Journal #6

After viewing the episode “The Entire History of You” of Black Mirror, I reflected on how memory keeps us focused on the past and not the present. In the episode, when Liam and Ffion are having sex, both individuals are viewing past sexual encounters through the grain implemented behind their ear. Once both of them climax in the real world, they stop viewing their respective recordings and begin living in the present once again. While the grain is an effect tool recall information and store happy moments, this device basically turns Liam insane with jealous and suspicion regarding Ffion and Jonas. This addition memory gained by the grain keeps Liam recounting past events and analyzing each individuals actions, drawing conclusions merely on facial reactions or simple gestures. In addition, memory can be skewed by the grain. Liam says to Ffion, “you’re a bitch, sometimes,” yet Ffion leaves out the sometimes and replays the memory. The grain ends up having destructive implications in Liam’s life: he lost his wife and child, realized his wife had cheated on him, and ended up manually removing his grain through an extremely painful method. The show seems to be a warning for what the future capacity for memory and storage can lead to. Do we want to know everything that we do and say, or is it sometimes better that we forget some details of a conversation or event? In the case of this episode, memory seemed to be the reason for the disaster that unfolded in Liam’s lap.

In addition, as Science Fiction serves as a predictor of future events, I reflected on what future technology will bring. Delany’s Web in Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand resembles our modern-day internet, and some of the innovations predicted in Black Mirror have already been implemented in our society. In an episode titled “Hated in the Nation,” the modern world no longer has bees to pollinate the plants, so mechanical bees were engineered to replace the lost species. However, a hacker could manipulate these remote-control bees and use them for deadly purposes. In our current society, bees are dying at an alarming rate, and we will need to find some supplement in the future to replace these dying species. Thus, mechanical bees are not far from being a common occurrence in our everyday lives, and we must think of the ramifications and possible implications of this new technology. In addition, in the episode “White Christmas,” a man using a software called “Eye-Link” can have dating professionals help him pick up women by seeing through his eyes and guiding his moves. With the invention of new, updated cameras and first person point of view perspective cameras, the possibility for technology such as “Eye-Link” could soon be a possibility and seriously infringe on our individual privacy. These episodes of Black Mirror serve as a warning for the harmful and disastrous consequences that new technology can have on society, and we must proceed with caution in the development of innovations that could possible conflict with society’s privacy and best interests.

Journal #5

I just saw this document in my drafts and forgot to post it before.


Reflecting on Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, two main themes arouse throughout my reading that really resonated with me. First, the immergence of GI technology and the development of the Web to connect the 6000 galaxies in the novel. The Web compiles data on every individual in the galaxy: their personal preferences, personality type, and ideal sexual partners. This GI technology is a somewhat more advanced form of Asimov’s Multivac in “The Last Question” and “All the Troubles in the World.” Multivac compiled data on the citizens based on the questions they asked to the system, yet the Web is more complex and comprises data on individuals without them even giving out their personal information. Marq Dyeth and Rat Korga are ideal sexual partners without even knowing each other, and they were brought together based on the information generated by the Web. The Web emulates our modern day internet and the World Wide Web. Amazon uses our search history to gather information on our hobbies and interests, while Facebook provides information about and images of our friends and families. In addition, Twitter serves as a form of social media to express your everyday thoughts and feelings. Thus, the internet has become remarkably similar to the Web described in Delany’s novel, and we are providing this information via our online presence.

In addition, gender and sexual identity play a huge role in this novel. In some galaxies, there are multiple genders, and when Rat Korga arrives on Velm, he is exposed to a whole new world of sexuality. On Velm, homosexual and heterosexual encounters within one species and between species is accepted, and relationships are not exclusive on Velm. Partners are encouraged to branch out and experience new sexual relations to achieve fulfillment and satisfaction. In 1984, homosexual and transgender individuals were outcasts in contemporary society, and Delaney depicts a world where those ideas were not only accepted but were the norm. As a homosexual author himself, I believe Delany is making a call to push for more acceptance of homosexual individuals to welcome those ideas into society. His novel depicts an advanced society—more advanced than society at the time—where these ideals have arisen, and if science fiction is a prediction of the future, then Delany could be describing a future time period where homosexuality is finally a common occurrence.

