Scenario: The film describes how a British inventor, George, created a time machine. With the machine, he was able to travel from his time period (year 1899) to the future (year 802,701). In that period, humans(called Eloi) had become passive fodder for cave dwelling cannibals(Morlocks). The film holds a pessimistic view that technology, instead of facilitating a better life for human beings, may destroy human civilization by means of war and therefore return humans back to a primitive situation. There is no government or law in this future dystopia. Human beings are passive and not interested in acquiring knowledge, lack self-motivation and critical capability, and show indifference to each other.
Do past visions of future information technologies have come true?
- The film imagines a fourth dimension (virtual space) outside the three dimensions we are living in. With the time machine, people are able tosurpass the limit of time. Presently, we do have a fourth dimension(virtual space). It is cyberspace. The virtual space in the real world, however, enables human being to transcend the spatial limit.
- Information Storage: In the film, it is "talking rings" passing on knowledge in the future. Books were not important as forms of information storage. Human beings don't even remember how to spell. It implies that machines will replace the role of print in accumulating knowledge. Presently we do have a machine with the function like "talking ring" such as electronic media; but it is too early to determine whether that electronic machine will replace or supplement print.
- According to the film, the groups with knowledge control the power. This seems true in a closed political system such as communist or authoritarian regimes. The ruling class strengthens their power by controlling information and keeping the people away from dissenting viewpoints. In an open system such as the capitalist system, knowledge can be used to make money.
- Desensitization: In the film, while the girl, Weena, almost drowns to death, no one even tries to save her life. It was a terrifying signal of desensitization brought about by technology. A good example of desensitization in our world is the downturn in political participation and decrease in election turnout. However, tribalism enthusiasm may increase in he information age at the same time. We can see more and more protesting groups or subgroups occurring in our society. As some scholars argue, the two forces of integration and disintegration exist simultaneously in the world.
- At the end of the movie, George goes back to 1899 for a few hours and then decides to go back to the future to help the Eloi rebuild their society. The only things he takes with him are three books from the bookshelf. What three books would you take with you if you wanted to construct a new society?