Sunday, 24 March 2013

Slaves to the machines?

The sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov spoke of the concept of Singularity – the evolution of man and machine to form a new being, resulting from the rewiring of our brains as the result of the way we use and develop technology.

We are slaves to our machines.  I think Asimov would enjoy the irony of that.
Can you imagine life before computers?  Before mobile phones?  Before phones? Before TV?

Machines are writer’s friends in so many ways – they have provided us with so many opportunities to create work and get it published and accessible.  I remember typewriters, and the frustration of typing out a novel, using copious amounts of tippex, to realise that actually I need to move Chapter 2 to the end of the book.  Which often meant typing the whole lot out again.  Planning was essential in those days, using paper and pen to map out the structure.  It changed the creative process.

I love the flexibility of word processors and the way I can contact people using email.  The internet provides me with a 24 hour library for research.  But I do often feel like I am chained to my machines – the slavery of my own making.  After all, we do have choices.  But I also worry about the addictive nature of much of our digital technology, and the way we depend so much upon it.

I’ve always had a fascination with robotics and the way that we use machines and how we allow them to take over our lives. And the way that visionary writers such as Asimov and Philip K. Dick imagined futures that are genuinely prophetic.

I wonder what the future holds – will we become further fused with our machines or will there be a backlash? Is the tyranny of technology a double edged sword?

Check out some great articles on the topic here:

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