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In Oryx and Crake, how might advanced technology lead to society's downfall?

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In Margaret Atwood's novel, Oryx and Crake, Atwood presents a dystopian picture of a world in which scientific advances continue in an uncontrolled manner that is unguided by any moral compass. As such, genetic experiments run rampant and genetically created humans, Crakers, are experimented on and controlled through scientific technology. There are some parallels with our own world, as gene-splicing is used and reproductive controls are used against the Crakers. Indeed, it is a horrific fact that throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, white American scientists used men and women of color as test subjects for a range of reproductive health experiments. Black women were often used as test subjects, and as late as the 1950s, American scientists used coercive measures to infect Central American women with sexually transmitted infections to test for possible treatments. Throughout the decades, women in prisons and mental institutions have been forcibly sterilized. In Atwood's dystopic novel, Crake and his team use scientific advancements to control the reproductive health of the Crakers and to secretly sterilize them. These uncontrolled scientific technologies and their uses by corrupt scientists, in Oryx and Crake, eventually lead to the downfall of humanity.

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This novel, as with the majority of Atwood's dystopian novels, certainly has something very profound to say about the possible future we face based on where we are now. Atwood presents us with a terrifying world where scientific advances have led to horrific blending or splicing of genes, and thus the creation of new species. In addition, science has advanced so far that it is possible to create a virus that is capable of wiping out humanity. Although in the novel the end of humanity is achieved as part of a deliberate, calculated plan by Crake to wipe out humanity and replace it with his own race, we are presented with an incredibly unstable world where scientific advances are rapidly outstripping morals and values, and where one simple mistake could easily unleash a number of issues or problems on the world. Atwood paints a very bleak picture of our future and points towards the dangers of rampant scientific advances without a secure framework.

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