Ethics Play (Final) | Nature

Issues at Hand

By Larry Herskowitz and Anthony Salvagno Main Plot: Calderone is just finishing his thesis. He needs a little bit more data to complete research on Nano JESUS. Evan wants to finish his PhD first so he can sell Nano JESUS to a company. So he has been sabotaging Calderone’s work but since Calderone is so meticulous he always finds the error but doesn’t suspect Evan. Frustrated with his failed attempts, Evan decides to raise futuristic concerns and tell a whole bunch of dirty hippies so they force Calderone to waste his time. Calderone figures out that Evan told the hippies, and they argue. In the heat of the argument, Calderone realizes he didn’t secure the flux capacitor and Chlorine gas has been leaking and has filled the lab; killing both of them. Evan may get blinded by a laser. Themes: Public usually doesn’t know anything about breakthrough technologies. They are easily scared and influenced by incorrect and incomplete information provided by the media. Public outcries can cause major slowdowns when developing new technologies and catering to these whims should not always be heeded. Thinking too much about the future is also a major concern. Focus on the present is extremely important, because it is this time that the advances are taking place, not later. Greed and jealousy are bad.

Setting: Calderone sitting at the desk with a laptop on in front of him. He is working on research. The PowerPointbehind Calderone shows image 0123 of July in Pictures/2008. Calderone thinks to himself :flux capacitor prevents chlorine gas from contaminating the sample. Chlorine (long pause)… Man, it’s been such a long time since I started grad school. (Boston Long Time starts playing) I remember looking up to the older grad students…Anthony, Larry they just seemed to be on top of their game all the time. The lab seemed so empty after they graduated. I didn’t think I’d ever complete anything without their guidance. I remember when Evan joined the lab and I thought that working together, we’d be able to accomplish a lot. I can’t believe the day is almost here. I just need to analyze this last bit of data, and schedule my thesis defense. If everything goes as planned I can graduate in 2 or 3 months. I want to make sure I get everything perfect. I always seem to make small mistakes, but it is a good thing I catch them before it turns into anything disastrous. Oddly enough it seems like those mistakes come out of nowhere. (Evan Enters)

Calderone: Hey good morning Evan: ‘Sup. Didja see the Giants game? Calderone: Yea I was able to catch a bit of it. I was trying to write more for my thesis. Evan: Well it was pretty good. Eli had a great game and they crushed Washington. What part are you working on? Calderone: Right now I am just working on the set up and methods Evan: I thought you said you needed to double check something before you finished your thesis Calderone: Yea but something just didn’t seem right. So I wanted to make sure my set up was correct, because I found the vacuum almost wasn’t at its required level. But I found it and brought it down before I ran my experiment. Somehow I managed to calibrate it too high even though I thought I did it correctly. That would have put me back a while because I would have to reorder all the material again since that one box went missing. Evan: So were you able to get another working sample of Nano JESUS (Jiga ExtrasenSorical Unified System, PowerPoint slide of this name plus random graphs.) Calderone: Yea check it out. (Calderone throws a vial to Evan, who fumbles and drops it) Evan: Ahh man, sorry,Calderone, that was the last of your supplies wasn’t it. My bad. Calderone: Nah, don’t worry I have all the data right here. (Points at graphs.) I’ve been working with that sample for a while. I don’t need it any more. Evan: (Walks past and behind Calderone) Did you catch I, Roboton TBS last night? They showed it back to back. (PowerPoint slide of I, Robot pictures and other Will Smith Movies) Calderone: I’ve seen it before, but I didn’t watch it yesterday. Will Smith is the MAN!! He showed those robots the business. I hate when TBS shows movies back to back like that. It’s so annoying. You know its cause they don’t have anything better to show. I mean who wants to watch Frank TV anyways?

