Is Nanotechnology A Form of Digital Labor?

Crossposted from My Blog

In Lisa Nakamura’s article “Indigenous Circuits: Navajo Women and the Racialization of Early Electronic Manufacture,” she states the following:

“Digital labor is usually hidden from users in closed factories in Asia, visible to us only as illegally recorded cell phone video on Youtube or through the efforts of investigative reporters who overcome significant barriers to access – again, nothing to see,” (938).

While reading through The Bohr Maker, this statement almost immediately caught my attention in that it resembled much of the circumstances Southeast Asia was undergoing in the novel. In the book, the audience is introduced to a young woman named Phousita. Phousita is shown to live in an unnamed shantytown, assumed to be a region located in Southeast Asia. While Phousita’s living conditions initially appear to be a major issue, the state of affairs regarding where she lives is revealed to be a whole other problem.

The Bohr Maker by Linda Nagata

As nanotechnology is presented to be a key subject within The Bohr Maker, it is discovered that Phousita’s planet home is a locality in which the Commonwealth, a police-like force, do not standardize nor inspect the use of it as often as they do other places. Because I refer to nanotechnology as a digital labor, due to it being created by intelligent minds and people, I find myself relating Nakamura’s article to the novel in that both populaces discussed find themselves restricted from witnessing the process of how nanotechnology works and what it can offer to society.

As the narrative progresses, Phousita unknowingly finds herself infected with the power of the Bohr Maker, a criminal piece of nanotechnology that holds significant function for those who come in contact with it. While digital labor is something that barely any people in Phousita’s slum have ever encountered, it becomes visible to people through Phousita’s newly enhanced abilities (bodily changes) she received from the Bohr Maker. Because the Bohr Maker is a prohibited device that the Commonwealth does not want anyone to know about, it ties in with Nakamura’s statement in that digital labor in Southeast Asia goes unseen and unacknowledged unless obtained illegally. Since Phousita garners new, impressive skills acquired by the Bohr Maker, the reader comes to understand the possibilities and wonders the inventors of nanotechnology had in mind when producing it.

Nanotechnology Can Change Us

After reading the majority of The Bohr Maker, I’ve come to recognize how much work and intellect goes into generating the scope of technology, but I’ve also learned that while technology is created with good intentions, there are still individuals who remain distrustful of it due to the immense power it can possess.

1 thought on “Is Nanotechnology A Form of Digital Labor?

  • After reading your blog post, a question that came up during our discussion today comes to mind. Where do we draw the line? In our first week we talked about our fear of technology, and in many cases many of us expressed a sense of distrust in technology that was already have (driverless cars), despite our dependency on technology. To what extent do you think the use of nanotechnology to produce fluff crosses the line? Does the Bohr Maker? Nikko? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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