chaos going on around them. The reason for the houses loss is due to it only being reactive to the intruding violations, instead of proactive, as the house seems to lack total stimuli to anything that happens outside the house until it intrudes. Ray Bradbury may have meant this as an analog for Nuclear warfare that it is firstly a reactionary strategy at best, and secondly, if the worst comes to past and it does happen, no amount of human musings and band aid tactics are going to save us from the fire that will surely come, and rout us. on final just realized note, the beginning is played out much like a Dr. Seuss story. “Tick-tock, seven o’clock, time to get up, time to get up, seven o’clock! as if it were afraid that nobody would. The morning house lay empty. The clock ticked on, repeating and repeating its sounds into the emptiness. Seven-nine, breakfast time, seven-nine!” (pg 1). I cant really tell what Bradbury was trying to accomplish here, it has all the rhythm and semi wackiness that a Dr. Seuss has in it, maybe to distance us from the environment to the house or to protract it’s innocence more.