Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Creepy Dystopian Reality mirrors Cyber Fiction

Somewhere downstream from the economic churn of the cyber affluent, layers of humans pry and burn minerals and the occasional component from e-Waste to live on less than $100 USD a month.
A man smelts cadmium-laden circuit boards for steel
A massive alluvial fan of e-Waste is spreading across Asia at an alarming rate. Illegal [unlicensed] 'kabadi wallahs' call for scrap on their daily runs through the alleyways.  Buying and selling here has the feel of an illegal drug deal [or something decidedly cyber from Neil Stephenson].
e-Waste deal going down in a Delhi alley
Circuit boards and plastic are smashed to extract components in Ghana
Ripping wires to salvage metals in South China
Dealers make trades and sell extracted components to others who smelt them or resell them.  Some stuff just ends up back in cyberspace - posted by weight on eBay.

picture found on eBay search for e-Waste
52 lb load of medium-high grade circuit boards posted for $110 USD on eBay
Crushing and stripping have their place, but the preferred method of extraction is burning. Metric tons of plastic and hyper toxic materials are converted to gasses for our atmospheric pleasure.
"Cooking Off" motherboards
Burning is the preferred way to recover copper
e-Waste is a poison generated on the crest of economic progress.  As usual, the fallout settles in the lower economic strata affecting the poorest counties and people the most.  These images give me a feeling that the dystopian future imagined by cyber fiction writers has already arrived.


note: the images were obtained from a Google Image search, the sources of the images are marked in the alt text.