Evan: Yea I know. I don’t understand why they can’t just stick with Will Smith movies and show Bad Boys or Men in Black or hell even Six Degrees of Separation! So anyways, I love I, Robot because you can show all the violence of an R-rated movie but keep it PG-13 because there are no real fatalities… just robots. Calderone: Yea like that whole final battle where the Fresh Prince is just housing the robots. Evan: I can’t believe people think the future could end up like that. We built robots to help us and in the end they just turn on us and either enslave us or destroy all humanity. (PowerPoint slides of Eric Drexel, Jesus kicking Will Smith, WS kicking Jesus, and Chernobyl) Calderone: I don’t believe that’s the case at all. Not even the godfather of nano believes that to be the case. Evan: Did you ever think of what NanoJESUS could do to the future? I mean, what if NanoJESUS is kicking Will Smith’s ass? Calderone: First off, we know nothing kicks Will Smith’s ass! Second, who has time or the care to think that far into the future anyways? And how am I supposed to even imagine what the world will be like in say 30 years? Evan: What if NanoJESUS causes cancer or something, like everything else? Like asbestos, x-rays,and lead paint. What if this is the next Chernobyl? (Powerpoint slide of the lab again.) Calderone: That is a bit extreme. Well we’ll just wait for actual experimentation and results before we start freaking out. Evan: The media likes to blow things out of proportion. You should address these concerns before moving on Calderone: I am pretty good at checking and double checking my work. Should I stop my research because people who don’t know anything about this technology freak out over a couple of buzz words. Evan: All I am saying is you don’t want to be the topic of some fake internet debate. You also don’t want anything negative to come out of this because the internet will attack it. After that then the media and before you know it you’ve killed 100,000 people.

Calderone: (getting really frustrated)What are you saying that just because I have the word nano in this that people will already assume that this is the end of the world? Like nano equals death or something. We both know this is safe and that I’ll have the certification to back it up. Evan: I am not completely convinced it is safe. I wouldn’t want to find out 50 years from now that I’ll have cancer because I worked in the lab. Calderone: Where does this come from? You’ve been working with me on this project for some time now and you’ve always seemed really excited about it. How come now you are all of a sudden scared of it? Just because you just learned what the precautionary principle is doesn’t mean it is always applicable. Evan: There are a lot of things to think about here. Maybe if you tried some steps from the precautionary principle instead of running forward, you’d be able to address some of the concerns of the public and quell their fears. Calderone: What public?! Nobody knows about this! (Protestors Noise, sounds from mp3 file.) Calderone: What the heck is going on outside? Evan: Looks like the clock is ticking, and your time has ran out. End of Act I (“Curtain” closes and Intermission slide shown.)

Act II Setting: Powerpoint slide of curtains opening to reveal ACT 2. Calderone paces at the door and then walks out looking exasperated. Evan still in the lab smirking. Powerpoint slide of another view of the lab. Evan thinks to himself: Here’s an order form Calderone won’t need any more. (Throws away paper) When I first joined the lab Calderone was just starting on this NanoJESUS shenangians. He had no idea where to go with it, what to use it for, or how it could revolutionize the world. That is where I came in. I gave this project purpose. It is as much mine as it is his. Even though he’ll get the credit for it. His thesis, what am I going to write for mine? We both put in tons of hours into this, but I’m gonna have to have a whole new project. I’ll be alone again. He was always so close to the former grad students, they were like a family. And I was the red headed step child. Never really fit in. (Calderone walks back in) Evan: What’s happening out there? Calderone: Buncha protestors showed up. Somehow they found out about our research. It’s plastered all over the news and internet. They seem to know all the “potential” wrong doings. No benefits, to them it just seems like I am trying to give everyone cancer. I wish everyone would do their research before they make bold claims. Don’t they see the good this could do? I wish I had time to prove myself and the technology but now this is just gonna snowball and I am screwed. Maybe if I show them a sample and the good it can do, they’ll get off my back. Ohh, but you broke the last sample. I gotta make a new batch. (Calderone goes to wall and presses a switch, button or whatever) Evan: (Fake worried) It’s alright man. Damn dirty protestors. They don’t even know what they are talking about. They’ll protest anything. Remember the stain resistant khakis. Look you are wearing them now and no cancer. We must’ve been scooped or something. (Calderone stops what he is doing and looks up) Probably that undergraduate. But this’ll all blow over. Just sit around and wait for it. If you make a new batch now it won’t help. You should just

