Response 5

Lewis Mumford: “The Automation of Knowledge”

“When our translation of organic and human aptitudes into their system-controlled mechanical counterparts has fully taken place, man will have lost the full use of even his physical organs. There are areas in this country today where people have already lost the free use of their legs; in many California cities pedestrians are arrested on sight as suspicious characters by the police. The next step will be to imprison anyone who uses his own voice to sing instead of turning on his transistor radio; even the possibility of indulging in autonomous daydreams has already been largely taken over by centrally directed TV and radio stations whose final advance will be to extend their operations to sleep” (Mumford 265).

Literally: Lewis Mumford believes that the rise of technology will result in the complete consumption of our humanity. For example, our arms, legs and even organs would be replaced by “system-controlled mechanical counterparts.” This causes in not only the loss of self control, but perhaps the loss of our will or determination as well. Mumford explains that when such a sight becomes common, anyone who displays voluntary movement will be considered suspicious and possibly arrested.

Intellectually: After analyzing Mumford’s statement, I wonder what other technologies may lead to the same result. if organs could be controlled by mechanical counterparts, then what’s stopping radios from replacing our singing voice? What potential does the computer, or perhaps the phone have in doing the same? What would they replace? As stated by Mumford, this would ultimately cause the possible imprisonment of those without these counterparts.

Emotionally: This passage makes me feel concerned for the future if such an event is bound to occur. Would we really sacrifice our humanity for mechanical counterparts? How would we deal with the consequences? What are the consequences? Although obtaining mechanical counterparts may increase our potential, it could also cause protests, and even wars by those who wish to keep their human selves intact.


Manuel Castells: “Occupy Wall Street”

“Occupied spaces also created a new form of time, which some in the camps characterized as a feeling of ‘forever.’ The routine of their daily lives was interrupted; a parenthesis was open with an undefined time horizon. Many thought that the occupation would last as long as the institutions remained unresponsive to their critiques and requests. Given the uncertainty of when and if the eviction would come, the occupations lived on a day-by-day basis, without deadlines, thus freeing themselves from time constraints, while rooting the occupation in everyday life experience“ (Castells 169).

Literally: Manuel Castells passage describes the waiting period of those who stayed in the occupation camps during the Occupy Wall Street movement. Occupants that waited in these camps stated it felt ‘forever’ as they did not think the occupation would last as long as it did. This waiting period was so great that it became known as “a new form of time.” The Occupants that decided to live in camps endured tough living conditions for quite some time.

Intellectually: This passage makes me wonder how strongly the occupants must have felt to live such a life for a long time. One occupier describes his experience as such: “[w]e are tired, and get wet and cold. Sharing Porta-Potties, walking 13 blocks to the showers the CWA lets us use and brushing our teeth and spitting into a soggy paper coffee cup takes its toll” (169). Although they could have left whenever they wished to, they did not. One question I ask is, was the end result worth all this trouble?

Emotionally: After reading Castells passage, I feel sorry towards those who participated in the event and stayed in the camps. Although this choice was under their own volition, living through such living conditions, for whatever amount of days, should not be something one should ever endure.

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