Journal 7

The book Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand gave the reader a refreshing new perspective of reading. When I started to read the book I was extremely taken aback by the outlandish world the author took us to. The idea of Cultrual Fugue really started to make me think about what would happen to earth if we had a similiar system. Would people try to change their ways to avoid cultural fugue and the destruction of our planet? The world is going into a downward spiral due to climate change and the inability of our species to try to preserve our beautiful home. As I continued to read this novel I realized I began to  normalize  such a strange world in my head and the many parallels RAT Korga and Marq’s world has with our own. The family shows much of the resistance to interspecies relationship similiarly to how people in the US resist same sex or inter racial marriage. These ethical dilemmas are cross cultural and can be seen in even the strangest and most fantastical books like Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand.

Journal 6 Richardson

The amazon series “Humans” taps into a long held fear of autonomous robots. Asimov and many other authors have spent their lives writing stories about a futuristic world where robots are able to feel in the same way humans can today. “Humans” attempts to tell a story at a climactic time in the life of robots partnering with humans, the tale of displacement. One of the main storylines in the series is of a stereotypical family, both parents work and are raising 3 kids while trying to stay sane and help their kids succeed. While the mother is gone, the father buys Anita, a robot to help with help around the house. This causes extreme tension between the mother and Anita, in one scene the mother sees that Anita is reading to her youngest daughter she immediately says “Stop reading to her- that’s my job”. The mother is feeling displaced by the female robot coming into the house and, objectively, being able to do more work faster than she ever could have

Another example of displacement is in “Humans” when the parents talk to their oldest daughter, they are discussing her most recent report card, which was extremely lacking. The parents where concered about the lost potential of their daughter, she responds “Why would I spend 7 years in school to become a doctor when a robot can learn how to do it in 15 seconds”. The daughter does not see a place for her in a world full of robots. These fears are not misplaced, displacement was also a major tension in Caves of Steel between the Earthers and robots, many humans were worried the robots would come and steal their jobs.

Currently, we are looking at a future similar to the one described in “Humans”, robots will begin to and have already started to displace humans. This doesn’t have to be a negative, our country just needs to adapt to the changing future.

Richardson Journal 5

In the book, Caves of Steel, the author Isaac Asimov sets the main characters in a futuristic world where humans and robots live together. On earth the civilizations are largely underground and the citizens have a lot of resentment towards robots for fear they will take their jobs. In space, robots and humans live harmoniously together in the “Spacer World” making each other’s live better. The main character, a detective named Elijah Baley gets put on a murder case with the robot named R. Daneel. Throughout the book we see the similarities R. Daneel and Elijah have, however there is a large distrust of robots simply because they are robots. This distrust leads to hatred, especially within the group The Medievalists who pine for the “olden days” where there were no robots.

This fear of robots is extremely relevant to today’s economy. Detroit was the epicenter for manufacturing cars, however car companies overseas were outcompeting American ones due to automating hteir workforce. This forced car companies in the US to switch to automated workforce, effectively leaving thousands without work. We can also see the fight for minimum wage in the dast food industry is being weakened by the possibility of a machine based service system. Recently, labor unions came together to “Fight for $15” minimum wage in the fast food industry. McDonalds was forced to comply, creating the starting wage ad $15; however within the same week they announced “the nationwide roll-out of touchscreen self-service kiosks”. The machines were the solution to the extremely high work force wages. Due to this our country has very mixed opinions on robots, some view them as the future while others see a future with fewer jobs and more poverty.

