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Man or Manufactured?
Redefining Humanity
Through Biopunk
Narratives
Prepared by Dhatri Parmar
Roll Number : 6
Enrollment Number : 5108230032
Semester : 2
Batch : 2023-2025
Paper no : 107
Paper Name : 20th Cen Lit-1 (1950 - 2000)
Submitted to : S. B. Gardi Department of English. Maharaja
Krishnakumarsinhji Bhavnagar University
Date : 06 April 2024
Email ID: dhatriparmar291@gmail.com
Introduction
● The concept of "biopunk" has emerged as a compelling
subgenre within science fiction, exploring the fusion of
biology and technology through narratives that
challenge traditional notions of humanity.
● The literary and cinematic works of 1984, Ex Machina,
Blade Runner, and The Creator (2023) redefine
humanity through their biopunk narratives.
● These stories raise questions about the ethical
implications of technological advancements in the
realms of bioengineering and artificial intelligence.
How do biopunk narratives depict and explore
the blurring of distinctions between naturally
born humans and manufactured beings,
specifically examining the themes of
consciousness, agency, and personhood, and
what are the ethical implications and societal
consequences of these portrayals?
Question
● Cyberpunk emerged in the early 1980s as a
postmodern form of science fiction in which the
events take place partially or entirely within the
“virtual reality” formed by computers or computer
networks, in which the characters may be humans,
or aliens, or artificial intelligences. (Wilson)
● Biopunk includes bio-hackers, biotech
megacorporations, and oppressive government
agencies that manipulate human DNA.
● Examines the dark side of genetic engineering and
represents the low side of biotechnology.(Simut)
Cyberpunk
● “Biopunk Dystopias" suggests biology drives scientific
progress.
● With focus on genetic engineering post Human Genome
Project-Francis S. Collins (1990-2003), societal shifts
towards a "liquid modernity," and rethinking humanity
in a posthuman era, it introduces "biopunk." (Schmeink
#)
● Key themes : Human enhancement, bioengineering,
corporate control, and the blurring of boundaries
between natural and artificial life.
● These narratives challenge our understanding of what it
means to be human.
Defining Biopunk
● Biopunk shifts focus from cyber technologies to biological
manipulation, emphasizing genetic engineering and
hybridizing life forms.
● 21st century sci-fi explores biotechnology, rather than
cyberpunk's obsession with cybernetic implants and digital
worlds.
● This transition happened alongside biology becoming a
major scientific frontier, public awareness of genetics after
the Human Genome Project, theories about our modern
"liquid" era of rapid change, and ideas about the posthuman
condition.(Schmeink)
Transition from Cyberpunk to Biopunk:
● Schmeink says biopunk fiction often imagines "critical dystopias" - dark future
worlds where posthuman beings (like genetically engineered creatures) emerge
from the problems of the present day.
● The unpredictable nature of these engineered life forms also challenges traditional
views of what it means to be human.
● So while being critical of ethics issues, biopunk stories still contain a kernel of
utopian hope for redefining human existence beyond current limits. (Schmeink)
Biopunk Narratives as Critical Dystopias:
From Newspeak to "Bio-Newspeak" - Exploring Biopunk
Dystopias through Orwell's Lens
● Orwell's Newspeak showed how controlling language/information
shapes reality
● In 1984, Party used Newspeak to restrict free thought
● Party's propaganda/conditioning = Metaphorical "re-engineering"
of human biology
● Surveillance state and "thoughtcrime" = Warnings about biotech for
totalitarian control
● Policing thoughts could relate to future brain-modifying biotech
● Biopunk extends to controlling "language" of life itself via
biotechnology
● Recreating "biotech Newspeak" by rewriting genetic codes(“Cyberpunk,
Orwellian Fears, and the Faces of Tyranny”)(Claude AI)
● Genetic manipulation could create "celibacy group"
● Limiting cognition, emotion, sexuality
● Robbing free will by altering biological core of human
experience
● Ultimate lack of privacy and alienation.
