October 1, 2022

Transforming ethics this summer

What a blockbuster teaches us about bioethics.

Yes, in our on-going quest for cultural relevance, we have uncovered bioethics even in the summer blockbuster Transformers: Age of Extinction (Rotten Tomatoes rating of 17%). Writing in Slate, Jonathan Moreno, of the University of Pennsylvania, and a past president of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, reports that the Stanley Tucci character shout at one of the autobots, “I know you take the bioethical issues very seriously!”

“In the film, Tucci plays an arrogant CEO who wants to transfer the brains of deceased Transformers into his man-made Transformers. Is that ethical? And does he think that those Transformer brains are the equivalent of their minds? Is that even metaphysically possible? The warm and fuzzy autobots are understandably offended. Unlike this captain of industry, they seem to have a moral compass in their glove compartments.

“Whatever else one says about this insanely discontinuous CGI slugfest, the Tucci character’s line is a minor pop-culture breakthrough that’s worth notice: Considering the ubiquity of bioethics themes in modern sci-fi movies, it’s high time somebody used the ‘b’ word.”

And what does the fourth Transformers film teach us? Moreno writes:

“Transformers raises questions about mutability, personhood, the upshot of technology, and the fact that in the end, we are entirely dependent on the universe, which might at any moment deliver creatures that can be vengeful or compassionate.”

https://www.bioedge.org/images/2008images/TRANSFORMERS-AGE-OF-EXTINCTION_.jpg
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