Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Chinese prisoners do physical labour by day and digital labour by night.

The unusual part is that the digital labour is more lucrative than the physical labour:
"Liu says he was one of scores of prisoners forced to play online games to build up credits that prison guards would then trade for real money. The 54-year-old ... reckons the operation was even more lucrative than the physical labour that prisoners were also forced to do.

"Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour," Liu told the Guardian. "There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn't see any of the money. The computers were never turned off." (The Guardian via Charlies Diary)
This skewing between reality and digital reality blows my mind.

Real slave labour to produce digital goods in a digital world which are sold for real money. The international "Gold Farming*" industry in online gaming is fascinating

It reminds me of people buying digital goods with real money for a digital farm on which you do digital work in order to support real needs. Which makes me wonder why anyone would ever give away real money (in a world with limited physical resources) for any cause if they aren't getting some sort of incentive in their digital life (a digital reality with unlimited digital resources).

This is the kind of stuff that is really going to mess with the way we think in the next decade.

*It's interesting to note that the stats mentioned in the Guardian's article were exact numbers mentioned in the Wikipedia article, only with no reference to the source or date of the studies. tsk-tsk

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