● Even your genes/biology a rewritable script
● Humanity's core code made "untrustworthy" Controlling
the Body
● Not just restricting words/facts, but subjugating biology
itself
● Molecular bondage and human re-encoding as new mode
of oppression(“Cyberpunk, Orwellian Fears, and the Faces of
Tyranny”)(Claude AI)
Continue…
Blade Runner: A Biopunk Exploration of Humanity
● Bioengineering as the Central Conflict: The creation and control of
Replicants, bioengineered beings with near-human capabilities. Hallmark of
biopunk.
● The Blurring of Human and Machine: Replicants possess implanted
memories and engineered bodies, raising questions about what defines
humanity.
● The Ethics of Engineered Life: Ethical implications of creating and
manipulating sentient beings. Should Replicants have rights? Is their lifespan
a form of slavery?
● The Black Market for Organs by the Tyrell Corporation.(Potter)(“Gemini”)(Scott)
Biopunk elements in Ex Machina:
● Bioengineered being: Ava, the robot, is an advanced AI housed in a
human-like body.
● Human and machine: Relationship between Caleb, a human, and Ava, the
machine. A core question is whether Ava can achieve consciousness, a
biopunk trope that blurs the lines between human and machine.
● Unethical experimentation: Nathan, the creator, designed Ava and keeps
her confined for testing. This raises bio-ethical questions about creating
artificial life and its treatment.
● Sexualization of bioengineered being(Corliss)
● This aligns with Sennah Yee's critique of how even films that challenge
the male gaze can fall back on sexualizing non-human female
characters.(“Contemporary Representations of Artificial Intelligence in Science
Fiction Films, Visual Arts and Literature. A Short Introduction”)(Garland)
A Biopunk Exploration Wrapped in Sci-Fi The Creator
● An AI created by the US detonates a nuclear bomb, sparking a war
between AI-fearing Western nations and AI-embracing New Asia.
● The US seeks to eliminate "Nirmata," the architect behind New Asia's
AI, and the weapon Alpha-O (potentially controlled by AI).
● Engineered Beings: "simulants," human-like robots with advanced
capabilities, the child with telekinetic abilities created by Nirmata, is a
prime example of bioengineered life.
● Weaponization of Bioengineering: Alpha-O, the weapon the US fears,
is likely a bioengineered entity. This highlights a core biopunk
concern: the ethical implications of weaponizing engineered
lifeforms.(Ide and Mukherjee) (Edwards)
Continue…
● Coexistence of Man and Machine: Peaceful coexistence
between humans and bioengineered beings like simulants.
● The Ethics of AI sentience: Questions about the sentience and
rights of AI. Alphie's emotional depth and telekinesis challenge
the definition of "human" and spark discussions about the ethical
treatment of sentient beings created through bioengineering.
● The Dangers of Biowarfare: The film's central conflict
originates from the devastating nuclear detonation caused by an
AI. Bioengineered weapons falling into the wrong hands.(Bradshaw
and Akbar)
Conclusion
● Biopunk narratives delve into the ethical complexities of
bioengineering, forcing us to question what defines humanity
in a world.
● Yet, these stories also offer a glimpse of a hopeful future
where bioengineered AI can be our partner, tackling
challenges, pushing medical boundaries, and fostering deeper
connections.
● AI becomes a tool for good, shaping a future where humanity
and technology can thrive together.
Thank You
References :
Bradshaw, Peter, and Kaveh Akbar. “The Creator review – vast and exhilarating sci-fi actioner rages against the AI machine.” The
Guardian, 26 September 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/film/2023/sep/26/the-creator-review-sci-fi-actioner-ai-gareth-edwards.
Accessed 31 March 2024.
Claude AI. Claude, https://claude.ai/chat/fce8c07d-0cd9-4640-80e8-3f345d72c0ae. Accessed 31 March 2024.
Simut,Andrei .“Contemporary Representations of Artificial Intelligence in Science Fiction Films, Visual Arts and Literature. A Short
Introduction.” Academia.edu,
https://www.academia.edu/33781420/Contemporary_Representations_of_Artificial_Intelligence_in_Science_Fiction_Films_Visual_Arts_and
_Literature_A_Short_Introduction. Accessed 31 March 2024.
