The Use of Machines and Autonomy of Humans

I am reading a book called ‘Better Off – Flipping the Switch on Technology’ by Eric Brende.  The author spent a year with what most people would call an Amish community (although not strictly true).  More to report on this book as I progress through it.  I would like to share with you an excerpt from an interview on the C-Realm Podcast (Episode 207) with Professor Corey Olsen (aka the Tolkien professor).  Olsen talks about Tolkien’s views on progress.  I am mindful about what technological choices I am making.  Here is the excerpt:-

“[9:00] He [Tolkein] often called the modern age the robot age. What he primarily meant by that was the replacement of people by machines.  He wasn’t just thinking what we would call robots, he would call in that sense a dishwasher a robot because it is doing work that a person would have done.  He had a problem that the work and craftsmanship of people being replaced by machines.

[17:00]. CS Lewis would often we often say, when we talk about the progress of technology and the progress of science and through scientific advancement, we mean mans ever increasing power over nature.  And Lewis was always quick to say, ‘what that actually means is the power of some men over other men’.

That was the kind of thing Tolkien was talking about.  Even without thinking about the practical things of what it actually means to be say, building these new houses and how other human beings are genuinely being affected.  Even just morally speaking, the mindset that [progress] trains you to have is that of domination and is always at the core of all outlooks in all of Tolkien’s fiction. That desire to dominate all things and living people; other wills subservient to your will.

That one of the things he kept pointing to and that is the spirit of the technological advance.:-

We want to do more.

We want to have more control.

We want to have more power, even if it is an illusory power we want to feel we are sitting here at the epicentre of this world we can control.

And now it is global and how everyone is excited about how everything is global and that kind of compounds the problem.  ”



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