Journal #4

After discussing The Caves of Steel in class, I constantly recognized the theme of racism that is both present in the story and has been present in our overall class discussion. This racial attitude is displayed both towards robots and towards women. Jessie is portrayed in the story as a delirious, hysterical figure. She makes irrational decisions and is depicted as somewhat dependent on Elijah. In addition, Elijah treats her as an inferior being, often speaking to her bluntly and disregarding her opinions all together. When she comes into the police office crying hysterically, Jessie is depicted as somewhat unstable and unable to make rational decision. Asimov points out flaws in the society he is currently writing in, where women are treated as inferior and deemed dependent on a male to rise in society. In some societies and even in the United States, this unfair attitude towards women is still prevalent, having influence on wage gaps and employment opportunities. Regarding racism towards robots present in Asimov’s novel, the Medievalists represent many of the hate groups present in society. In Spacetown, robots are treated as second class citizens and used as slave labor. And while Daneel looks almost exactly like Dr. Sarton, he still is used as his servant and follows his order directly in accordance with the Three Laws of Robotics. When Daneel arrives on Earth, he immediately senses and feels disdain from many of the commoners on Earth, causing Jessie to stay with her mother while Daneel and Elijah stay in an apartment. Constantly throughout the story, we see certain groups acting superior to others, whether it be men and women or humans and robots. This theme has characterized many of the readings this semester; Andrew in The Bicentennial Man felt the same resistance towards his quest for equal rights and human hood. While he was more innovate and could create more advance technology, Andrew wasn’t able to become a true member of society until he agreed to die. In my interpretation, granting Andrew citizenship on his 200th birthday—which is also the day of his death—is merely a way for humans to remain on top of the food chain. Andrew may have been considered the only “human” robot, but now that he has died, the humans can go back to their normal manner of society, using robots for their own personal good and needs. Andrew’s actions may have been a win in the quest for robot citizenship, but a paradigm shift didn’t probably wouldn’t occur in that society to alter the treatment of robots. In the United States, it took years to end slavery, and we still haven’t ended racism in our society. I’m eager to keep reading and find examples of racism in future novels in the course and to witness the literary change in writing as society becomes more progressive.

Journal #3

After reading the Bicentennial Man, I was taken back at the racism presented in the story towards Andrew. While he doesn’t have the same biological make-up that humans do, he still possesses intellect, creative skill, and emotion. He even was a well respected inventor and honored scientist for his work in robobiology. Yet, besides the support from George, Paul and Little Miss, Andrew struggles to reach his goal of becoming a human in the eyes of the law, a process that takes 200 years to complete. It’s only when Andrew receives surgery to his positronic brain that forces him to die on his 200th birthday does the court and society agree to grant him citizenship and being deemed a human. Simply because he wasn’t made of cells like we humans are, Andrew was considered a lesser members of society by the government and the people. This novelette resonates currently with the social issues of today, particularly with the election of Donald Trump to the presidential office. After banning citizens from 7 countries and constantly bringing up the idea of building a wall, he has created a distinction in our social hierarchy, deeming some individuals and groups of individual unfit to enter our country simply because of differences in skin tones and culture. Just as Andrew was thought of us lesser than humans, minority groups in the US and around the world are being shunned and discriminated against for cultural practices and the destructive work of a few bad apples. The protest this morning, February 17, as well as the walk out a few weeks ago, makes me very proud of our campus and community. It’s inspiring to see students, professors, and faculty alike coming together to protest the events that have taken place in the past months as well try to think of solutions to make our school and nation a more welcoming place. It’s frightening to think that many international students from the 7 banned countries fear going home and not being allowed to return and receive an education. Students from this school probably are in a similar position, and I couldn’t imagine the stress and fear I’d being feeling in these times.

