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Analysis of Jurassic Park: The Dangers of Technology and Gene Manipulation

Jurassic Park is a thrilling science fiction novel series that brings humans face to face with live dinosaurs and explores the possibilities of bringing extinct animals back to life. The novel is arguably Michael Crichton's most famous and popular work. It is often used as a cautionary tale about the dangers of manipulating nature and genetics, along the same themes as Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, and foreshadows the problems with dependence on technology.

The novel and the character Ian Malcolm popularized the Chaos Theories, which state that the cause and effect in nature cannot always be predicted because behaviors are random. Technology cannot be completely controlled by humans because things (such as computer viruses) are bound to go wrong. The most popular branch of the chaos theory is the Butterfly Effect. The Butterfly Effect states the idea that one butterfly could eventually have a far-reaching snowballing effect on subsequent historic events. For example, if a butterfly flapped its wings a certain way, the wings could have created a breeze that could have impacted the wind flow and caused a forest fire to destroy a town. While the flapping wings did not cause the fire, the small change in the initial condition of the system (forest fire), which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale alterations of events.


The novel also suggests the potential dangers of technology. Hammond wants to park to be as efficient as possible, so he creates a computer system that will control everything. This way he can save money because he won't have to hire as many employees. Malcolm, however, warns Hammond that the Park is doomed because of the chaos theory, and that technology is unreliable. Jurassic Park, was written in 1990 in the middle of a technology boom. The entire world became interested and invested in computers to make their lives more efficient. The novel was written ten years before the feared "Y2K Bug" that had computer technicians and computerized industries preparing for the end of the world. Crichton explores what might happen if suddenly all the computers stopped working and crashed. After Nedry deactivates the security system, he causes a huge computer crash that threatens everyone's lives in the park. Malcolm's chaos theories and predictions come true and everything falls apart as the dinosaurs escape and attack the humans trapped on the island. Malcolm predicted that a complex system like Jurassic Park cannot be controlled; something unexpected is bound to arise and there will not be any way to avoid the problem. Crichton worries and foreshadows the dangers of singularity and what could happen if machine or technology intelligence surpasses human intelligence. Just because supercomputers exist does not mean that humans should use that it.

By the end of the twentieth century, technology had become popular in the average household, and many people were familiar with computers. Science had already developed medicine, antibiotics, genetics, and had just discovered a frozen intact mammoth carcass. The stem cell and genetic cloning debate was only beginning. Crichton was skeptical of gene maniuplation and foreshadows the dangers with altering nature. Crichton's statement about humanity's desire to control natural selection is not optimistic. Most of the research and cloning of the dinosaurs is performed by computers, not by humans. Thus, the humans have no knowledge of what they are manipulating. This ignorance of genes and natural selection creates problems, especially when Grant realizes the dinosaurs are reproducing. Crichton is suggesting that humans do not know enough about genetics, and should leave nature alone. When humans manipulate the gene pools, mutations occur and species change. Just seven years after Jurassic Park was published in 1990, British scientists successfully cloned the first sheep, Dolly. The success of the cloned sheep raised all sorts of ethical and moral questions. If sheep are cloned, what's to stop the scientists from cloning humans? Do the clones have the same feelings, memories, and emotions as the host? Jodi Picult’s controversial 2004 novel My Sister’s Keeper continued the theme of cloning. She raised the issue of parents creating designer babies for medical purposes. Is it moral? Do the clones have any rights? Crichton's novel exposed the average person to genetic manipulation and cloning  for the first time by the process of brining dinosaurs back to life. While dinosaurs have not yet been brought back, eventually extinct animals could be. Will it moral to bring them back? That debate has not yet begun.


In a speech to congress in September 2006, Crichton urged the statesmen to leave genetics alone. He claims that genes are a part of nature, and no one should have to power to own them. He demands, "we have plenty of evidence that today, gene patents are bad practice, harmful and dangerous. End the practice now." He continues and says, "It's all a mess. And it's a dangerous mess….We need added legislation to clarify a legal conception of human tissues and how they are used. Federal rules already exist, but the courts are ignoring those rules, and are confused because they are trying to reason based on prior property law....We need clear laws." He compares donating organs/genes to having his picture taken. If his picture is taken, he has control over how his picture is used and his image is portrayed. However, once he donates an organ, he has no control over how it is used. He states that hospitals and legislation need to be clearer and if a person donates tissue for a certain purpose—say a kidney transplant—the organ should be used for that purpose only, and the donator must give explicit permission. Continuing, Crichton mentions that gene manipulation and patents discourage research. The lack of thorough research increases ignorance and mistakes are more plausible, creating dangerous and unethical situations for everyone.




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