The genetics of an influential monster, and Artificial Intelligence

The Stereotype of a Frankenstein Science and the A.G.I.

The idea of having a representation between different types of scientists has often been well portrayed in both fiction and science fiction books alike. This also includes the medium of stories, tales and more popularly, throughout the film industry. In the reading “Representations of Scientists” by Roslynn Haynes, one can comprehend a clear understanding of the fundamental variances in stereotypical scientists which are demonstrated as: The Alchemist, The Stupid Virtuoso, The Romantic Depiction of the Unfeeling Scientist, The Heroic Adventurer, The Helpless Scientist, and The Scientist as an Idealist. Each stereotypical scientist plays a crucial role as to how popular culture may perceive the personality of most scientists. Enough so that unsuspecting audiences may perceive “a scientist” as though they are mere characters working to discover the ultimate truth. These stereotypical roles often given to scientists play to marginalize them and restrict the true state of a scientist. Hollywood does a fantastic job at giving scientists these stereotypes.

One example that Mary Shelley provides in regards to the “Hollywood scientist stereotype”, as described in her book “Frankenstein”, is the idea of a Mad Scientist, who has the knowledge, capacity and resources readily available to create the impossible; something truly mad – such as a hacked up reincarnation of a deceased human. This is of course not truthful. There are certainly many scientists, like any other profession, holding “mad” as a personality trait onto their career choice – whether it is an attorney, a professional roller skater, or a poker player. Generally, an individual whose ambitions reach far above the societal deviation of standard goal setting may become differentiated among all the others and be considered, mad.

Although Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is an adequate example of what the representation of a scientist may be, perhaps a more modern, more realistic rendition of this classic story is that of Artificial Intelligence and the human-mechanical hybrid, better known as “Transhumanism”. Transhumanism is the humanistic state in which a homo sapien has essentially maximized its physical or intellectual capability, and is otherwise hacked by assistance devices such as hydraulics to enhance a sapiens strength, or a theoretical memory chip inserted into the brains as a means to assist in cognitive memory. In fact, many ideas that have become realistic today have certainly been previously conceptualized as science fiction designed by free-thinking artists such as Mary Shelley.

Furthermore, Artificial Intelligence is another such example in which the representation of a scientists can be greatly considered as being “Mad”. Like in many occasional historical examples, most known or new technological furtherances being introduced into society are often seen as hostile, threatening or outright dangerous (eg. Artificial Intelligence). This is sparked by grossly inaccurate and unreliable storytelling that was popularized by books or movies. Artificial Intelligence has to overcome the stereotype of popular films (Terminator and Skynet), which are completely inaccurate in the direction they are being designed to for-take. The representational type of scientist that has the capacity to conceive of creating a model as dangerous as A.I. will certainly be incorrectly flagged as “Mad”. This is unfortunate because this has limiting factors to the true purpose of the aforementioned “Mad” scientist’s in their research pursuit within A.I. to create the next evolution.This can hinder the speed in which an A.I. scientist is to discover an unlimiting of the organic road blocks placed forth onto us by mother nature and our physical bodies. There are, of course, those who intrinsically reject anything that doesn’t come about naturally, as the small percentage of deviation from most other representations or measurements.



Peg Lamphier, Ph.D. Arizona State University
Visions of Science and Technology

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