# Highly Recommended《Bran-New + Shifting Attention To Computer Screen Can Leave Us Disengaged & Discontented》Nicholas Carr - THE GLASS CAGE : Automation and Us
This New York Times bestseller in paperback edition is a bran-new book and nicely wrapped with protective book-wrapper. The original new book is sold at usual price RM76.38. Now here Only at RM27. At once a celebration of technology and a warning about its misuse, The Glass Cage will change the way you think about the tools you use every day. In The Glass Cage, best-selling author Nicholas Carr digs behind the headlines about factory robots and self-driving cars, wearable computers and digitized medicine, as he explores the hidden costs of granting software dominion over our work and our leisure. Even as they bring ease to our lives, these programs are stealing something essential from us. Drawing on psychological and neurological studies that underscore how tightly people’s happiness and satisfaction are tied to performing hard work in the real world, Carr reveals something we already suspect: shifting our attention to computer screens can leave us disengaged and discontented. From nineteenth-century textile mills to the cockpits of modern jets, from the frozen hunting grounds of Inuit tribes to the sterile landscapes of GPS maps, The Glass Cage explores the impact of automation from a deeply human perspective, examining the personal as well as the economic consequences of our growing dependence on computers. With a characteristic blend of history and philosophy, poetry and science, Carr takes us on a journey from the work and early theory of Adam Smith and Alfred North Whitehead to the latest research into human attention, memory, and happiness, culminating in a moving meditation on how we can use technology to expand the human experience. Who knew such an insightful book could be packed with so many disturbing ideas about our relation to computers, robotics and media. With so many tasked offloaded to computing machines and increasingly robots we gain convenience and powers at the same time we lose old skills that helped us autonomously navigate the world. We are offloading memory and calculation, and skills at mundane tasks that our parents and grandparents would have to grind through. We are living more convenient lives increasingly of our own choosing but we are losing our autonomy as the gadgets do more and more for us. These trends have some unstable effects on the workplace as many jobs become automated or deskilled and the premium that had to be paid to skilled workers begins to wane and one can detect a hollowing out of the middle class as the newly deskilled find low skilled jobs that robots cannot do yet. Robotics makes the future more problematic as well. As robots used to operate vehicles, and ordinary machinery comes on line it will have to have programmed into its software ethical algorithms to solve problems. A driverless car for example has to decide whether or not to crash into a telephone poll to save the life of a pedestrian. Ethical problems that humans haven't been able to agree upon for thousands of years will now have be encoded into the software of our robots. This is not even mentioning battlefield robots which will be important for quick reaction times on the battlefield will also have to have some kind of ethical software to make decisions about killing potential enemies. As you can see a lot of troubling ideas to digest in such a short book. Definitely worth a look. ------------------------------------------------- The New York Times Review : In his previous book, “The Shallows” — essential reading about our Internet Age — Nicholas Carr, former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review and author of several books about technology, discussed the detrimental effects the Web has on our reading, thinking and capacity for reflection. In this new book, “The Glass Cage: Automation and Us,” similarly essential if slightly repetitive, Carr explains how certain aspects of automative technology can separate us from, well, Reality. How, for all its miraculous-seeming benefits, automation also can and often does impair our mental and physical skills, cause dreadful mistakes and accidents, particularly in medicine and aviation, and threaten to turn the algorithms we create as servants into our mindless masters — what sci-fi movies have been warning us about for at least two or three decades now. (As Carr puts it near the end of “The Glass Cage,” when “we become dependent on our technological slaves . . . we turn into slaves ourselves.”) Exhibit A: Electronic medical records. In 2005, the RAND Corporation predicted that electronic medical records “could save more than $81 billion annually and improve the quality of care.” But as it turns out, Carr shows us, along with the usefulness of these records has arrived a plague of problems — above all, the interposition of the computer screen between doctors and their patients. Studies have proved that checking records, possible diagnoses and drug interactions on a computer during a medical examination can interfere with what should be not only a fact-based investigation but a deeply human, partly intuitive and empathetic process. One tiny but telling detail: Handwritten records allow physicians to pick out and attend to the comments of individual colleagues. How? Penmanship. In computerized records, one font fits all. Exhibit B: The workplace. “To boost productivity, reduce labor costs and avoid human error . . . you simply allocate control over as many activities as possible to software. . . . People are pushed further and further out of . . . ‘the loop.’ ” Exhibit C: The thoroughly fatal crash of a 2009 Continental Connection/Colgan Air flight from Newark to Buffalo, a result of what Colgan itself called the pilots’ lack of “situational awareness.” After the autopilot automatically disconnected during the landing approach — as it was programmed to do — owing to a stall warning, the captain tried to climb. He should have descended, in order to gain speed and subsequent lift. Carr plausibly makes the case that in general, pilots’ increasing reliance on automated flying reduces their own ability to actually fly a plane in any direct way. Flying, over all, is safer than ever, Carr admits, but pilots’ growing dependence on automated systems — their increasing separation from and lack of experience with hands-on flight controls — poses a new and modern kind of danger. “A heavy reliance on computer automation can erode pilots’ expertise . . . leading to what Jan Noyes, a human-factors expert at Britain’s University of Bristol, calls ‘a deskilling of the crew.’ ” (Contrast that with Chesley Sullenberger’s highly skilled, manual safe ditching of his US Airways Airbus A320 a few weeks earlier in the Hudson River after a flock of geese disabled its engines.) And so on. With every new example of the deskilling, dehumanizing and sometimes life-threatening perils of automation, Carr takes care to acknowledge its benefits. This is not a jeremiad. But it does make a case. In the very early pages of “The Glass Cage,” Carr himself falls victim to a kind of literary automaticity, using such colloquially prefab wordings as “no big deal,” “thorny questions,” “sure bet,” “how we pull off such a feat,” “snagging a fly ball.” (Anyway, I think you shag fly balls — during practice, at least. Snagging is mainly for line drives.) And there’s elegant variation here and there: “lauded” for “praised,” “spurred” for “caused,” etc. Other problems: the repetition of some central ideas, such as the aforementioned, almost ritualized bows to the blessings of automation and the way automation frequently begins to dictate human actions and thought processes rather than the other way around. But that apparatus also demonstrates the wide research that underlies Carr’s facts, fears and philosophy. And the book picks up speed and eloquence as it goes along. You begin to find more strong, short sentences — sentences that make you stop and think (which is basically all Carr is asking us to do). “We’ve designed a system that discards us.” Digital technologies are “designed to be disinviting. They pull us away from the world.” “The real sentimental fallacy is the assumption that the new thing is always better . . . than the old thing. That’s the view of a child, naïve and pliable.” “The mind’s eye can’t see straight.” “To really understand anything, including yourself . . . requires as much mistrust as trust.” This last quotation comes from the book’s final — and most impressive — chapter, “The Love That Lays the Swale in Rows,” in which Carr presents his convictions about the ideal relationship between our tools and ourselves. He does so mainly by means of a pretty brilliant — and, in this context, pretty unexpected — exegesis of Robert Frost’s sonnet “Mowing.” It wouldn’t do the chapter justice to digest it here. Read it yourself. Read the whole book, if you want to understand the dangers that many forms of automative intermediation pose to what Carr (and I, and I bet you) think is the best way of living in the world. But here’s a sample: “Labor, whether of the body or the mind, is more than a way of getting things done. It’s a form of contemplation, a way of seeing the world face-to-face rather than through a glass. . . . It binds us to the earth . . . as love binds us to one another. The antithesis of transcendence, work puts us in our place.” About the Author Nicholas Carr is the author of The Shallows, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and The Glass Cage, among other books. Former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review, he has written for The Atlantic, the New York Times, and Wired. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.
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