The Battle for Dominance in the Skies: How Sci-Fi Films Reflected Societal and Political Concerns during the Space Race
Interdisciplinary: Film and Cultural Studies, History
Volume 7 | Issue III | September 2023
Harvard-Westlake School ’24
We are living in a time of rapid technological change. While many of the advances are undoubtedly beneficial to society, the collateral effects of the changes might not be evident for many years. For example, Artificial Intelligence is becoming increasingly common in our daily lives, yet scientists and industry experts also have called for slowing down its development until we fully grasp the implications of this powerful new technology. There are striking parallels between the 1960s Space Race and our current technological revolution. In my paper, I examine films during the Cold War era and their relationship with concurrent social, scientific, and political events. Studying the role of films in shaping the public understanding of nuclear risks during that time, I learned that scientific achievements are enabled by the convergence of multiple perspectives. From scientists to political leaders to academics to activists, a range of viewpoints and knowledge contributed not only to humanity’s achievements in space but also to avoiding nuclear catastrophe here on Earth. As with all disciplines, technology alone cannot solve all our problems, and by considering diverse perspectives, we gain a better understanding of our environment and the opportunities and challenges in it. Although my primary academic interests are programming and AI, I am grateful that, through my paper, I was able to look at technology from a non-scientific perspective. I want to thank The Schola for providing a forum for high school students to think deeply and critically about important issues in society, and especially for the journal’s willingness to explore them from an interdisciplinary perspective. The thoughtful editorial comments and guidance helped me polish the work that I am proud of and that I hope will be of interest to others.