Corliss, Richard. “Ex Machina Movie Review.” Time, 10 April 2015, https://time.com/3789656/ex-machina-review/. Accessed 31 March
2024.Works Cited
“Cyberpunk, Orwellian Fears, and the Faces of Tyranny.” Comment Magazine, 1 May 2004,https://comment.org/cyberpunk-orwellian-fears-
and-the-faces-of-tyranny/. Accessed 31 March 2024.
Edwards, Gareth, director. The Creator. Regency Enterprises Entertainment One New Regency Bad Dreams.
Garland, Alex, director. Ex Machina. Film4 DNA Films.
“
“Gemini.” https://gemini.google.com/app/9bd47d552d3e481b. Accessed 31 March 2024.
Ide, Wendy, and Neel Mukherjee. “The Creator review – a truly original man-v-machine sci-fi spectacular.” The Guardian, 1 October
2023,https://www.theguardian.com/film/2023/oct/01/the-creator-review-gareth-edwards-john-david-washington-gemma-chan. Accessed 31
March 2024.
Orwell, George. 1984. India Book Distributors, 2014.
Potter, Mary nne. “(Re)/(Dis)Embodying Love: The Cyborg in Metropolis and Blade Runner.” ResearchGate,
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/373624346_ReDisEmbodying_Love_The_Cyborg_in_Metropolis_and_Blade_Runner. Accessed
31 March 2024.
Schmeink, Lars. Biopunk Dystopias: Genetic Engineering, Society, and Science Fiction. Liverpool University Press, 2016. Accessed 31 March 2024.
Schmeink, Lars. “Review: Engineering the Liquid Posthuman.” Jstor, 9 November 2017,
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5621/sciefictstud.45.2.0390. Accessed 28 March 2024.
Scott, Ridley, director. Blade Runner. The Ladd Company Shaw Brothers Blade Runner Partnership.
Wilson, D. Harlan. “Deleuze and Baudrillard: From Cyberpunk to Biopunk by Sean McQueen (review).”Project MUSE, 17 March 2024,
https://muse.jhu.edu/article/705237/pdf. Accessed 28 March 2024.

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Man or Manufactured_ Redefining Humanity Through Biopunk Narratives.pptx

  • 1. Man or Manufactured? Redefining Humanity Through Biopunk Narratives
  • 2. Prepared by Dhatri Parmar Roll Number : 6 Enrollment Number : 5108230032 Semester : 2 Batch : 2023-2025 Paper no : 107 Paper Name : 20th Cen Lit-1 (1950 - 2000) Submitted to : S. B. Gardi Department of English. Maharaja Krishnakumarsinhji Bhavnagar University Date : 06 April 2024 Email ID: dhatriparmar291@gmail.com
  • 3. Introduction ● The concept of "biopunk" has emerged as a compelling subgenre within science fiction, exploring the fusion of biology and technology through narratives that challenge traditional notions of humanity. ● The literary and cinematic works of 1984, Ex Machina, Blade Runner, and The Creator (2023) redefine humanity through their biopunk narratives. ● These stories raise questions about the ethical implications of technological advancements in the realms of bioengineering and artificial intelligence.
