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Techno-heaven or techno-hell? If you believe many scientists working in the emerging fields of twenty-first-century technology, the future is blissfully bright. Initially, human bodies will be perfected through genetic manipulation and the fusion of human and machine; later, human beings will completely shed the shackles of pain, disease, and even death, as human minds are downloaded into death-free robots whereby they can live forever in a heavenly "posthuman" existence. In this techno-utopian future, humanity will be saved by the godlike power of technology.
If you believe the authors of science fiction, however, posthuman evolution marks the beginning of the end of human freedom, values, and identity. Our dark future will be dominated by mad scientists, rampaging robots, killer clones, and uncontrollable viruses. In this timely new book, Daniel Dinello examines "the dramatic conflict between the techno-utopia promised by real-world scientists and the techno-dystopia predicted by science fiction."
Organized into chapters devoted to robotics, bionics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and other significant scientific advancements, this book summarizes the current state of each technology, while presenting corresponding reactions in science fiction. Dinello draws on a rich range of material, including films, television, books, and computer games, and argues that science fiction functions as a valuable corrective to technological domination, countering techno-hype and reflecting the "weaponized, religiously rationalized, profit-fueled" motives of such science. By imaging a disastrous future of posthuman techno-totalitarianism,science fiction encourages us to construct ways to contain new technology, and asks its audience perhaps the most important question of the twenty-first century: is technology out of control?
|Introduction : dreams of techno-heaven, nightmares of techno-hell||1|
|1||Technology is God : machine transcendence||18|
|2||Haunted utopias : artificial humans and mad scientists||32|
|3||Cybernetic slaves : robotics||58|
|4||Machines out of control : artificial intelligence and androids||87|
|5||Rampaging cyborgs : bionics||115|
|6||Infinite cyberspace cages : the Internet and virtual reality||147|
|7||Engineered flesh : biotechnology||180|
|8||Malevolent molecular machines : nanotechnology||223|
|9||Technology is a virus : machine plague||246|
|10||Epilogue : technophobia||273|