Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Glass Cage by Nicholas Carr

It is always fascinating to ponder the motivations of human beings, especially when people are not aware of what influences them, or how they will react in certain situations. Often we say we will do something (regarding a purchase or a vote or a hypothetical choice), but research reveals that we didn't do what we thought we would. In THE GLASS CAGE by Nicholas Carr, the author examines how technology has changed us, and how our relationship with it is fraught with an uneasy tension. As automation replaces jobs, and robots perform skills once requiring human hands and minds, the displaced workers may find other jobs sitting in front of computer terminals, but they are trading the source of tactile and physical satisfaction they once got with increasing leisure, which leads to boredom and health concerns. The author argues that technology is inevitable, and has changed the world more than any other influence (including wars or expanding empires), so it is not the enemy, (and can be used to expand human experience and solve problems), but we need to understand how it influences us in order to avoid its pitfalls. Read by Jeff Cummings, the audiobook is rich in the cognitive sciences of psychology and medicine, plus robotics and also philosophy. The focus is on achieving equilibrium in order to assure a happier future, with historical contexts supplied to widen our conception of both our past and future horizons. The future is unknowable, and so predictions of it (particularly involving computer intelligence) can be dicey, but Carr is certainly one of the most grounded and listenable of science writers, lent more listenable here by a skillful narrator who never lets loose of his narrative reins. 
     

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