Sunday, November 15, 2009

GATTACA-The Ethical Dilemma of Science

Andrew Niccol’s 1997 science fiction film, Gattaca is a futuristic drama about the impact of genetic engineering and its role in developing social inequality. In the film, geneticists have the ability to engineer both physical and behavioral characteristics in pre-natal babies. As for babies conceived without the aid of genetic enhancement, they come into the world already at a great disadvantage. THERE IS NO ONE GENE FOR THE SOUL AND SPIRT OF A HUMAN.

Gattaca has so far presented a very realistic foresight into the future of technology and communication. The film portrays the future technology of space travel with missions extending as far out in our solar system as Saturn. Gattaca also describes that the future will be orientated around surveillance communication and technology. In the film, Gattaca Aerospace Corporation employees come into work everyday and pass through a genetic registry database that takes tiny samples of their DNA. Everyone and everything in life is recognized through DNA, future surveillance can know everything about you from a single strand of hair. In 1997, when this film was created, this technology may have seemed to be somewhat far-fetched, yet today biometric authentication is no longer science fiction its reality. The film also illustrates that the future of technology will be within the realm of genetic science.

Gattaca challenges the idea that technology brings people closer. Genetic engineering technology created just the opposite, social inequality. The prevalence of genetic alteration in Gattaca generates a division of social class. The genetic registration database processes DNA samples as either “valid” or “invalid”. Genetically engineered DNA appears labeled as “valid” while people like Vincent, who where conceived without any genetic enhancements are labeled as “invalid”. The “invalids” are seen as second-class citizens despite laws against genetic discrimination. The genetically superior discriminate on genetically inferior. In the introduction of the film a quote by William Gaylin is displayed stating, “I not only think we will tamper with Mother Nature. I think Mother wants us to”. This quote directly corresponds with Thomas Hughes’s ideology of the human-built world. Gattaca epitomizes the concept of the second creation, humans constructing other genetically flawless humans in the quest to create a perfect utopia.

Niccol foresaw the future in his science fiction film as being a human-built world controlled by technological surveillance. Today, Niccol’s foresight into the future has proven to coincide with modern day reality. In the film, Vincent is under constant surveillance. As technology progresses, methods of surveillance will also progress.

Genetic engineering is an extremely controversial issue today. It raises real ethical questions dealing with free will and religion. In the start of the film Vincent explains his parents religious reasoning for avoiding genetic modification. Even though Vincent was just another “invalid” human in the eyes of the genetically superior, he pushed through and succeeded even when the genetically bless Jerome had failed. “There is no gene for the human sprit”

By Casey Baker

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