When the machine stops

Internet access in the student halls of residence was down over the weekend. As an official Internet addict, I was feeling disoriented and unsettled, evidently. You might be thinking that my thesis must have finally received my undivided attention that it deserves, but the thing is that nowadays even my writing doesn’t seem to advance much if I cannot do occasional Web searches along the way. I kind of laughed off when I came across an article in Telegraph about the Queen’s visit to the Google headquarters scheduled for next month, but perhaps it was more illustrative of the technological influence we are under than I first noticed.

Anyway, since I had no other choices, I went through the old stack of papers – the academic articles and reports that I have collected and labelled as ‘to-read’. Funnily enough, the first one I ended up reading in bed was E. M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” (1909). If you have read it, I’m sure you’ve got the irony already. If you haven’t, you will see the irony as soon as you start reading the first paragraph. The story was just so very fitting for me to read under the Internet-deprived circumstance. It’s not the only story that describes the future with human-beings’ growing technological dependency, which eventually leads them to commit themselves – whether knowingly or not – to the point of being controlled by “the Machine”. Still, it’s quite impressive given the fact that this particular piece was written a century ago.

I wouldn’t paint such a dark picture of the future. And despite the growing cynic in me, I would certainly never compare the Internet with “the Machine” or any other mean mechanical villains in sci-fi. However, the thought that occurred to me on this occasion was that I might be looking for some sort of assurance, if not anything else, when I’m taking in information delivered by Web search engines. This could potentially be a dangerous thing.

Why am I suddenly getting all philosophical about technology? Well, I’m not. This whole yada-yada is in fact a *prelude* to the song below: The Humans Are Dead (by Flight of the Conchords).

How could you not adore them? 😀

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