Below are chapter by chapter discussion questions based on the book Films from the Future, for class and book club/reading group use.
They’re designed to kick-start interesting conversations, but are just a starting point for getting more out of the book!
- What are some of the ways in which new technologies are people’s lives today?
- How does the current speed of technology innovation present unique challenges?
- Should tech companies and scientists be doing more to innovate ethically and responsibly?
- Can art – including movies – really provide insights into the ethical development and use of new technologies?
Jurassic Park (1993)
- Is using genetic engineering to bring extinct species back a good idea?
- Should scientists be allowed to experiment with altering the genetic code of humans?
- Can experts ever completely predict the consequences of a new technology?
- Who should decide what scientists can and cannot do?
- Are rich entrepreneurs with grandiose ideas good for society?
Never Let Me Go (2010)
- How realistic is the story that evolves in Never let Me Go?
- What are the pros and cons of cloning humans?
- What makes someone genuinely “human”?
- Are there technologies that exist now that are so useful that they are too big to be allowed to fail?
Minority Report (2002)
- If scientists could develop ways of spotting potential criminals, how should they use the technology?
- Could artificial intelligence one day predict what people are going to do?
- Can machines and algorithms reflect the biases of their creators? And if so, how do we ensure that these don’t adversely affect people?
- how important is personal privacy in a world where everything’s being recorded?
- What is “intelligence?”
- Would you (or do you) use “smart drugs?” And if so, why?
- Do you think there are times and places where smart drugs should not be used?
- Who should decide who gets access to medications that can improve mental performance, and who doesn’t?
- If we could one day 3D print replacement body parts, how big of a game-changer would this be?
- How realistic is the division between rich and poor as it’s portrayed in Elysium?
- Is it better to create more jobs with some being in dangerous workplaces, or to improve workplace safety but as a result reduce the number of jobs available?
- How do you think automation will affect your life over the next 10 years?
Ghost in the Shell (1995)
- If you could enhance your body with technological implants, would you?
- Do you think we’ll ever have wireless brain-computer interfaces, and if so, is it a good idea?
- Is there a point at which replacing body parts with machines might affect how “human” someone is?
- If you have a machine in your body that you depend on, who’s responsible for keeping it going?
Ex Machina (2014)
What are some of the pros and cons of innovating without permission?
- Are “superintelligent” machines likely to emerge in the future?
- What are the most exciting and most scary aspects of artificial intelligence to you?
- What does “intelligence” mean when it applies to a machine?
- What does “technological convergence” mean?
- How important is it for everyone to ask tough questions about the impacts of new technologies?
- Is terrorism in the name of halting dangerous technologies ever justified?
- How can people sift out realistic expectations of science and technology from the hype?
The Man in the White Suit (1951)
- How could engineering materials atom by atom change the world as we know it?
- Should scientists be taught to better-understand how people and society operate?
- Are good intentions good enough in science and technology?
- How involved should members of the public be in what science is done, and how it’s used?
- Can bad movies still be useful in making sense of emerging technologies and what they might do?
- Should scientists be allowed to create deadly pathogens in the lab, and tell others how to do it?
- Do the ends ever justify the means when attempting to create a better future using science and technology?
- How can scientists be advocates and activists? Should they be?
- How fragile is the current state of the Earth’s climate?
- What does it mean to be a responsible citizen in the “anthropocene?”
- Is it better to try and maintain the Earth as it is, or ensure it is resilient to change?
- Should we use geoengineering to intentionally manipulate the Earth’s climate?
- Are religious beliefs and science mutually incompatible?
- How important is belief important in science, and why?
- Is Occam’s Razor a useful concept for separating out likely possibilities around emerging technologies from improbable ones?
- How are people likely to react if we we discover life on another world?
- Is technology innovation a force for good or bad in society?
- Who’s responsible for ensuring science and technology benefit as many people as possible?
- What can you do to ensure that science and technology are used to create a better future?
- What emerging technologies most excite you
- What emerging technologies most concern you?