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Benjamin C. Kinney @BenCKinney
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Next up, a talk I've been eagerly waiting for: "Cops on Mars: Policing & Weaponization of Space – In the Imagination & Beyond" by Lucianne Walkowicz (@shaka_lulu). #SoCIA18
Looking at the real-world implications of how we imagine space settlement. Specifically today, the placement of law enforcement in future space scenarios.
Some great historical notes about what we thought about Mars. "Mars is Populated by One Giant Thinking Vegetable" is probably the winner.
Okay, what about community roles on a future Mars society (discussed with teenagers in a workshop). After a question: should we be including police as an example of a community role? Their role depends a lot on how community members perceive the role of police...
...and especially in USA, that perception of the police role is drastically divided, especially by race. (Lots of data presented to support that gulf in perception, you don't need me to recount it here.)
But: vicarious experiences are important for developing perceptions of police: 44% of black people say "someone I know has experienced harassment/violence from law enforcement."
Whereas white people are raised that police are at least neutral (you can call 911 in an emergency), while in many black people there is intergenerational knowledge & cautionary tales about how to conduct yourself around police.
So, these folks at Chicago Adler Planetarium decided to drop mention of police as a "community role" (not knowing in advance who their workshop participants would be).
Let's bring this back to Mars. Imagination is plans! We could very well go there for real, in a generation or two or whatever. It's not all necessarily fiction.
As of 2018, UAE has a Mars City plan - a city-sized Mars simulation. And Abu Dhabi produced an "Autonomous Space Police" plan! (Oooh, it used the word 'blockchain,' so vereh high-tech.)
Data from space resources may be used to monitor citizens un questionable ways. Plans "for Mars" are also plans for Earth.
IOW, "plan for Mars" is a way to put a shiny gloss on things that will be "tested" on Earth. Like Abu Dhabi's so-called "space police" automation ideas.
So, back to their workshop, after they dropped police from the list. They had a mix of black/white kids. And lo, early on, a white kid offered "Policemen!" as community members.
And later on, other kids (3rd graders!) started asking about consequences of police shooting people in Mars environment.
Even though a peer had introduced the idea of Mars Police, it was enough to keep some kids focused on the implications of police killing people.
The appearance of law enforcement in these narratives can interrupt/derail students' participation, for a substantial minority of the population.
Space exploration contexts can end up as whimsical backdrop that helps continue problematic systems!
(We are recommended to google UAE Mars City Experience for a hilarious promotional video, but no time to watch it now.)
Q&A time. Very few community roles are neutral acts [to include]! For example, government itself can be contentious. Response: police exacerbate this problem b/c of its role in maintaining hierarchies. Contrast with fire departments.
...Can't prescriptively define community roles. The real point is for people leading discussions of this sort to have some broader perspective on what is inclusive vs exclusive.
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