Volume 2, Issue 1 
1st Quarter, 2007

The Ethics of Imagination:
The Space Between Your Ears

Wrye Sententia, Ph.D.

Page 4 of 6

At a cellular level, the cells take over the biological and social environments to which they are exposed, much like a virus.  However, they radically restructure the human race in an evolutionary scenario, and in this scenario, humanity is corralled from its separate, autonomous beings, into an intelligent biomass.

It ends up becoming this sort of sheeny, phosphorescent, consciousness skin that spreads out over all of North America, covering the entire planet and eventually floating off into space as a conscious, thinking membrane.

Now, this is exactly the kind of scary scenario that Joachim Schumer has cited in his recent book that just came out a couple months ago.  He’s documented that it's just such grand; far-flung visions of nanotechnology that people mainly associate with the science, and which fascinates them, but also terrifies them.

Most science fiction commentators on Blood Music see this as a horror story of technology run amuck.  For example, Dan Danillo writes:  "Greg Bear’s Blood Music takes the horror of exponentially, self replicating, intelligent nanomachines to its ultimate extreme, the termination of the natural world.”[1]

However, I think it is just such a radically other vision, through the perspective and acceptance of such a vastly different form of technohuman existence in a fictional future that provides a safe and useful way for the public to entertain the possibility of future social and ethical implications of new technologies in a non-threatening way.

Such a story as Blood Music invites readers to reassess their own position or perspective; stretching not their skin, but their consciousness.  With Blood Music, where it asks to consider what is the high price of such a transition of fully integrated, interactive, and a harmonious smart culture; loss of individuality, the loss of self, but also the loss of selfishness.

At the same time that there's this negative depiction, readers of Blood Music are also invited to entertain the idea of this ever-expanding cellular colony of the next, or even desirable step, an evolutionary step, for the human species.

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1. Daniel Dinello – author of Technophobia! Science Fiction Visions of Posthuman Technology books.google.com February 12, 2007 1:15 pm EST



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