Man vs. Machine
The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them.
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Man is behind the machine. Machine was invented to easy the work done by man. The innate desire for convenience and more comfort have driven man towards continuous invention. It all started with simple tools like hammer leading to complex engines like aircraft. The book “a history of the machine” by Sigvard Strandh attempts to chronicle the man behind the machines over decades. Yes, it was during the Industrial Revolution in England triggered the man-machine tussle. And almost during the periods of conflicts and post war that new machines have emerged and existing machines have undergone radical transformation to fight the might of opponent.
A lever to reduce the manual load on the hand to lift a log, a pedal around the wheels to convert the pushing of the legs into mechanical energy…manually operated lever moved to mechanical lever and Persian wheel mechanism moved into Crane driven mechanical setup to lift water. A Sewing machine was designed to minimize the pain of going through the tedious hand stitching; a Typewriter was developed to ease the pressure on fingers to put the words on paper…slowly but certainly mechanical machines moved onto the high gear of engineering with the invention of automobiles on the road to ships on the sea to planes on the sky.
Machines are just not about easing the work or reducing the time, these have been the social connector and creator of social revolutions. In fact followed by the Industrial Revolution there was rapid urbanization leading massive Social Revolution. It has always paved the platform to connect people between places, between cities and between countries and between continents. The history of mankind has seen radical social transformation with the advent of automobiles initially and aircrafts later. It subsequently led to cultural exchange and exchange of religious faith between people from different regions and remote parts of the world. Every now and then machines have made man to think differently and design newer forms to make living better for mankind.
Mind is the machine. But the machine behind the machine also has some limitation; this limitation in mind is addressed by the machine itself; though seems an irony, but interestingly intriguing in nature. The focus shifted from the usage of physical power of ‘hand and leg’ to mental content of ‘mind and thinking’…simple calculation is on our finger tips, but when it comes to complex calculation ‘mind the machine’ is stuck. This adversity powered the innovation of Calculator as a machine to supplement ‘mind-machine’ to handle complex mathematical calculations. In this innovation there is a divergence of thought, excessive dependence on Calculator as a machine by children has truncated their mental math ability…Not withstanding the fact that every machine man makes does have a side or negative effect on excessive usage. Air pollution has become a by-product of the rampant usage of automobiles, industrial productions of machines have become a cause of water pollution…the very nature which nurtures man are getting recklessly destroyed by the machine designed to provide comfort to mankind…a paradox on man-machine manifestation.
Calculator was just the tip of the iceberg, the avalanche was imminent and it came with the invention of Computer…it embarked on mind the mind-blogging revolution in the form of Internet Revolution. This machine has challenged the man, and there has been a test of mind, and the ‘game of chess’ has been contested to prove the supremacy of man over machine. It was 1997 when Garry Kasparov was at his peak of powers. The Russian legend had beaten the IBM super computer in a similar format a year before and the rematch created a huge buzz. But Kasparov, after losing alleged that the machine changed behavior along the course of the match. The IBM has since retired their computer from serious play but the debate about the cerebral superiority between the ‘man and machine’ continues… Though there is a belief that a super computer can calculate better than a super Grand Master. However, tactically, the man is still superior.
Though with each innovation in machine, there is a significant enhancement in the living standard of mankind in society… typically taking the case of simple typewriter leading to a word processor has immensely simplified the task of writing, editing and documenting. Not to escape this magic of innovation is none other than the power of phone, from a mere static landline anchored to one corner of the room to mobile handset moving across the house to mobile devices moving across the global.
Can machine contest the supremacy of man? With each advancement in machines, from supercomputers to artificial intelligence in robotics the question has gathered increasing momentum whether machine can ever outperform man or will only excite the science fiction writers, pushing the debate from the walks of life into the realm of literary fictions… the debate very much remains, and tantalizing so, on the brink of excitement and further exploration.
The power of machine has transcended the imagination of man…today man is literally managed by machine. Every walk of man’s life is governed by machine…car to computer to mobile to television we are bonded with the magic of machines. The intrusion of machine into man’s life is not without controversies and it has raised legal, ethical and moral questions confronting the usage of machine by man…man’s privacy is getting pervaded.
The question remains should or can there be a boundary drawn between the use and overuse of machine by man.