Proposed Trope: Replaced By Our Creation

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This Trope is a combination of Machine Labor, Human Labor, Proletariat, and Physcial labor. The idea is to examine the relationship between machine labor and human labor. What kinds of interactions do machine and man have in the workplace? What happens when machinces can more effectively do the physical jobs commonly associated with proletariats? This relationship between man and machine could prove to be an important idea in the science fiction readings this class will be exploring.


Appearences in Class Reading(so far)

  • E.M.Forsters-"The Machine Stops"- This story illistrated a world in where machines do everything for the humans that created them. People rarely leave their rooms and have little face to face interactions with others. This shows an idea that machines can be so advanced, they cause people loose there humanity. This occurs, in this case, when the machine takes away everything that made them human. E.M.Forster seems to believe that if machines preform all the acts that humans usually preform, that it will ultimately end in disater.
  • Marge Piercy-"He, She, and It"--This story describes a new cyborg, Yod, who is created to emulate a human. In this society, it is illegal to create a robot that looks like a person. Yod is programmed to satisfy and protect other people. Though he is a cyborg, he looks human, he claims to experience human emotion, and he even satisfies sexually. Though he is unable to provide for himself, he yearns to work and make a living in order to support himself and those he is programmed to protect. If he were able to do so, there is not much that could stop him from replacing men as workers, soldiers, and even sex partners.
  • William Gibson-"Neuromancer"-This story follows Case as he works to gain access into the cyber world.  This does not relate as explicitly to this trope as the previous two stories; rather, it is relevent in a more subtle, implicit way.  In this story, technology is used in many fashions to exceed the limitations of the human body.  Technological modifications on the body are present in almost all characters, from the plug on the back of Case's neck that allows him to jack into cyberspace, to the retractable knives that act as claws in Molly.  Thus, people are replacing their own body with technology.
  • Bruce Sterling-"Schismatrix"-Characters in "Schismatrix" also have technological modifications on their body, but in several different ways.  The Shapers focus on genetic modification, while Mechanists use actual physical manipulations in order to exceed bodily limitations.  The struggle between Shapers and Mechanists show that the differences in technological modifications are enough to feud over.  In the same way as Gibson's "Neuromancer" displays replacement by our own creations, Sterling's "Schismatrix" too demonstrates how people are replacing their own body with technology.
  • Peter Watts-"Flesh Made Word"-The setting of the story is one where highly advanced simulation programs that can mimic human behavior to incredible (and eerie) detail are ubiquitous. In the story, despite all efforts by Lynne, Wescott's lover, she is replaced by the simulation program of Wescott's deceased wife, Carol.

Appearences in Other Media

  • I Robot
  • Futurama - In this year 3000 futuristic world dreamed up by "The Simpsons" creator, Matt Greoning, robots and man interact and work together on a daily basis.
  • Demolition Man
  • Wall-E- A computer prevents humans from returing home after earth has been made livable after aparent disater. Humans have become fat and useless over their many generations on the ship.
  • Eagle Eye In this Shilo Bluff thriller, the goverment project "Eagle Eye" goes all wrong when their super computer decides that the entire US government should be killed, and only the twin brother of a work on the project can stop it.

Compairisons to Other Intersections and Tropes

This trope is similar to "My job is fun, and I don't want a robot doing it! in a way because it it about robot/human interactions is the workplace. This trope, however, focuses more on the possibilies of humans and robots working together while "My job is fun, and I don't want a robot doing it!," is more centeralized on the taking over of a livelyhood, or pleasure as a consequence of a human working.

This is also connected to Overpowering Creation, The Truth, and Aren't We All Jackasses?.

Trope Justification

Studying science fiction is an interesting way to look at labor that doesn’t have to focus on the restrictions of current reality. The nature of science fiction is to have many ideas and possibilities for the future or speculation of what may come. An important theme in science fiction is the development of artificial intelligence and what these machines could ultimately be used for. Many ideas include the use of robots and artificial intelligence to preform many forms of labor. Its amazing to think that even today, many tasks are automated such that humans don’t have to do many tasks that are dangerous or undesirable. If technology continues to develop it is not out of the question, and often fantasized by science fiction writers, that artificial intelligence can be used to complete even the most advanced of tasks. If this becomes the case robots could be used to do much of the labor man once did, even update and fix themselves. Therefore, studying the relationship between machine labor and human labor and that effect the relationship would on humans is important theme to study.

Elimination of the need for human labor is relevant to many science fiction applications. In this class already, some of the ideas of what machines could be capable of can be seen in E.M. Fosters, “The Machine Stops[1] In science fiction the idea of machine replacing humans in some forms of labor is not an unusual theme that will be recurring in many of our science fiction readings. This relationship between human and machine labor is an interesting idea that has many levels that have the possibility of being involved in this classes studies this semester. Machine and man working together fluently and effectively, or the possible issues that could arise when machines can be used to replace proletariate workers for are just the beggining of possibiliy. In Demolition Man, lower class citizens are forced to live underground as undesireables because they have been replaced by more effective, and cheaper, machines.

This trope would be a great addition to the class discussion because of the possibilities this theme would bring up that are related to the larger overall theme of labor. Tropes already brought up focus more on specific topics, while this trope takes a bunch of them and relates them together through a relevant, and occurring idea. The effects of machine labor replacing human labor and being a social and economic problem could be widely interpreted. What would happen if robot workers made lower class laborers obsolete? How much more productive could machinces eventually make production? Machines preforming labor alongside humans on in stead of humans occures in many science fiction stories and will be relevant throughout this class.

Addressing a number of tropes instead of focusing on just one, this trope opens up a great possibility of different ideas to contribute to class discussion. This trope will go into more of the relationship between the machine laborers and human laborers. Interaction in the workforce, replacement of human laborers, and the control of artificial intelligence in labor are all centralized around this trope. Proletariat and machine interaction could be an important relationship in science fiction because the proletariats would be the ideal candidates to be replaced by cheaper and better labor. Perhaps this will benefit them because it will ultimately optimize their production possibilitys. These topics and many more will be discussed in this class, and this trope will broaden our disscusion possibilities.


  1. Forster, E.M. (1909). The Machine Stops.
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