The Age of Automation

November 23, 2009

Hall, George M.  The Age of Automation.  Praeger: Wesport, CN 1995

From the chapter “The Frankenstein Issue”:

6 themes are discussed which cover the Frankenstein issue, which is the idea of science controling the components of living systems.  There is Golem, which is a nonliving system which is given living attributes.  Lucifer is a controlling machine or human which dictates the actions of someone.  Frankenstein and android are the ideas of a creating something that is alive and of which we do not have control.  Prometheus holds the idea that there can be too much knowledge which subsequently destroys.  The final theme, Human automata, suggests that humans are subversive and must be controlled through scientific means.

These themes have existed ever since humans perceived the difference between human and automata.  The fear associated with automata is one which varies by culture and by person, but what are the sources of this fear?  What is the devil behind the machine?

The commonality between the above themes is that something which isn’t, becomes.  And this through scientific means.  Perhaps the fear is of the fragility of humanity, and of the ease with which it could be altered.  Perhaps it is simply the lack of control humans have over their own lives.  Whatever the cause, the Frankenstein issue is a critical idea in the human psyche.


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