An undergraduate course that explores the increasingly complex relationship between science, technology, & society, through twelve kick-ass movies
The Moviegoer’s Guide to The Future takes a hard look at how we might really mess up the future with science and technology, and how we can develop new technologies in ways that improve lives without causing harm — all through watching and discussing a bunch of kick-ass science fiction movies.
By watching and exploring movies like Jurassic Park and Ghost in the Shell (the original Anime version, of course) we’ll be exploring technologies from genetic engineering and “de-extinction”, to human enhancement, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence. But we’ll also be looking at the human side of technology innovation, from the ethics of cloning in movies like Never Let Me Go, and “pre-justice” in Minority Report, to the dangers of blind entrepreneurial ambition in movies like Ex Machina. And we’ll be examining some of the really big issues in science and society like climate change (with The Day After Tomorrow), and religion and belief (through Carl Sagan’s Contact).
Using these and the rest of the 12 movies in the the course as a kicking-off point, we’ll dive into the increasing complex relationship between science, technology and society, and begin exploring how, through understanding this relationship better, we can help build a better technological future — for everyone.
THE MOVIE LINEUP
The course is based on the book Films from the Future: The Technology and Morality of Sci-Fi Movies.
KEY IDEAS AND CONCEPTS
We cover a lot of ideas and concepts in this class, including:
- The nature and potential risks and benefits of emerging technologies.
- The complex relationships between science, technology, and society.
- The ethics of innovation.
- Social justice, equity, rights, and privileges.
- Socially responsible and responsive innovation.
- Existential risk and technology innovation.
- Power, influence, and innovation.
- The nature of science and belief.
- What it means to be human.
Following the class, you’ll be able to:
- Use active viewing skills to gain insights on real-world challenges and opportunities from movies.
- Discuss how science fiction movies can provide insights into the potential benefit and risks of new and emerging technologies.
- Describe a number of emerging technological capabilities and the societal opportunities and challenges they present, including genetic engineering, cloning, human enhancement, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, synthetic biology and geoengineering.
- Explain why inclusive and transdisciplinary approaches are needed for successful and responsible technology innovation, and how this can occur.
- Discuss the socially responsible, responsive and beneficial development of new technologies from a transdisciplinary and inclusive perspective.