take the rest of the day off and just think about it and relax. Hell if you thought about it earlier, like I suggested, this would never have happened. Calderone: Maybe you are right….wait what’re you talking about?! You say this like you saw this coming. Evan: What? That was all just a coincidence. I started thinking about it because of that ethics course I am taking. How am I supposed to know that protestors are gonna show up unannounced? Calderone: Maybe you are right. The PI’s gonna be pretty pissed when he hears about all this. Thank God he is vacationing in Wisconsin where they don’t have news or internet. I am gonna head home and try to get some sleep, relax, play Gears of War. (Heads towards the door and sees the crumpled piece of paper) What is this? (Opens it up) What the hell is this? Why is this crumpled up on the floor? Evan: oh I thought you were done with it and didn’t need… Calderone: (Yelling) Yea well I still do need it. Evan: Alright jeez. Calm yourself. Don’t take your frustrations out on me. It isn’t like this is my fault or anything. Maybe you did this. You are always making stupid mistakes like the other day when you forgot to monitor the temperature correctly. Maybe you said something to the wrong person. That’s why our PI says never to discuss our research with anybody. Like his PI told him at Cornell. Calderone: Wow you are awfully defensive. And how do you even know about the temperature miscalculation? You were away last weekend when that happened. Evan: Oh I saw it in your lab notebook. Calderone: Oh ok. Sorry, I’m going crazy. There is just so much pressure to get this done properly. Maybe I am overreacting and this isn’t so much an attack on me. Maybe they do know of the benefits. Let’s see what the news says (click on powerpoint to show movie) Newsman: Local public has been outraged over the recent unveiling of a new prototype. NanoJESUS is as controversial as its name implies. (Evan states how lucky this is that it is on) Apparently the claims of protestors is not unfounded as a source from the lab states that this product can cause cancer like “asbestos, lead paint, and x-rays and potentially as devastating as Chernobyl.” The source wanted to remain anonymous. Let’s hope

nanoJESUS can bring us back from the dead. Hahaha. In other news are puppies as cute as we think? Recent research leads us to believe otherwise. Dave Olson has the report. (News turns off) Calderone: Evan, I don’t understand. Evan: I told that bitch not to quote me. Calderone: I don’t understand how you couldn’t come up with three different examples? Why would you do this to us, our research, and to me? I thought we were friends. Evan: Friends?! When? I’ve worked on this project from the beginning and when you are done with it I will get none of the credit. Calderone: You would have gotten credit. You would have been an author. Evan: What to be a third author on some esoteric publication? What about the money?! I know you were planning on selling the patent to that multimillion dollar company. And pocket it all. Calderone: No,that wasn’t the plan at all. You don’t understand…. Evan: That’s crap! I’ve been excluded from this lab the whole time. Why would this be any different? You were gonna go off and make millions and I would have been left struggling with my thesis. I’ve held your hand throughout this entire project. Without me none of this would have been possible. There would be no NanoJESUS. Calderone: What are you talking about? We were together it was… Evan: But noooooo you had to make it difficult. You were always on top of everything. Always catching those little gosh darn mistakes you were always making. Oh by the way, you weren’t making mistake. It was me slowing you down.. Don’t make that face. Catch up will you? Didn’t you ever wonder why I would never catch those little mistakes sometimes? So I had to go and tell a couple of people at the co op. And like good little hippies they protested, which got the media involved. Calderone: But now the research is worthless because of all this bad press. Evan: Thanks to all your research finding the positives. I was able to find a buyer, and the transaction was confirmed today. So I had to stall you until today to make sure you didn’t’ screw it up for me. (Cough)

Calderone: That wasn’t the plan at all. (Rubbing eyes). I had your name on all the patent information and we were going to split all the profits evenly. I’ve considered you my best friend throughout the whole thing. And I can’t believe you (cough) turned on me. Evan: (Coughs violently) Really? (Coughs violently. Bends over). Calderone: Evan, what’s wrong. (cough) Evan: My lungs hurt and eyes burn. Calderone: So do mine….oh no the flux capacitor. Chlorine has been filling the room all day. (Evan falls over) Calderone: If only I wasn’t so distracted. All this discussion about preparing for future scenarios which may not even come true,I forgot to double check the capacitor. (Cough) If only my research was able to flourish naturally instead of being bogged down by people who don’t even know what the prefix nano mean, this could have been avoided. I should have paid more attention to what is happening now. I could have prevented this and maybe I could have been a better friend. (Collapses) (Evan staggers to his feet) Evan: What have I done? I used people’s fears for my own gain, and now I sit in my ruin. Oh no my eyes, I can’t see. Before I was only blinded by my jealousy but now I am truly blind. How ironic when I finally understand that ethics should be used to further science and knowledge instead of hinder it with fear and paranoia. (Dies) Scene ends with two former friends dead on the floor.

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