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Technology and Ethics

We are accustomed to thinking about the achievements of modern technology in terms of extremes: the utopian wonders that will come from our ever-increasing power over nature, and the fear that we will misuse this power in terrible ways. The fear, at any rate, finds its classic expression in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In contrast, Rabbi Yudel Rosenberg’s 1909 novel The Golem and the Wondrous Deeds of the Maharal of Prague paints a nuanced, non-utopian picture of the circumstances under which the creation of an artificial human-like being does not have tragic consequences. The goal of this course is to consider the circumstances under which human artifice is more, rather than less, likely to be deployed for the good.

Sample readings:

  • Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
  • Rabbi Yudel Rosenberg, The Golem and the Wondrous Deeds of the Maharal of Prague
  • Modern scientific readings

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