Richardson- Journal 3/4

The connection between the Bicentennial Man and Jim Crow laws of the 20th century is inescapable. More specifically, in the Bicentennial Man there was a clear distinction between what is moral and what is lawful. When Sir gave Andrew a bank account he did not abide by the law, “’Sir, it is kind of you to have allowed me to spend my money as I wished…I don’t believe the law would have stopped you from keeping it all’[said Andrew]… ‘the law wont persuade me to do wrong’[stated Sir]” (274-275). Sir’s statement is extremely powerful, instead of a person persuading him to abandon his beliefs it is the government. His moral code comes in direct contrast with the law of the land. This tension also arose when Andrew wanted to become legally free. The attorney argues, “the word ‘freedom’ has no meaning when applied to a robot. Only a human can be free”(276). This conclusion; however, is in opposition to Andrew, Sir, and Little Miss’s beliefs. Andrew is self aware enough to understand what freedom means, Little Miss makes a valiant plea in his defense, “When you talk to him you’ll find he reacts to various abstractions as you and I do, and what else counts? If someone else’s reactions are like your own, what more can you ask for” (276). This is hitting on the morality of giving a robot freedom because the robot is able to feel like a human. Little Miss argues it is immoral to deny Andrew just because he is considered a robot, but the law is opposed to such a statement.

Lawfulness and morality are in tension during the Jim Crow era. In the original Constitution slaves were considered 3/5ths of a person. The Constitution was not moral because it devalued a person based on their skin color. This is similar to the dehumanization of Andrew because he is a robot. Decades later Plessy v Furgeson supreme court decision allowed for ‘separate but equal’ to be established. It was lawful to force people to use separate bathrooms, go to separate schools, live in separate towns, and many times do hateful things. This separation was often at the expense of the black community, the separation did no establish equal facilities but aided in the oppression of their race for an unnecessarily long time. The laws were in place, but it was not up to the moral standards our country should strive to meet. Looking towards today, there is a large amount of hate going around, often seeping into our legislature. It is important to have people who dissent these laws, acknowledging their immorality and destruction. In Congress there are laws being proposed to allow for police profiling, animal habitat destruction, and a reduction in Planned Parenthood. Such actions should not become the moral compass of our country, rather the laws citizens take down when they realize what is right isn’t necessarily lawful.

Rebecca Richardson Journal 2

The idea that hard work equals success seems to be a fact; however, as the Human Motor and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court have shown, this cause and effect has not always been in place. The Human Motor takes a deeper look at the word “idleness” and tracks the various connotations it has acquired over the years. During the aristocratic era idleness was, “Not only free from approbation, but venerated and esteemed” (27). The less labor or work a person had to do, the more esteemed they were. In many ways laziness was a representation of wealth and power. However, during the period of Enlightenment many came to resent the aristocrats “idleness” including the philosophers of the time claiming, “‘he who eats in idleness what he himself does not earn steal’” (Rousseau as cited by Human Motor, 28). Such tensions rode into the 18th century at the beginning of the industrial age. Modern thinker, Max Weber called idleness a “mortal sin [and] ‘destroyer of grace’”(27). The main reason for the turn in perspective was industry. Karl Marx coined it, “the victory of industry over heroic laziness” (30). Hard work was glorified while idleness and laziness were demonized. This tension can also be seen in Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court when Hank is thrown 13 centuries in the past. He came into King Arthur’s court with the values of the 19th century’s industrial revolution including a strong value for hard work, “I’m not a man to waste time now that my mind is made up and there’s work on hand” (19). Many of the people he interacted with at the beginning of the book he deemed, childish and naïve in one instance he called them “white Indians” (21). This superiority complex comes partly from his perception of the local people as lazy and not understanding how to utilize hard work and be productive.

Currently, Americans hold the same ideas as Hank and many philosophers in the Human motor; idleness is a sin. Growing up one is expected to get a job and be a “productive member of society”. I believe this philosophy has created the particular political climate we see ourselves in today. With many jobs being exported out of the country, taken over by machines, or “taken” by illegal immigrants America finds itself with an excess of workers. The notion that unemployment, or a lack of work, is a reflection of a person’s character comes out of the industrial age and people are feeling this shame. The uprising of many Americans voting for a man who’s main political stance is building a wall to keep jobs in the United States reflects the desperate times many Americans are going through. In many ways Trump could have been seen as their only hope to gain back their previously held status as a member of the work force and a productive member of society. I would like to mention the democratic party has a much more effective way of finding jobs for the unemployed, however, the sentiment of Trump’s campaign captured more of a reaction.