The Glass Cage: Automation and Us MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged
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Nicholas Carr is among the most lucid, thoughtful, and necessary thinkers alive. He’s also terrific company. The Glass Cage should be required reading for everyone with a phone. — Jonathan Safran Foer
Artificial intelligence has that name for a reason—it isn’t natural, it isn’t human. As Nicholas Carr argues so gracefully and convincingly in this important, insightful book, it is time for people to regain the art of thinking. It is time to invent a world where machines are subservient to the needs and wishes of humanity. — Don Norman, author of Things that Make Us Smart and Design of Everyday Things, director of the University of California San Diego Design Lab
Written with restrained objectivity, The Glass Cage is nevertheless scary as any sci-fi thriller could be. It forces readers to reflect on what they already suspect, but don't want to admit, about how technology is shaping our lives. Like it or not, we are now responsible for the future of this negligible planet circling Sol; books like this one are needed until we develop an appropriate operating manual. — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, professor of psychology and management, Claremont Graduate University
Engaging, informative …Carr deftly incorporates hard research and historical developments with philosophy and prose to depict how technology is changing the way we live our lives. — Publishers Weekly
Nick Carr is our most informed, intelligent critic of technology. Since we are going to automate everything, Carr persuades us that we should do it wisely—with mindful automation. Carr's human-centric technological future is one you might actually want to live in. — Kevin Kelly, Senior Maverick for Wired Magazine and author of What Technology Wants
Most of us, myself included, are too busy tweeting to notice our march into technological dehumanization. Nicholas Carr applies the brakes for us (and our self-driving cars). — Gary Shteyngart, author of Little Failure
Carr brilliantly and scrupulously explores all the psychological and economic angles of our increasingly problematic reliance on machinery and microchips to manage almost every aspect of our lives. A must-read for software engineers and technology experts in all corners of industry as well as everyone who finds himself or herself increasingly dependent on and addicted to gadgets. — Booklist, Starred Review
Fresh and powerful. — Mark Bauerlein (Weekly Standard)
Nick Carr is the rare thinker who understands that technological progress is both essential and worrying. The Glass Cage is a call for technology that complements our human capabilities, rather than replacing them. — Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus
A sobering new analysis of the hazards of intelligent technology. — Hiawatha Bray (Boston Globe)
The Glass Cage is a worthy antidote to the relentlessly hopeful futurism of Google, TED Talks and Walt Disney… The same way no popular conversation on cloning can be had without bringing to mind Michael Crichton's techno-jeremiad Jurassic Park, Carr's book is positioned to stake out similar ground: To suggest moral restraint on future development with a well-timed and well-placed ‘what-if?' — James Janega (Chicago Tribune)
A stimulating, absorbing read. — Michelle Scheraga (Associated Press)
An elegantly written history of what role robotics have played in our past, and the possible role that they may play in our future… The Glass Cage urges us to take a moment, to take stock, and to realize the price that we’re paying—if not right this second, then certainly at some point in the future—in order to live a life that’s made easier by technology. — Elisabeth Donnelly (Flavorwire)
Helps us appreciate why so-called gains of ‘superior results’ can come with a steep price of hard-to-see tradeoffs that are no less potent for being subtle and nuanced. — Evan Seliger (Forbes Magazine)
[A] deeply informed reflection on computer automation. — G. Pascal Zachary (San Francisco Chronicle)
Smart, insightful… paint[s] a portrait of a world readily handing itself over to intelligent devices. — Jacob Axelrad (Christian Science Monitor)
Forces the reader to think about where we're going, how fast, and what it all means. — Phil Simon (Huffington Post)
Brings a much-needed humanistic perspective to the wider issues of automation. — Richard Waters (Financial Times)
One of Carr’s great strengths as a critic is the measured calm of his approach to his material—a rare thing in debates over technology… Carr excels at exploring these gray areas and illuminating for readers the intangible things we are losing by automating our lives. — Christine Rosen, Democracy
There have been few cautionary voices like Nicholas Carr’s urging us to take stock, especially, of the effects of automation on our very humanness—what makes us who we are as individuals—and on our humanity—what makes us who we are in aggregate. — Sue Halpern (New York Review of Books) --This text refers to an alternate MP3 CD edition.
About the Author
Nicholas Carr is the author of The Shallows, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, as well as The Big Switch and Does IT Matter? His articles and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Wired, and the New Republic, and he writes the widely read blog Rough Type. He has been writer-in-residence at the University of California, Berkeley, and an executive editor of the Harvard Business Review.
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If you've not read The Shallows I recommend that you consider reading it first because many of the thoughts and ideas from it are continued, developed and extended in The Glass Cage. It's not a necessary prerequisite but it would enhance your appreciation of Carr's arguments.
Carr's central thesis can be summed up in a quote often attributed to Marshall McLuhan, "we shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us."
Carr's point, which he develops with many intriguing examples ranging from airline pilots, through doctors, photographers, architects, and even to farmers, is that this Faustian pact with technology comes at a cost. The cost, in Carr's view, is a loss of direct, experiential, formative contact with our work. The consequences of this slow loss of familiarity and connection with our work are subtle, insidious and will only increase while we follow this technocentric approach to automation.
Carr is excellent at making his case. Most of his examples are familiar and those that less so, such as the automation of legal and medical opinions are interesting in that they affect us all.
I felt that where Carr was less strong was in proposing solutions to the problems he raises. He works hard at explaining an alternative vision calling on the poetry of Robert Frost's as a springboard to a more humanistic approach to developing tools, but it is hard work selling an alternative to the easy, convenient future that so many of us seem to crave.
Ultimately it may be that Carr's biggest contribution will not be to single-handedly derail the future that Google, Apple, and Amazon wish to sell us, an exceedingly unlikely outcome, but to at least make us aware that there is a choice that we are making when we choose the frictionless path to the future, and that we should carefully consider that choice before we make it.
After this book I am looking at technology in a new light.
But what about that vast array of knowledge, accessible to all at the touch of a finger? While many still believe that it allows anyone to learn about anything instantly, in fact it seems to narrow the focus of the human being. You don't have to see or hear anything you don't already agree with; you increasingly self-segregate among like-minded people, existing inside a mirrored bubble that reflects only you. Add to that the usual uses of the digital device -- pop culture trivia, cute viral videos, endless porn, etc. -- and it turns out that very few people are actually expanding their knowledge & experience. They haven't grasped the difference between a constant stream of information bits & a wider, more coherent whole that those bits can create. They focus on the incredibly rich, detailed, shiny surface & never look below it ... and all too often, there's nothing beneath that surface for them, either, certainly nothing of real substance.
What Carr is finally exploring is just how much of our innate human potential we willingly & happily give up for the promise of ease & efficiency -- and it turns out that we get neither, not in the sense of becoming a more wholly developed human beings. Instead, more & more people settle for an simulation of human life, one that's fast, laden with sensation & instant gratification, but lacking in any depth. I'm reminded of an old science-fiction story by John Campbell entitled "Twilight" (circa 1934) -- in the far future, technological supremacy has made human life perfect, with every need & desire attended to with a mere thought ... but curiosity, active intelligence, and genuine quality of inner life have long since vanished. It's precisely this sort of future that Carr is warning us against, by reminding us that our bargain with technology may well be a Faustian one in which we gladly surrender what makes us truly human, all for the sake of shiny distractions. We already let devices do much of our remembering & even thinking for us -- how long before we let them do our feeling for us as well? Most highly recommended!