Jurassic Park: Dinosaurs, Ethics, and Politics

Written by Geoffrey Aikens (@OhArd215) — June 28, 2017

This piece in no way represents the views of Rising Young Minds as a publication or otherwise. All views and suggestions presented are strictly products of the operating author.

Image Courtesy of Flickr

This month marked the 24th anniversary of one of the greatest films to ever be brought to screen: Jurassic Park. The story of a dream gone astray, Jurassic Park has endured the test of time, offering lessons that remain applicable today. Directed by Steven Spielberg and adapted from the original novel by Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park tells the story of John Hammond, an eccentric billionaire who dreams of opening an island theme park with dinosaurs. A novel idea, one would think. But, like many great ideas, it goes awry. The park spins out of control and its residents are forced to fight for their lives against a horde of bloodthirsty dinosaurs.

Power and Responsibility:

Throughout the story, we learn of Hammond’s lab attempting acts of God and, in doing so, stumbling upon a question that we can only hope the highest powers ask themselves: “Just because I can do something, does it mean that I should?” Hammond, with all his money and power, saw no reason not to build a remote island theme park with dinosaurs. In the book, Ian Malcolm, a mathematician who comes along to observe the park, tells him it is foolish to expect nothing to go wrong with such a grand scheme.

In order to bring back certain dinosaurs that Hammond thought would be the most entertaining, he had to fill missing pieces of their DNA with that of current animals’. While appearing to work perfectly, this is the catalyst for the park’s failure. The animal DNA produces a host of unexpected side effects. Hammond, clearly enamoured with his ability to manipulate the DNA, does not stop to reflect on whether or not he should. Often this parallels politics, where a lack of moral reasoning can be seen as a side effect of too much power residing with an individual.

When representing large groups of people through legislature, it can be enticing to push forward self-serving agendas, instead of what the masses may want. While not necessarily opposites, this creates a dynamic that can alienate representatives from their constituents. Carried by the idea that they can see the whole picture, representatives get caught up in their ability to affect change without thinking if they should. This stresses the entire system of government and its people. In Jurassic Park, Hammond gets to witness his creation collapse first hand, though his failure is more immediately dangerous to the people under his responsibility.

Not all of the side effects of overly-ambitious politicians will be as obvious as, say, a Tyrannosaurs rampaging through a jungle, but they are not invisible. People may take out their disapproval in the form of protests and marches, even the destruction of public and private property. Our elected officials are the most important link between the people and their government. We can only hope that before taking action they stop to think that just because they can do something, does it mean that they should?

CHAOS:

‘Chaos’ is an interdisciplinary theory stating that, within the apparent randomness of chaotic complex systems, there are underlying patterns, constant feedback loops, repetition, self-similarity, fractals, self-organization, and reliance on programming at the initial point known as sensitive dependence on initial conditions.

Everyday we see our world grow more and more complicated. With different factions around the globe attempting to push their ideals to the forefront, we can look to another of Jurassic Park’s important lessons: the chaos theory. In a nutshell, the chaos theory mentions that while events may seem random in a complex system, they actually follow an underlying pattern that can be traced. If the pattern is not recognized, it can cause the system to collapse. A “system” is a group of interacting pieces that form a larger whole. Chaos depends on a nonlinear system with specific starting variables or “initial conditions”, where the feedback from the system repeats to form cycles called “iterations”. This transforms the original feedback loop into a complex, multilayered system. Once these iterations have compiled, a small disturbance to the initial conditions can break the chain, sending the system into chaos.

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

This applies well to foreign relations: the United States has been involved in many different countries across the world, either toppling leaders we do not find work with our values, or sending relief to nations in need. Our nation has, without a doubt, left a long and complex pattern of actions which, to the average person, may seem random. These actions operate outside of the standards of foreign political systems. The disturbed feedbacks in these systems have produced separate events around the globe, that seem to have no connection to our government. This simply is not true; the behavior of the United States has disturbed systems and sparked responses all over the world, from reactions by government officials, to retaliation from radical subsects.

Operating outside the initial conditions of a foreign political system creates a disturbance. This sends it into chaos and makes predicting the next iteration seem impossible, leading to people thinking the reactions are random when, in fact, they can be recognized. By paying attention to shifts in the initial conditions of the political system, we can more accurately distinguish the new patterns emerging.These disturbances could manifest as a dictators’ use of propaganda, or even individuals swayed towards extremist groups. The distortion of a political system can manifest as chaos, where people lose their lives.

The chaos theory can also apply socially. Human interaction is a complex system filled with nuance and wordplay. Each interaction we have with someone creates a system of communication. We must take it upon ourselves to include opposing views whenever attempting to build a system. By embracing disagreements into the initial conditions of our system, we will be able to have them occur regularly within conversations without communicative collapse. Often our meaningful conversations are cut short by quarrels or contretemps, leaving one party too disparaged or apoplectic to continue. It is up to us to incorporate iterations into our system, so that if people disagree, it does not become hostile. Without the disagreements accounted for in the initial conditions, when they occur, we will not be able to predict how it will affect the system, effectively sending it into chaos.

Verdict:

Accepting ethicality behind our actions is important in our day to day encounters. This is multiplied even more so when in a position of power. We must hold our representatives responsible for the ethics of their decisions. Realize that chaos plays a role in all the events we are involved in. We must be diligent about our duties as citizens, holding our politicians responsible if they stop representing the people. The people can not be complacent in how our government behaves on the global stage.

Once we involve ourselves in the happenings around the world, we cannot turn our brains off and miss these underlying patterns. We must pay attention. Do not let the screens of the world distract you from the realness your eyes convey. A core piece of the chaos theory is the apparent randomness of the system. It is essential to remain vigilant and gather information so that we can follow the patterns within our world and prevent its collapse.

It would do us well to heed the lessons of Jurassic Park.

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