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Frankenstein: Abandonment Essay - Words | Bartleby
We will try and respond to your request as soon as reasonably practical. When you receive the information, if you think any of it is wrong or out of date, you can ask us to change or delete it for you. An original French billboard poster for Frankenstein by artist Jacques Faria Public Domain. Eileen Hunt Botting.
Brought to you by Curio , an Aeon partner. Edited by Sam Haselby. Though issued with some irony, this title suited the creature just fine. Hidden in computer consoles and in the shadows of the world wide web, from Moscow to Palo Alto, AI is growing stronger, faster, smarter and more dangerous than its clever programmers. It will eventually emerge — like a ghost from its machine — to destroy its makers and the whole of humanity.
As with Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus , apocalyptic media concerning AI relies for its big scare on the domestic conventions of gothic literature. The robots will rise up to destroy the world and your precious privacy at home. Cue Alexa, the Amazonian robot who knows every matter of your personal taste. She orchestrates with music the organisation of your family life according to your — or rather, her — wishes.
But in the case of AI, who was responsible for the damage? I blame technology! If Frankenstein can be perplexed about to what extent he or humanity is responsible for the making of a monstrous intelligence, then so can we feel muddled. What forms of intelligence have we humans actually made that could put us at such grave moral fault? Intelligence — whether construed as natural or artificial — is adaptive to a situation.
Chollet reminds us, too, that people are a product of their own tools. Akin to how early hominins used fire or etched seashells, modern humans have used pens, printing presses, books and computers to process data and solve problems related to their particular circumstances. Science and technology are two defining artefacts of modern human civilisation. From this long view of humanity, anthropology shows that civilisation itself is a kind of AI: a collective set of tools developed over time and through cultures, equipping people to learn from the past for the benefit of life in myriad forms, present and future.
Artificial general intelligence AGI is future AI that might exhibit general intelligence, including consciousness. Are we, like Frankenstein, setting into motion maniacally smart devices of our own demise? Deep learning DL is a subset of ML, in which multiple levels of models work together at more complex tasks, with each level of model relying on outputs from a prior level to perform a higher-level function.
For example, to recognise a handwritten number, a deep-learning algorithm might have a first level to identify where on a page there is writing, a second level to identify edges based on the patterns of the writing, a third level to identify shapes based on the placement of the edges, and a fourth level to identify the number based on the combination of shapes.
With the advent of ML and some forms of DL, are we, like Frankenstein, setting into motion maniacally smart devices of our own demise? Shelley imagined such a scenario, and so do some contemporary computer scientists. In the cybernetic community, the moment projected in the near future when AGI matches then surpasses the intelligence of humanity is known as the singularity. It marks one fleeting point in time when humans will be equal in intelligence to AGI, then upholds it as unique in its world-historical significance.
AGI will press on, unstoppable, to reign as the victor over its human artificers. The singularity is a Silicon Valley revival of Hegelian end-of-history, outfitted in grey T-shirts and hoodies. It predicts the eclipse of human intelligence by the machines who learned from the best of it. The singularity feels religious, even mystical.
The creation of Frankenstein
It limns the meeting of all-knowing gods and their half-human offspring, standing with dignity — if only briefly — on equally high ground. Sprung from the head of Zeus, the goddess of wisdom Athena led the titan Prometheus up Mount Olympus to steal fire for humanity. The singularity is the 21st-century iteration of this myth. It foresees humanity looking into an electric-wired thing that looks right back at it.
Believers in the singularity often cite the wisdom of the late English physicist Stephen Hawking. AI could be good, bad or neutral for humanity. The consequences of AI are fundamentally unknowable beforehand. Like all great literature, Frankenstein resists reduction to simplistic moralism, such as the danger of playing God through science. The reward of reading it is putting the pieces together to see the whole. One primary transgression is one of abandonment. In the novel, Victor Frankenstein sets out to explore experimental and questionable scientific principles in order to try and create a new kind of being.
His scientific experiment is a success when he creates a composite creature of various human parts. On the other hand, however, so is exploration, of both Victor and the creature itself-posing important questions of responsibility and consequence. The family, central to the upbringing of children, is responsible for the socialization of future generations. It could be suggested that Victor would have been wise to model his parental duties after those of his own parents. His parents exhibited a high level of devotion to him and his siblings.
He treated his wife well and worked hard to shelter her. Victor, unfortunately, fails to realize his responsibility and obligation toward his own creation, the consequences of this error are nothing short of a series of tragedies. On the other hand, his character is perceived by the monster through his view of Victor as merely a cold creator and an unloving abandoner.
The creature was initially very confused. The reader experiences a sense of empathy for the monster, especially in regard to when he sees his own reflection in a pool of water. Victor created a monster and left it to fend for itself in a world in which he does not belong, and it is therefore Victor who is responsible for the misery and thus the evilness of his own creation. He knows he is being excluded, and despite being considered hideous, he is intelligent and seeks acceptance, but is rejected first by his creator, and again by the peasant family, who he learns to talk and interact with people from watching.
But when the monster approaches the peasant family, hoping for friendship, they beat him and chase him away. Even though it was too late for Victor himself to benefit from the lesson he learned, he wanted to pass his learning on to someone else. Too late to be a good example, Victor intends to pass on a warning to Walton.
For most of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the family functioned as both a social and economic unit. Sometimes the economic unit, however, took precedence over well-being of the children. For example, every part of the family was considered important for production and consumption. Thus, children were often sent away to earn money for their families, sometimes to different households. Women were often subordinate to men as girls were less valued within the family unit than girls were.
In this time, attitudes towards children and child-rearing were very different. A high infant mortality rate was to blame for a lot of this behavior. This level of emotional detachment was quite common.
The Mortality of Maternity: A Defense for Victor Frankenstein
With a lack emotional attachment towards children, coupled with parental neglect and abandonment of children, the welfare of children and families was placed on the backburner in lieu of commercial progress that was being made within this time period. Children were sometimes made to work in factories, performing tasks that were suited for the small frames and hands of children. It was not uncommon for kids to become seriously injured while on the job and then quickly replaced with another child, without attachment, nor medical or financial compensation.
Respect for human life and dignity was at the mercy of progress and advancement. Fortunately, significant and long-lasting positive changes took place in the family during the nineteenth century.
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Families became more tied together by emotional bonds and family units became more child-centered throughout time.
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