The Hunger Games and Impact of Automation

What has “The Hunger Games” got to do with the impact of automation?

I am a fan of the series of the books and the movies. However, find that there is something very illogical about the whole setting. No, I am not talking about any specific situation on any specific element of the story. Neither it is about any of the character or how they behave. The story line is gripping and all the characters are interesting and likable. Also, there is nothing much to complaint about the detailing of the situation and the elaboration of the story line.

So, where is the illogic and what is the link with impact of automation?

The setting of the story is about a technologically advanced civilization. They can fly around in hovercraft, heal any injuries at will, create mutant creatures at the click of a mouse, manipulate nature in the hunger games arena with no difficulty, project pictures anywhere and so on. They don’t seem to be facing any environmental challenge. Neither are they facing any energy crisis. In short, their command of technology is way ahead of where we are today.

OK … but where the illogic and what is the link with impact of automation?

If you have so much technology under your control then why do you have to miners to dig out coal? You can simply design machines to do the work. Same thing can be said about harvesting crops and most of what happens in other districts. Why spend so much time, energy and resources to exploit people? Why depend on the people of the districts to maintain your lifestyle? It is such a risky option.

It is so much easier to just automate all the processes, build machines which can do the work and eliminate the dependencies. It is also much less risky. People can revolt, machines won’t.

Unless the whole nation is made up of people who take sadistic pleasure in brutalizing people, why choose a path which is fraught with so much risk?

The whole setting reminds you of Roman civilization. The tributes coming into the arena in chariots – reminds you of Ben-Hur. The game arena is a very large scale amphitheater. Rome had to depend on slaves to maintain their way of life. They did not have, at their command, technologies available to Capitol of Panem.

There lies the illogic of the whole situation!

When the western colonization started slaves were needed for sugar plantation, for growing spices. Then industrial revolution happened. I don’t think that it is a coincidence that the first country to abolish slavery was the leader in industrial revolution!

End of colonization happened because it was no longer profitable to maintain a colony.

The impact of automation is hard to predict. We don’t know what will be impact of job loss through automation. Andrew McAfee, in his TED Talk on Are droids taking our jobs? says that:

“… I am very confident, what we’re going to do is reduce poverty and drudgery and misery around the world. I’m very confident we’re going to learn to live more lightly on the planet …”

So, you see, The Hunger Games scenario is absolutely illogical!



3 Responses to “The Hunger Games and Impact of Automation”
  1. Sudhir Desai says:

    I do not watch Hunger Games, so I cannot critique it at all. However, I can say one thing – there are many ways to understand the phenomenon. In this particular case it depicts a world, which includes many sub-cultures and therefore many economies – not just the economies of exchange. The economies of exchange manifest in the material worlds you describe and their associated challenges of productivity, automation etc. Perhaps, that is not the large narrative here when seen through the cultural/social lens. The real conflicts that are playing out, are conflicts of values between the different subcultures and their worldviews which are reflected in the systems that you see. The characters belong to these different subcultures and are also evolving or coevolving. Perhaps that is what is really interesting. The worlds we live in are mostly illogical anyway!

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