Gattaca

Vincent states in the movie that “it’s illegal to discriminate – ‘genoism’ it’s called – but no one takes the laws seriously.” This is, in fact, one of the standard criticisms of genetic profiling: if we have genetic data on people, then employers or insurance companies will use that data to minimize financial risk. Assuming that this will be true, would the benefits of genetic profiling still outweigh the costs?

First off, why do the employers and the insurance companies get access to this kind of information?  Isn’t the main reason that this occurs in Gattaca because employers and insurance companies have access to that information, so if they don’t get ahold of the data then they can’t discriminate against anybody.  If the companies to get this ability then there are no benefits to genetic profiling because it dehumanizes people and while this is common in modern society, especially towards peoples on the fringes, it would become more mainstream if this data was more widespread.  This wider dispersal of knowledge about who is altered and who isn’t is also more available to the public because the insurance companies and employers could be hacked and the information leaked to the public.  This leak of information could lead to a wave of public hysteria and anger, which could lead to an attack on one of the two groups of people.  Also if there were no insurance companies than there is no chance for discrimination, especially if healthcare is paid through low co-pays, when you see a physician for annual checkups or dentists, and by taxes for the more important things such as cancer or a heart attack, then nobody but your doctors have the information, and  then there is no discrimination.  I am confused on why the idea of genetic profiling has to be an issue, and why in the future the current status quo must be followed?  There is the idea that with genetic profiling jobs will become more specialized, and minimalized.  This can be a debilitating development because it means that people can not pursue their dreams if they do not meet the genetic requirements.  This can also lead to children being forced down paths that they do not wish to follow, such as a child who was altered to be an amazing athlete but wants to be an artist instead, is possibly being forced down the path of an athlete against their will.  Genetic profiling could lead to the development of a slave society or a society with distinctive castes because one section of humanity is biologically superior to others within the same society.  This could lead a scenario similar to Khan in Star Trek, where biologically engineered people rise up to create nations full of people similar to them, that leads to massively destructive wars between “super” humans and “regular” humans.  Genetic profiling brings about the discussion of what makes a human a human, and are there requirements that need to be met?  The necessity of requirements would begin a process of large-scale dehumanization that might lead to resentment and eventually violence and repression that could lead to large-scale conflicts.  As stated above there are no benefits to genetic profiling because it will only lead to violence and hatred.  And for examples, we simply need to look to the recent past and to contemporary events to see that profiling is not a positive.  Looking to Gattaca for examples also produces a supply that shows that genetic profiling does not improve society, it simply just limits societal aspects to being acceptable for either the edited or unedited humans.Wouldn’t every parent want to ensure that their child was perfect and had the attributes of physical attractiveness, intelligence and athletic prowess to be able to do whatever he or she wanted in life? If so, why is the society portrayed in this film so devoid of happiness, vitality, and fun?

Wouldn’t every parent want to ensure that their child was perfect and had the attributes of physical attractiveness, intelligence and athletic prowess to be able to do whatever he or she wanted in life? If so, why is the society portrayed in this film so devoid of happiness, vitality, and fun?

Not every parent would want their child to be perfect because then their child is just like every other child and in no way will develop into their own person.  I personally would not want my child to be perfect because then they can not become themselves and are going to be forced from path to path without any self-determination.  This self-determination is something that makes humans human, and taking this away is a brilliant way to dehumanize people, especially when they are growing up.  I also feel that I would not want my child to be perfect because then where is the challenge of raising a child, where is the joy of watching them become who they want to be?  I personally want to be challenged by my children, and I want to experience joy at seeing them succeed, when they are not perfect, especially if they beat people who are considered perfect while they do it too.  I don’t know I guess I’m just being sentimental, but I think that it is better to succeed without being predestined to succeed than to follow the path set by societal expectations.  The society in the film is portrayed as so devoid because since everyone is the same they all think along the same line and have become fleshy robots that are so focused on work.  The lack of difference among the populace also means that there is little variation in the day to day that would provide a distraction from the daily grind.  Society in the movie is also so devoid because there is no joy at success.  There is no joy because of being wired to be successful the people take no joy in completing difficult tasks because they already believe that they will succeed, and thus they don’t receive joy.  This lack of joy is also dehumanizing as well.

Community

  • Do I foster an atmosphere conducive to open dialogue, listening carefully to others and opening myself to opinions different from my own?

