This panel takes the Future of Work conversation beyond the bromides of today by meditating on yesterday’s visions of our future, as encapsulated by Philip K. Dick’s classic science fiction story “Autofac” and its recent adaptation for Amazon’s “Electric Dreams” video anthology. Participants include Dr. Simone Browne, Associate Professor in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies, Director of the Good Systems Critical Surveillance Inquiry (CSI) Research Focus Area, and author of Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness; Nitin Verma, an advanced graduate student in the School of Information whose research concerns political and scientific misinformation and the ethical issues raised by machine learning technology; and the celebrated cyberpunk writer and UT graduate Bruce Sterling.
You can watch the “Electric Dreams” episode, Autofac, with Amazon Prime!
- 0:00 Introduction
- 0:50 Panel begins
- 7:16 – 13:38 Simone Brown discusses Amazon’s treatment of warehouse workers and describes how it is similar in ideology to a 1930’s prototype of a “mechanical slave”.
- 16:20 – 19:50 Simone Brown describes the conditions in which the unregulated waste-work of recycling technology takes place.
- 44:27 – 46:09 Bruce Sterling explains the sudden emergence of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) in the internet artworld, and how they have changed the economic prospects of many internet artists through the involvement of cryptocurrencies.
- 56:20 – 57:45 Nitin Verma describes the future intersections between blockchain and the detection of synthetic media across multiple online mediums.
- 1:05:42 – 1:08:10 Neville Hoad explores the various themes of Autofac, centering around capitalism, conservatism, and reproduction, as well as the loss of any human control over one’s destiny.
- 1:22:20 – 1:24:32 Nitin Verma describes the future of artistic media and how it may be infused with synthetic art and storylines created by artificial intelligence.