Sunday, April 16, 2017

Science in Fiction (#27): Beneath the Shine by Sarah Fine

Welcome to this month's Science in Fiction feature! Science in Fiction is a meme I created to showcase the wonderful aspects of science in Young Adult fiction novels. For more information and previous feature, check out the "Science in Fiction" tag!

This month, I'm featuring Beneath the Shine by Sarah Fine!

It is no secret that I love Sarah Fine's books. She has explored so many genres in both YA and adult, and I have yet to be really disappointed. Beneath the Shine is a YA science fiction novel. It is set in a futuristic dystopia world, in which robots are the primary workforce. Millions of people are living in poverty because they have no job, due to the rise of robots.

Today, I'm going to talk about the rise of machines and job loss!

This is a bit of a grim topic, because it is shocking and incredibly real. We all know about machinery taking jobs that are related to assembly lines - that sort of thing, in manufacturing. But machinery is on the rise, technology is on the rise, and there is no stopping the developments. According to CNN Money, there are 5 million fewer manufacturing jobs in the United States than there were in 2000, and this is because of the rise of machinery.

Also from CNN Money is the staggering fact that between 2000 and 2010, 87% of the manufacturing jobs lost were due to machinery (machines becoming more efficient), versus 13% from trade (trading with countries who have more efficient machinery, like China). Sure, efficient machinery sounds great, but that means fewer jobs for hard-working people. And who benefits? The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the cycle continues.

And how about robots? NBC News has a lot to say about the future of jobs and robots. According to NBC News, the following jobs might be completely taken over by robots in the future:

- Pharmacists
- Lawyers and paralegals
- Drivers
- Astronauts
- Store clerks
- Soldiers
- Babysitters
- Rescuers
- Certain types of reporters and journalists
(Source: NBC News)

Think about any futuristic movie you've seen - Star Wars, for example. C-3PO and R2-D2 are pretty important characters in the series. R2-D2 is basically a "driver" for Luke Skywalker - a copilot, if you will (in Episodes IV, V and VI). And the battle droid army in Episode II (and other Episodes) - perfect examples of robots being soldiers. When Luke lost his hand in Episode V, a droid/robot installed the new new one (a medical robot - doctor).

I have nothing against robots, or development in technology and efficiency. As the human population gets larger, we're bound to seek out the most efficient methods of production, and developments in technology is a great solution. But at the expense of millions of jobs and an exponential increase in poverty? Will governments divert money to support these people who have done nothing wrong, but are unemployed (not for lack of trying)? Time will tell. 

What are your thoughts on machinery taking over jobs? Robots replacing humans on those professions listed above, or any profession? Can you think of solutions to the inevitable poverty and unemployment problems that will result?


  1. This is a tough topic. I think it's inevitable that technology is going to take over so much, and don't think any government is prepared for it when it happens. Are there solutions? I want to think there are, I shudder to think that they're aren't.

    1. It is! There is no stopping the advancements. I feel like governments are already ill-prepared to deal with cyber security, let mass loss of jobs by humans to machines. :/

  2. I wish NBC News had told me that before I started law school, lol. (Although there are a lot of things lawyers/paralegals do that I can't see machines taking over and doing well.) But yeah, it's a conundrum. We don't want to prevent more efficient technology, but at the same time, tech rising in one area usually requires that the displaced workers be willing and able to transfer or learn new skills for another area with job opportunities. And if, at some point, there's a finite amount of job opportunities, then you potentially have real trouble. At the same time, I'm cautious of government-stepping-in scenarios because they immediately make me think of Brave New World and M.T. Anderson's Feed. ^^;

    1. LOL! I'd seen lawyers listed on several sites when I was researching for this site, but NBC was the most reputable.

      I'm curious to think what you consider new skills and new job opportunities! For example, let's say you are indeed displaced from your job ten years from now as a lawyer. What do you think you would try to learn and do? It's tough because I think many, many sectors are going to shrink. :o

  3. Great discussion we have here. I am not surprised by the rise of technology though. It does make me nervous about what will happen in the future. I mean even banks now use ATM's to do deposits and everything and taking the place of tellers and I like working with people more than machines. Although we have seen how movies like star wars and star trek affect the change in technology.

    1. Not at all surprising, but probably distressing, more than anything else. It'll be interesting (and scary) to see how advanced things get in the coming years!

  4. This is such a relevant subject. I agree that while technology is amazing, we shouldn't replace people with machinery and take away millions of jobs. Also I'm even more interested in Beneath the Shine after this review.

    1. Beneath the Shine captured the consequences of replacing humans with machines perfectly. It's scary!

  5. Interesting topic this week. I completely agree the way that machinery it taking over so many jobs by just making them automated is scary. I know a lot of brick and mortar stores are also closing since so many people shop online. Technology is really changing the world and I am not sure if we have even seen the half of it.

    1. RIGHT?! Just today, I found out that American Apparel is closing down. And that's not even a mom-and-pop type of store! :/


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