  • 4. How do biopunk narratives depict and explore the blurring of distinctions between naturally born humans and manufactured beings, specifically examining the themes of consciousness, agency, and personhood, and what are the ethical implications and societal consequences of these portrayals? Question
  • 5. ● Cyberpunk emerged in the early 1980s as a postmodern form of science fiction in which the events take place partially or entirely within the “virtual reality” formed by computers or computer networks, in which the characters may be humans, or aliens, or artificial intelligences. (Wilson) ● Biopunk includes bio-hackers, biotech megacorporations, and oppressive government agencies that manipulate human DNA. ● Examines the dark side of genetic engineering and represents the low side of biotechnology.(Simut) Cyberpunk
  • 6. ● “Biopunk Dystopias" suggests biology drives scientific progress. ● With focus on genetic engineering post Human Genome Project-Francis S. Collins (1990-2003), societal shifts towards a "liquid modernity," and rethinking humanity in a posthuman era, it introduces "biopunk." (Schmeink #) ● Key themes : Human enhancement, bioengineering, corporate control, and the blurring of boundaries between natural and artificial life. ● These narratives challenge our understanding of what it means to be human. Defining Biopunk
  • 7. ● Biopunk shifts focus from cyber technologies to biological manipulation, emphasizing genetic engineering and hybridizing life forms. ● 21st century sci-fi explores biotechnology, rather than cyberpunk's obsession with cybernetic implants and digital worlds. ● This transition happened alongside biology becoming a major scientific frontier, public awareness of genetics after the Human Genome Project, theories about our modern "liquid" era of rapid change, and ideas about the posthuman condition.(Schmeink) Transition from Cyberpunk to Biopunk:
  • 8. ● Schmeink says biopunk fiction often imagines "critical dystopias" - dark future worlds where posthuman beings (like genetically engineered creatures) emerge from the problems of the present day. ● The unpredictable nature of these engineered life forms also challenges traditional views of what it means to be human. ● So while being critical of ethics issues, biopunk stories still contain a kernel of utopian hope for redefining human existence beyond current limits. (Schmeink) Biopunk Narratives as Critical Dystopias:
  • 9. From Newspeak to "Bio-Newspeak" - Exploring Biopunk Dystopias through Orwell's Lens ● Orwell's Newspeak showed how controlling language/information shapes reality ● In 1984, Party used Newspeak to restrict free thought ● Party's propaganda/conditioning = Metaphorical "re-engineering" of human biology ● Surveillance state and "thoughtcrime" = Warnings about biotech for totalitarian control ● Policing thoughts could relate to future brain-modifying biotech ● Biopunk extends to controlling "language" of life itself via biotechnology ● Recreating "biotech Newspeak" by rewriting genetic codes(“Cyberpunk, Orwellian Fears, and the Faces of Tyranny”)(Claude AI)
  • 10. ● Genetic manipulation could create "celibacy group" ● Limiting cognition, emotion, sexuality ● Robbing free will by altering biological core of human experience ● Ultimate lack of privacy and alienation. ● Even your genes/biology a rewritable script ● Humanity's core code made "untrustworthy" Controlling the Body ● Not just restricting words/facts, but subjugating biology itself ● Molecular bondage and human re-encoding as new mode of oppression(“Cyberpunk, Orwellian Fears, and the Faces of Tyranny”)(Claude AI) Continue…
  • 11. Blade Runner: A Biopunk Exploration of Humanity ● Bioengineering as the Central Conflict: The creation and control of Replicants, bioengineered beings with near-human capabilities. Hallmark of biopunk. ● The Blurring of Human and Machine: Replicants possess implanted memories and engineered bodies, raising questions about what defines humanity. ● The Ethics of Engineered Life: Ethical implications of creating and manipulating sentient beings. Should Replicants have rights? Is their lifespan a form of slavery? ● The Black Market for Organs by the Tyrell Corporation.(Potter)(“Gemini”)(Scott)
  • 12. Biopunk elements in Ex Machina: ● Bioengineered being: Ava, the robot, is an advanced AI housed in a human-like body. ● Human and machine: Relationship between Caleb, a human, and Ava, the machine. A core question is whether Ava can achieve consciousness, a biopunk trope that blurs the lines between human and machine. ● Unethical experimentation: Nathan, the creator, designed Ava and keeps her confined for testing. This raises bio-ethical questions about creating artificial life and its treatment. ● Sexualization of bioengineered being(Corliss) ● This aligns with Sennah Yee's critique of how even films that challenge the male gaze can fall back on sexualizing non-human female characters.(“Contemporary Representations of Artificial Intelligence in Science Fiction Films, Visual Arts and Literature. A Short Introduction”)(Garland)
  • 13. A Biopunk Exploration Wrapped in Sci-Fi The Creator ● An AI created by the US detonates a nuclear bomb, sparking a war between AI-fearing Western nations and AI-embracing New Asia. ● The US seeks to eliminate "Nirmata," the architect behind New Asia's AI, and the weapon Alpha-O (potentially controlled by AI). ● Engineered Beings: "simulants," human-like robots with advanced capabilities, the child with telekinetic abilities created by Nirmata, is a prime example of bioengineered life. ● Weaponization of Bioengineering: Alpha-O, the weapon the US fears, is likely a bioengineered entity. This highlights a core biopunk concern: the ethical implications of weaponizing engineered lifeforms.(Ide and Mukherjee) (Edwards)
  • 14. Continue… ● Coexistence of Man and Machine: Peaceful coexistence between humans and bioengineered beings like simulants. ● The Ethics of AI sentience: Questions about the sentience and rights of AI. Alphie's emotional depth and telekinesis challenge the definition of "human" and spark discussions about the ethical treatment of sentient beings created through bioengineering. ● The Dangers of Biowarfare: The film's central conflict originates from the devastating nuclear detonation caused by an AI. Bioengineered weapons falling into the wrong hands.(Bradshaw and Akbar)
  • 15. Conclusion ● Biopunk narratives delve into the ethical complexities of bioengineering, forcing us to question what defines humanity in a world. ● Yet, these stories also offer a glimpse of a hopeful future where bioengineered AI can be our partner, tackling challenges, pushing medical boundaries, and fostering deeper connections. ● AI becomes a tool for good, shaping a future where humanity and technology can thrive together.
