Monday, September 04, 2006

The Lost Wisdom

Last night I watched a sci-fi classic Jurassic Park with some friends. If you've never seen it, stop reading this and go watch it. Overwise, I ask you to remember the story, and thus the message of the movie.

The company InGen develops a way to clone dinosaurs which they do with great enthusiasim. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldbloom) plays a mathmatician specializing in chaotic systems (better known as dynamic systems). He argues InGene is getting into nasty territory. Nature cannot be controlled and those that lack humility for natural forces will regret it. Malcolm's prophecies come true, not because the dinosaurs rebel against man but because the computer programmer--Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight)--shuts down the park so he can steal important research to sell to InGen's competition. Havoc ensues.

The movie implies scientists should have a moral code, asking not just if something is possible but if they should even try to make it happen. (See earlier post on the subject here.) Dinosaurs, being seperated by humanity for 65 million years, should not be cloned because "nature" never intended the two species to intermingle. Over and over, we here the characters say this is "too much" and "too far" and the chaos that follows seems to prove their concerns.

But wasn't really cloning dinosaurs that was dangerous. It was cloning agressive dinosaurs while, at the same time, giving one person the power to shut down all security measures if he wished. If there were only herbivores on the island, it wouldn't be much of a deal that Nedry shut down the park. Hammond built so much in such a way that collapse was inevitable and so everyone else then makes the mistaken conclusion that we shouldn't build at all.

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