biology, genetic modification, Opinion, Opinion piece, Robotics, Science, Science and society, science fiction, SF and science

Franken fears, Franken futures, part 1

It’s the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s hugely influential Frankenstein this year, which numerous news outlets are obviously picking up on. If you’ve never read it, do; it’s astounding, even today. (I’d recommend the first edition, as being more forceful than later editions). I’ll consider a few thoughts on the fears it still touches on today, then move onto the science of how we might replace human parts, or the whole, in part 2. Continue reading

Advertisements
Book review, Opinion, Philosophy, Science, science fiction

The Universal Consents of Things: Francis Bacon’s visions of the future

I thought I’d take a scenic diversion from more modern science fiction, and touch upon some far older predictions of future science: those found in the works of the early 17th century statesman Francis Bacon, justly famous for his works on improving human knowledge, and considered an early “modern” scientist. I’m focusing on his 1626 Utopian fable, New Atlantis (which may be downloaded for free from Project Gutenberg here). This uncompleted piece, in which he outlines the plans for a scientific research institute (“Salomon’s house”), is interesting enough just for that, but there are some prescient and occasionally astonishing predictions for future science in there as well, both as descriptions of what the inhabitants of his imaginary island are engaged in researching, and as possible future projects, which is what I’ll be looking at.

Continue reading