Blog 4 – Mumford’s “The Automation of Knowledge”

The basic problem, as stated by Lewis Mumford in his article “The Automation of Knowledge”, is whether we continue to allow automation to take over every aspect of our lives in order to achieve the greater goal; or whether we should bring back the essential human element that is missing from this whole component.  Mumford believes that man has given over his position as director and become nothing more than a stagehand to automation and that the human element so quintessential to being human has lost its meaning on the way to knowledge.  Mumford issue is not that he believes automation is wrong, but that that it has taken away the very nature of what makes us human; our personality.

The quest for knowledge has always been the plight of man.  As asked by Douglas Adam’s; “what is the meaning to life the universe and everything? (Adam, 1985 p94), man has always sought to know more and do more.  Mumford states that it is this scientific ideology that has realized our dreams of advancement but at what cost.  Could something so important to mankind also be so damaging?  Much like Zeno of Elea, best known for the paradox of the Tortoise and Achilles, who attempted to show that life is not quite so simple but there are infinite answers and results; there is more than one truth.   I agree with Mumford that we have lost something in exchange for all the knowledge we have gained; however, to what extent is not quite as clear and distinct.  Could it be that the paradox of two truths exist; that automation is both beneficial and detrimental at the same time. There is no clear and distinct answer, but let’s just say that the error of our ways remains to be revealed.


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