While reading Mumford’s, The Automation of Knowledge, I found that there were two passages that connected, and stood out to me.
“Shall we, in other words, restore man to his central position as the actor and director in a historic drama; or shall we banish him into the wings […] eventually as a desperately bored supernumerary with no more active responsibility than a union stagehand in a modern drama that doesn’t use scenery?” (263) “In short, man and the machine were merely exchanging roles. The new machine was man—but only a fractional man—writ large. The new man was the machine—or what was left over from the machine—writ small” (265).
The first passage is stating that if we don’t take back control from technology over our lives, people will end up “useless” to the world. It is saying we have two choices: Disappear into a world of machinery, where there is nothing we have to think, or do, for ourselves—therefore erasing organic thought; or, bring man back as the “boss,” and watch our culture flourish from both man and machine working together. The second explains how man has given over his responsibilities to machines, therefore losing the creativity of individuality and imagination. The machine now does what man used to (and was meant to.) Unfortunately, when a machine acts for man, it is missing the elements of being “alive,” it is artificial. And, man loses important parts of culture and self by giving over everything to machines.
These passages connect to me because one leads to the other. I see the losses of salient, meaningful, human forms of communication, knowledge, and “homemade” items. If there is a machine that can make a necklace quicker, yet it still looks the same, does that make it identical to the one made by a human hand? No—for if it is made there is a person with the creativity and knowledge that created it, there is meaning behind the jewelry. A machine does not know why it does what it does, it just follows what it is designed (by man) to do. These passages further support my fears of technology, specifically the Internet, and it’s sinister design to take over the world. We have given over so many important rights and duties to machinery, and what will be left for people? Humans seem to be becoming unnecessary—that sentence alone makes me think of all the jobs that are now done by machines, all the people who never leave their houses, and all the culture humanity can offer is being lost due to our obsession with technology, and laziness.