These events and the Bicentennial Man remind me of a short story I read in an English literature class last semester titled “The Appropriation of Cultures.” In the story set in the late1900s, an African American man named Daniel buys a truck with a confederate flag on the rear window. Initially, his town and community members—white and black alike—were shocked at his display of the flag, often questioning his intentions. However, Daniel sees the flag as a symbol of African American pride, and soon, the entire African American community adopts his use of the flag, displaying it on cars, at universities, and at their homes. And eventually, the symbol loses its hate, racist connotation and becomes a symbol for African Americans to rally behind, a transition that promotes the South Carolina government to finally lower the Confederate flag from their capital building. In the Bicentennial Man, Andrew embraces his role as a robot, reading literature and inventing in order to become a member of society. His desire to be human was driven by a goal of being included in society, just as the confederate flag dissipated some racial tensions and caused a more equal balance in society in “The Appropriation of Cultures.” In today’s hectic world, we need to rally together and symbolize our disgust and anger at the actions that have occurred in our country. The protest have brought us together to find solutions to make society equal for all and to have the interest of each and every human at mind when making decisions.

Journal 2

After watching the film on the 1983 Chicago World’s Fair and discussing both readings, the main ideas focus on the display of energy and power in developing societies. At the World’s fair, the displays of both Germany and the United States were teeming with military weapons and technology, hoping to demonstrate the power and prowess of each nation. As a result, most other nations, in addition to the United States and Germany, began a race to become more innovation and advanced in military technology and warfare, possibly initiating World War I far earlier than necessary. While proving to be deadly in the war, these military advancements and weapons were initially developed because “peace is kept by being prepared for war,” according to one general. This display of power by several nations at the fair serves to show the dominance and superiority that these nations are capable of. In addition to the Chicago World’s Fair, Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court portrays the use of energy and power for personal gain. With the development of technology and the improved harnessing of energy, Hank Morgan was able to develop hospitals, schools, and newspapers to improve the lives of the 6th century citizens. However, Morgan also used his superior sophistication and technological expertise to fool and gain the utmost respect from King Arthur’s court. Hank proves Merlin to be a fraud while using modern technology to fix the fountain, use guns and explosives to both harm fellow knights and for dramatic effect, and claims future inventions as his own to seem almost God-like amongst Arthur’s court. While this new harnessed energy and power led to healthier, more efficient lifestyles for the citizens of Camelot, Hank also utilized it for personal gain and greed to rise to power in the Court, viewed as almost equals to King Arthur. This display of power promotes fear and admiration to allow for the few to rise to power and control the masses. Finally, when discussing The Human Machine, the trade-off between work and leisure became a major issue in society. When looking at humans as a energy system, fatigue begins to set in after a certain amount of time, requiring rest to regain and resupply the energy. As technology began to develop, human labor became obsolete compared to the ability of machines to produce and manufacture goods. The ideal worker would never get tired, yet humans suffer from fatigue while machines can constantly conserve energy to function constantly. This harnessing of energy allowed for more leisure in everyday life and brought new goods to make life more efficient; however, on the downside, the industrial revolution and the development of new technologies paved the way for advanced warfare and dangerous technology.

Another topic of interest is the disparity of cultural and social norms amongst members of different societies or cultures. At the Chicago World’s Fair, the exotic, belly dancers covered in little clothing at the Cairo bizarre was a sight to see for the American public. Social norms in the United States at the time viewed sex as taboo. While the men were enthused by this exotic culture, the females looked upon the dancers with shame and judgment. The culture and history of Egypt stems from these roots, yet the Americans weren’t socially and sexually advanced enough to look upon the exhibit with favor. The lack of acceptance and understanding of other cultures leads to segregation and social hierarchy at the fair, marked by each nation trying to out-do one another. Similarly, in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, the disparity in social norms and practices between the 6th century and the 18th century becomes clearly evident. Hank looks down upon King Arthur’s court with shame, frustrated by their lack of hygiene and sophistication and baffled by the incompetence of the court. Morgan disregards the knights’ stories of glory and honor as false, and while he respects and likes King Arthur, he still views him as less-educated and somewhat irrational. In contrast, the members of King Arthur’s court view Hank as a God-like figure, marveled by his “magic” and his vast contributions to society. The citizens view him as infallible and treat him with the utmost respect and admiration. This disparity and cultures and social sophistication allows for Hank to basically usurp power from King Arthur and hold one of the highest positions in Camelot, a common problem when one culture views themselves as superior to one another (slavery and colonization).