Friday, March 03, 2023

Predicting Fiction

      Space ethicist and astrophysicist Erika Nesvold is concerned that space workers might be particularly vulnerable to exploitation in the same way isolated workers are on Earth: "The workers [Thai fishermen] would be taken out to sea. Their passports would be taken away. They could be out there for years; there were lots of abuses that weren’t being monitored. She could foresee the same thing happening if you’re going off to work in space on a rocket you don’t control. No one’s there monitoring the situation."

      Ms. Nesvold likens the situation of workers in space to the people who built the early transcontinental railroads in the U. S.: "...the work took place in isolated, hazardous environments with hazardous technology -- at the time, it was explosives -- and the supply lines were tenuous. Chinese immigrant laborers were exploited. There was a lot of prejudice against them; they were not paid equally to other, white railroad workers; and when they tried to protest, because they were so isolated, the companies would do things like cut off their supply lines to break a strike."

      If that sounds familiar, it might be because you read or watched The Expanse, in which Belters, who live and work on space stations, asteroids and similar built environments, face that kind of treatment.  This is a major driver of the plot.

      She's written a book about space ethics and there's an interview with her at Wired.


Paul said...

That's my goddaughter!! Thanks for spreading the word. 😊

Roberta X said...

It's a small world but my goodness, I keep finding hidden passageways.