Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Labor, “Man”power, Nodes/Sockets, Energy, Ethics

This was the first week I hadn’t seen any of the films or read the book prior to them being assigned for this class, so I went into it not knowing how each one would fit into the theme of new frontiers of energy. My initial guess was that we would be dealing with new types of raw materials found among the stars and reading Nova, at first I thought my guess had been correct. However, what I was drawn to most in Nova was actually the concept of socketing and the fact that it was basically required to exist in modern society. Beyond that, the philosophical father of the socket idea was the most revered person of the future age.

As I jumped into the movies I was concerned they would be more about mineral energy and I would lose the chance to really examine the change in human power brought about by socketing in Nova. Thankfully, both the movies featured new ways of exploring human power.

The most interesting dilemma presented by the assigned works for this week was the way ethical labor practices go out the window if you can’t see the people doing leather. In Moon, the 3-yr duration clones (apparently made from donor DNA from a person on Earth) have been working, living, and dying with implanted memories for 15 years mining the “energy of the future” and there seems to be no moral concern among the company executives running the project. Additionally, people on the Earth seem unaware of the idea of cloning because you would expect (hope) that people would object to people dying for their energy. This also raises the question of “are clones real people,” “do they have souls,” etc.

In Sleep Dealer, the labor of the 1st world comes in the form of robots operated not by high-tech computers but by the thoughts and mental energy of 3rd world labor transmitting their directions and thoughts over great distances. Now there is no need to worry about harsh labor conditions because it’s A) Just mental energy and B) the laborers aren’t physically present at the job sites. This prevents any 1st world “ethical” labor laws from limiting the amount or type of work that can be done. At the same time, another disjunction occurs in the techno-military organizations of this world, where all combat is done purely by drones run by humans from great distances. Suddenly it’s easier to kill people when it seems like killing people in video games.

In general the most interesting and disturbing ramifications of this week’s assignments were the ones that did the exact opposite of what socketing supposedly did in the world of Nova. Rather than empowering laborers it merely pulled them farther away physically from their work, which made the treatment of laborers no longer an issue. Capitalism suddenly drives everything with no sign of moral blinders.


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