Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sleep Dealer: Two Hours Of REM, Just $25!


The title of this movie is a little misleading, it doesn't have anything to do with a dystopian future where sleep has become a commodity, that you find shady guys in back alleys pandering out of their trench coats. I probably would have liked that movie a little more.

Sleep Dealer is about a near future, where all of the manual labor from the US is outsourced to Mexico through telepresence technology. Construction, janitor work, even picking oranges out of trees is all done by robots, which are controlled by people jacked into a computer on the other side of the border. I'm sure this makes sense from the angle that immigrant workers are no longer required to actually immigrate, instead they can stay in their own country and it's easier for the US government to still tax their wages, except it's no longer an income tax, but a telepresence tax of some such. My problem with the concept is that I just can't grasp a world where making and maintaining a fleet of expensive robots, and then putting them under the control of completely unskilled labor is a wise investment. I can totally get behind the idea of using telepresence for skilled labor, doctors, engineers, or hell, even people that actually have construction experience. The main character in sleep dealer, however, is a farmer, who journeys to the big city, gets some black market ports, and then is instantly welding girders.

There are other aspects of the concept, such as the ports that you get on the street don't have any safeguards against power surges or computer viruses, so if the "factory" that you work on cuts corners (they all do) then you run the risk of being blinded, maimed, or outright killed by the equipment.

It's an interesting concept, and one that I'd read an entire book about (I think I might have already). But the movie doesn't really do a lot with it. It constantly feels like something is about to happen, some great revolution, or something's going to go horribly wrong, and it just never really does. Give it a watch if you're curious, but don't expect it to be very entertaining

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