  • 17. References : Bradshaw, Peter, and Kaveh Akbar. “The Creator review – vast and exhilarating sci-fi actioner rages against the AI machine.” The Guardian, 26 September 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/film/2023/sep/26/the-creator-review-sci-fi-actioner-ai-gareth-edwards. Accessed 31 March 2024. Claude AI. Claude, https://claude.ai/chat/fce8c07d-0cd9-4640-80e8-3f345d72c0ae. Accessed 31 March 2024. Simut,Andrei .“Contemporary Representations of Artificial Intelligence in Science Fiction Films, Visual Arts and Literature. A Short Introduction.” Academia.edu, https://www.academia.edu/33781420/Contemporary_Representations_of_Artificial_Intelligence_in_Science_Fiction_Films_Visual_Arts_and _Literature_A_Short_Introduction. Accessed 31 March 2024. Corliss, Richard. “Ex Machina Movie Review.” Time, 10 April 2015, https://time.com/3789656/ex-machina-review/. Accessed 31 March 2024.Works Cited “Cyberpunk, Orwellian Fears, and the Faces of Tyranny.” Comment Magazine, 1 May 2004,https://comment.org/cyberpunk-orwellian-fears- and-the-faces-of-tyranny/. Accessed 31 March 2024. Edwards, Gareth, director. The Creator. Regency Enterprises Entertainment One New Regency Bad Dreams. Garland, Alex, director. Ex Machina. Film4 DNA Films. “
  • 18. “Gemini.” https://gemini.google.com/app/9bd47d552d3e481b. Accessed 31 March 2024. Ide, Wendy, and Neel Mukherjee. “The Creator review – a truly original man-v-machine sci-fi spectacular.” The Guardian, 1 October 2023,https://www.theguardian.com/film/2023/oct/01/the-creator-review-gareth-edwards-john-david-washington-gemma-chan. Accessed 31 March 2024. Orwell, George. 1984. India Book Distributors, 2014. Potter, Mary nne. “(Re)/(Dis)Embodying Love: The Cyborg in Metropolis and Blade Runner.” ResearchGate, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/373624346_ReDisEmbodying_Love_The_Cyborg_in_Metropolis_and_Blade_Runner. Accessed 31 March 2024. Schmeink, Lars. Biopunk Dystopias: Genetic Engineering, Society, and Science Fiction. Liverpool University Press, 2016. Accessed 31 March 2024. Schmeink, Lars. “Review: Engineering the Liquid Posthuman.” Jstor, 9 November 2017, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5621/sciefictstud.45.2.0390. Accessed 28 March 2024. Scott, Ridley, director. Blade Runner. The Ladd Company Shaw Brothers Blade Runner Partnership. Wilson, D. Harlan. “Deleuze and Baudrillard: From Cyberpunk to Biopunk by Sean McQueen (review).”Project MUSE, 17 March 2024, https://muse.jhu.edu/article/705237/pdf. Accessed 28 March 2024.