In “Division of Labor,” your characters literally “use it or you lose it.” Where did the idea for this story come from?
The idea came in the most literal form possible, which is that I was working very hard at a desk job and felt my physical condition deteriorating. So I just extrapolated from that.
If you had to focus on one part of yourself and let everything else melt away, what would you choose to preserve?
I would say ears, as I find hearing to be the sense that is most independent from everyday life in terms of giving satisfaction, and presumably if I were reduced to a single organ, everyday life would be a thing of the past.
Renny’s unmoving protest reminded me of Buddhist monks who’ve used self-immolation to get their point across. Did this imagery play into how you constructed that scene?
I can’t say that this imagery was on the surface of my mind when I wrote this scene, but it must have been somewhere in the back of my head, because now that you mention it the parallels are quite strong.
Given the way we currently live our lives, do you think ultra-specialization is unavoidable?
I think that ultra-specialization will continue to be the trend until advances in AI/robotics begin to surpass all human abilities, at which point we will all be generalists again because there will be no point in devoting your life to a single narrow occupation (like writing!) just to be half as good as a machine. I’d also note that the benefits of specialization may outweigh the costs. My short story is a dystopia, but that may only be because it doesn’t show all of the benefits of specialization. Similarly, we never find out in 1984 what the exact benefits of living in Oceania are, and if it might not after all be preferable to the available alternatives.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Hard to say. Writing is a tough thing to do for me. This is my first published story, so my ambition for now is to have a second published story.
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