THE GLASS CAGE by Nicholas Carr


Automation and Us
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Serious technophobic exploration of the dangers of machines superseding the role of humans in the workforce.

Technology journalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist Carr (The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, 2010, etc.), the former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review, is on a selfless mission to warn humanity about the dangers of robots and computers making human beings obsolete in the world of work. Although the book is certainly more than a Luddite tirade about the increasing subservience of humans to the machines they manufacture, the author’s arguments can sometimes venture into paranoiac territory, seemingly more for shock value than anything else. But his core argument—that man’s own mental faculties, natural instincts and vital creativity are being dulled by dependence on machines—is well-argued, and he cites more than a few compelling instances in which this technological dependency has proved fatal—e.g., pilots overly accustomed to flying on computerized autopilot who, when forced to act manually, freeze up and make costly mistakes in otherwise routine situations. Carr also takes a critical look at the potential problems and contradictions inherent in new technology, such as Google Glass, designed to allow tech geeks to stay connected with cyberspace without becoming alienated from their surroundings while constantly checking text messages and such. The author proposes that human beings must take a more dominant and less dependent role in how computer technology is being implemented in society and not be mindlessly carried along by a blind faith in technological advancement—a task probably much easier said than done.

An important if occasionally overbearing study of how machines are making us less human and what we can do about it.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-393-24076-4
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2014


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