Playing On Our Hopes And Fears: Technological Unemployment After the End of the Cold War

Recently, I wrote a Science for Peace documentary on technology and unemployment. Since then, most of the filming has taken place and the final form of the documentary is beginning to emerge. The interviews have been extraordinarily good, I think because we are addressing a topic that is of burning concern to a great many people, and which has not yet been properly discussed. We are also looking to see whether the sound track of the interviews might be used for a radio documentary, perhaps for the CBC Ideas program.

Briefly, the outline of the documentary is as follows. Traditionally universities have been elite institutions. They have been the places where the elite reproduces itself. They have been centres for the expropriation of knowledge from populations, and the use of that knowledge to dominate and exploit those populations. Dominated and exploited groups have, however, been successful in gaining entrance to the university and partially democratizing it. The question is whether globalization, and introduction of new technologies, will further or reverse, the democratization of the university?

To examine this question, the documentary looks into the introduction of new technology in the University of Toronto library system. It interviews professional librarians, library workers, intellectual workers at the University of Toronto who represent the aspirations of subordinated groups, and scientists and technologists in Science for Peace who are concerned about the direction of science and technology in our society.

As we have been interviewing graduate students, Science for Peace members, librarians, library workers, experts on technology, and others, it has become clear that, besides trying to produce a catalyst for discussion and change, the central concern of the documentary is to build bridges which introduce to each other the different groups. Groups who are thinking about how to negotiate the dilemmas presented by the rapid introduction of new technology at the University of Toronto.

We are now starting to edit the interviews. To do this we have a small grant of $300 from the Hart House Film Club, but we need a bit more. So if you would like to support this project, we would be grateful for any financial help. A suggested contribution is $10-$25, or more! Cheques should be made out to Science for Peace, and earmarked for “Documentary”