Work and Wealth

Prosperity Through Technology

In the world of total recall, society appears to be very prosperous. Outside of the Mars colony, most people seem to be enjoying a comfortable life. Despite Douglas Quaid being a simple construction worker, his home seems luxurious, complete with all the modern amenities. His living room is spacious, his kitchen is filled with various appliances, and the walls are able to display whatever image the user wants. The public facilities such as the subway seem clean, sterile and modern. People are well dressed and there doesn’t seem to be any homeless people either.


While some jobs, like Quaid’s, still appear to require human effort, other jobs like the Taxi Drivers have been rendered obsolete by machines. It is difficult to estimate the scale of the automation of jobs, and we don’t see that many machines other than the Johnny Cabs doing human work. This is counterintuitive, as the relatively complex task of driving is performed by machines, while simple jobs like receptionists and construction workers are done by humans. We can postulate that receptionists still exist since people prefer to interact with other people instead of a machine, but it is confusing as to why some of the other jobs are not automated. For example, the full-body scan at the airport is operated by at least five different people, inspecting each individual person. This seems like something that could be automated if you have image recognition advanced enough to drive cars. The only logical conclusion here is that automation is a relatively new concept in the world of Total Recall, and still hasn’t been perfected enough in some areas to be used practically.

Digitized Currency

In several points during the movie, Douglas Quaid appears to conduct transactions without the use of physical money. In the Hilton Hotel, he gets a room simply by having his ID card scanned. The currency known as “Credits” appears to be universally adopted, and is able to exist in both physical (the cash he gets in the briefcase from himself), and digital form. The Hilton employee plugs Quaid’s ID card into the machine, and there doesn’t appear to be any sort of authentication for the transaction to occur. In several other points during the movie, such as with the Johnny Cabs, Quaid also appears to pay for the services without using physical money.

This kind of technology seems very similar to the current Cryptocurrencies that exist. While bitcoin are almost never used in a physical format, a physical version of Bitcoin does actually exist. Since 2011, projects such as Casascius Bitcoins were able to bring physical bitcoin that also work digitally, so the movie’s technology is not that far-fetched from today’s cryptocurrency phenomenon.