Brave New World Technology Compared to Today

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby

Kaitlin has a BA in political science and extensive experience working in the business world as Director of Marketing and Business Development at a financial advice firm.

Some of the technology in the dystopian novel Brave New World might seem far fetched, even in light of the technological leaps our society has made since the novel was written. However, some of the technology just might sound familiar.

Different Technologies

Simply put, it is impossible to imagine the world of Brave New World without some pretty considerable advances in technology. Humans are grown in giant vats, rockets connect far-away cities, and there seems to be just enough of everything to keep everyone happy. At first glance, it seems a bit far-fetched.

However, the truth is that many of these technologies seemed within the grasp of humanity in the early 1930s, when Aldous Huxley wrote the book, and many more are available today. In this lesson, we'll take a look at the place of technology in Brave New World, making special note when our real world technology has caught up with that of the World State, the controlling dictatorship in the novel.

Brave New World cover
Brave New World cover

Reverence of Technology

More than just having a central role, technology is also largely revered in the society of the book for having changed the world. Instead of relying on God and religion, people instead hold reverence for the two minds that changed the face of technology: Henry Ford, who put technology within reach of the common man, and Sigmund Freud, who turned understanding human thought into its own technology.

Still, for all that reverence for technology, there is an equal desire to not see it go any further. After all, society is finally stable, and technology has a bad habit of shaking that stability. Mustapha Mond, the controller of Western Europe, has to ponder reassigning an overly-talented scientist to the islands for pushing his work too hard, and only permits innovations that result in increased consumerism.

More Advanced Than Our Technology

But what about the actual technologies of Brave New World? Certainly, many of them are more advanced than what we have now. Most obviously, rocket ships do not link the world. While air travel now takes fewer hours than it did in the 1930s, it is still measured in multiples of hours, not the handful of hours to fly from New Mexico to London. Also, and perhaps thankfully considering most people's driving, helicopters are only used by trained pilots, not the citizenry at large.

Still, one of the biggest innovations that we see in Brave New World is the use of soma, the wonder drug that keeps the population from feeling even the slightest discomforts. Whether or not such technology is available to us is largely limited by the ethics involved.

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