Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Exit 'The Matrix,' please

This news story, Power from blood could lead to 'human batteries', has been cycled, recycled, spun and dried on news sites and blogs for the past couple of days, partly because the writer was smart: He inserted a "Matrix" reference.

Between the overused "Fantastic Voyage" references and the cottage industry that revolves around making "Star Trek" technology a reality, it appears that many writers are convinced that the only way to make science breakthroughs understandable to average readers is to compare the resulting technologies to their counterparts in popular mythology. The movies, of course, are among our few common, worldwide reference points, so conjuring up "Matrix" images makes the story more likely to be picked up by news outlets around the world.

The problem is that potentially life-saving technology is being presented, again, as potentially sinister. There is, of course, a dark side to any technology, so why not do a little extra reporting to flag the potential misuses? That would take a little more work, though.

I'm admittedly geekier than the average bear, but the thought of nanobio generators being used to power implanted devices like pacemakers is cool enough to hold my interest – without the writer prodding me with the image of Keanu Reeves as a AAA battery attached to a worldwide screen saver encrypted to enslave humanity.


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