I try to foster an atmosphere that is conducive to open dialogue, but there are times where I simply don’t listen and open myself up to opinions that differ from my own.   I only do this when listening to those opinions could lead to the destruction of community, such as nativistic, nationalistic, racist views, i.e., beliefs that compromise safety and wellbeing.  These are the views that I was referring to in class when I asked if all views deserve to be included in the community, because these beliefs advocate the complete opposite of a community based on Quaker values, and can pose a threat to the safety of the community.  Also in my opinion listening to these views, could be taken as a validation of those views.  This is not to say that I don’t hear these views for I certainly do, but listening and hearing are two different things.  Moving on though, I do try to foster an atmosphere that is conducive to open dialogue and to do that I sometimes find that during some dialogue all of the views are somewhat similar, and the discussion is just running around in a circle, basically giving affirmations.  This leads me to try and play the devil’s advocate by bringing up an aspect of the discussion that has differing opinions or will start a new train of conversation that will result in a deeper discussion as more opinions become defined.  The redirecting of a stagnating discussion, also allows for more opinions to be included, because as dialogue stagnates it, in my view, can stop being open.  This closing of the conversation could be caused by people viewing the dialogue as boring because it is not sparking a will to discuss.  When I open myself to opinions that differ from mine, I constantly try to remain as passive as possible, because this allows me to not feel personally attacked, and I also can try to remove my bias from questions, that I ask.  Though I don’t go looking for open dialogue, because I find that it takes to much time to fit it into a normal schedule, and I do not want to do anything but think afterward, so I just lose all of my productivity.  I also don’t go looking for it because of its possible that the discussion will turn into a yelling match, and that disturbs the community, and just makes people angry at each other, which is never productive.  I  do listen carefully to others because that is the only way to be respectful of their opinions unless I don’t respect their opinion, then I don’t listen, but those situations were covered above.  Listening also helps one to formulate their own opinions better, because even by just thinking of a response they are forced to flush out their opinion by questioning whether or not they agree with what was said.

Peace & Justice

I think about power, for who holds it, and how much affects our day to day lives.  But first let’s discuss my use of power, for I don’t see myself as using much power because it’s not up to me to influence people one way or another, that’s for them to do themselves.  I don’t use my power for anything, but that’s because I find it unnecessary.  I find it unnecessary because to reach the just and constructive ends, influencing and coercing people to help achieve the end doesn’t justify that people could have been participating against their will, and this is no better than what we are fixing.  Now on who should have power, it should be vested in individuals who are incorruptible, but as that is not possible, it should get invested in either a large group or one corrupted person.  In the democratic society everyone needs to have an equal say, and thus the all the various levels and directions of corruption are counteracted.  If all the power gets invested in one single person who is corrupt, then they are easier to control.  This unscrupulous individual can be managed to benefit society if they believe that benefitting society helps them as well.  Power should only get used to benefit the community, as Spock says “the needs of the many out way the needs of the few,” yet this principle is quite the controversial idea because it leaves open to interpretation who are the few and who are many.  Power should also not get granted to anyone with religious views or even personal views that could harm the majority of people, such as restricting access to abortions.  This brings about the idea of who determines this and again the corruptibility of humans gets brought up and how At some piont it might become necessary and possibly even better to place power into the circuits of a massive supercomputer that can process everything that is happening in the world and decide how best to proceed.  The supercomputer theory meets is own issues though, because the computer might follow the path of all of the pop culture supercomputers that have determined that the best way to save humanity is to end it.  But this brings up an interesting idea, what if those computers were partially right, and that humanity has too much power.  Maybe we as a species need to reduce our size or at least stop increasing in population size, and reevalute.  This re-evaluation could be a positive by giving everybody a choice in how power should get distributed, and the U.N. should conduct this, and again Spock’s words echo true.  The needs of the many for a balance of power that suits everybody outweighs various peoples desires to be superior to others, this would also cause some countries to be held responsible for crimes against humanity that came from an abuse of the power given to them to help maintain global peace.  But in the end, the end never justifies the means, so maybe the computers are right.

Respect for Persons

When I express my disagreement I don’t always do it explicitly and respectfully, but more times out of not its respectful, if not explicit.  I generally don’t express my disagreement explicitly, for the simple reason that it is hard to communicate thoughts at times.  The respectful part is generally easy, but it does involve work. This work includes understanding the position of the people, there is also an understanding of the topic being discussed, and an understanding of your own position that you created for yourself. This understanding of the opposing viewpoint(s) is done through investigation and discovery.  This needs to be done through the use of reliable and trustworthy sources, that have been independently verified.  The knowledge of the topic being discussed also needs to be researched in a similar manner, but the knowledge also needs to be from an unbiased source along with the requirements from the research into the opposing viewpoints.  Your own personal views should be wholly your’s, and entirely uninfluenced by anybody else, and this can be done by looking into the issue from unbiased, and reliable resources.  The respectful part gets harder when there is pushback against your opinion, especially if the other person feels as if they themselves are being personally attacked.  This can result in the respect going out of the window because when one person feels attacked, they could begin to attack the other side.  This attack will create a feedback loop that results in a downward spiral, that could result in an irreparable gap between the viewpoints.  Generally, these come rather easy to me in my opinion because I quite like to stay informed on the state of the world, and on new developments in general ( but new developments that I find pertinent to me).  I also find it rather easy to remain visibly calm, for the most part, when my position starts to be attacked because I know that I and my positions are different beings/ entities.  Being explicit is not the easiest because to me it requires having an idea of what you are going to say ahead of the discussion, but most discussions do not happen at prearranged times and places.  Also, the explicit nature of the discussion can be hampered by ones attempts to be eloquent or use rather large and fancy language to make their argument more appealing.  This can hamper the discussion by one side feeling as though they’re not as sophisticated and thus they begin to attack the other side on a more personal level that can again lead to the downward spiral.  I personally am, at times, guilty of using large and fancy language, not necessarily eloquent language though, to express my opinion by I do not do this with the purpose of angering or making the other side feel superior.  I do this because that is the way I talk and express my opinions.  I also don’t speak explicitly, in general, because I don’t generally plan most of what I say in advance, I simply create a general idea, and make sure that what I say won’t piss anybody off, or get me in trouble.