Daedalus and Icarus
Theme of Technology in Daedalus and Icarus
Daedalus loves to invent things. What he doesn't love is thinking about the consequences of his inventions. For example, when Pasiphae (King Minos's wife), asks Daedalus to build her a cow suit so that she can seduce a bull, Daedalus does it without pausing to consider the possible outcomes. And guess what? Pasiphae's union with the bull results in the Minotaur, a horrible half-man, half-bull who feasts off human flesh. How's that for unforeseen consequences?
True, when Daedalus invents the wings made of wax, he briefly considers what might happen if Icarus should fly too close to the sea (damp wings) or the sun (melty wings). But these thoughts sure don't stop him from creating or using his feathered inventions. Ultimately, when Icarus falls from the heavens, Daedalus has no one to blame but himself, since he was the guy who created the devices that allowed the boy to fly so high in the first place.
Through this myth, we get a glimpse into the dark side of technology—a topic that's still very relevant today. From genetic modification to nuclear weapons, powerful technologies have powerful and potentially dangerous consequences. Just think about Jurassic Park and Minority Report and you'll know what we mean: humankind's curiosity and thirst for invention can lead to awful, scary things. And iPads.
Questions About Technology
- Are the benefits of new technology worth the risk of its possible unforeseen consequences? Ultimately, would humans be better off without technology?
- If you were the head of the government, how would you ensure that technology was only used for good? Is this possible?
- Should Daedalus and Icarus have stayed in the Labyrinth, instead of risking their lives? Why or why not?
- Can you think of other instances in the real world when a technology has been used for both good and evil?