Book review: Welcome to the glass cage

by One magazineTechnology04/08/2015

Book review: Welcome to the glass cage


Our GPS calculates our route, Facebook reminds us of birthdays, and Google answers all other questions. As we farm out more and more decision-making to our computer, we are faced with a growing number of side effects, states Nicolas Carr in his book ‘The Glass Cage’.

Computers are everywhere: architects use them to design buildings, solicitors to analyse evidence, and musicians to simulate musical instruments. Plus, computers and automation still have a magic fl air to them. Our grand-parents will probably never comprehend how a smartphone manages to recognise songs that are played at the local pub. Unsurprisingly, the impact of IT is strongest in our (professional) lives. Just think of Google’s and other brands’ driverless cars, or the drones Amazon is using to deliver orders. Nicolas Carr believes that we are headed in the wrong direction—computers make us lazy and give us a false sense of security. We need to reduce our dependence on computers.

Are computers smarter than humans?

Carr is not the only person to believe this: in sectors like share trading and care, excessive automation is starting to face resistance. Just think of those who were completely lost after relying too heavily on their GPS. Or of architects and doctors whose blind faith in IT has estranged them from their clients or patients. “What would happen if doctors trusted medical software more than their own common sense?”

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