Technology and Society in 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Ender's Game, and America in 2004

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Technology and Society in 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Ender's Game, and America in 2004

Science fiction authors of the 1940's and 50's like George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, and Isaac Asimov wrote their books about technological dilemmas such as automation (robots), information technology, and technologically influenced utopias (or depending on the reader, dystopias). Charles Allen once said that "if the human race wants to go to Hell in a basket, technology can help it get there by jet." In the era of the mentioned authors, technology was a new and exciting idea, and the concept of technology causing so many problems was far from their minds. Today, however, our lives are practically dictated by technology.

Ray Bradbury and George Orwell were more frightened of the endless possibilities of what humans can do with technology. In 1984, George Orwell wrote of a future where people didn't know what privacy was because the government used the art of spying to gain control and acceptance. The government watched the actions of its citizens from the moment they were born until the time of their death. Protection from surveillance was impossible because all technology was owned by "Big Brother." Besides that, how can one miss something they've never experienced? If you were born without a finger, do you really miss it? It may be useful, but if you've never experienced it, how do you know you're actually missing out?

We face the same conflict today, almost fifty years later. Our government uses all kinds of surveillance to keep track of its citizens, from satellites in space to cameras mounted on telephone poles. Although it's highly unlikely that total privacy has been taken from us, the concept is possible. When Orwell wrote 1984, he wrote of a foreign idea, not realizing that we are experiencing excerpts of his book in 1999. It's almost sad, in a way, that our government has taken a piece of one man's imagination and applied it to everyday life. Who's Big Brother now?

Fahrenheit 451, written by Ray Bradbury, is set in a society where the written word is strictly forbidden. Firemen of the future are required to set fires, not put them out. They are required to find houses, buildings, basically any place that contains the forbidden books.
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