Stagger onward rejoicing

Tag: automation (page 1 of 1)

oh, okay, one more post

On these matters. This from Roald Dahl’s story “The Great Automatic Grammatizator” (1952): 

“That’s exactly it, Mr Bohlen! That’s where the machine comes in. Listen a minute, sir, while I tell you some more. I’ve got it all worked out. The big magazines are carrying approximately three fiction stories in each issue. Now, take the fifteen most important magazines—the ones paying the most money. A few of them are monthlies, but most of them come out every week. All right. That makes, let us say, around forty big stories being bought each week. That’s forty thousand dollars. So with our machine—when we get it working properly—we can collar nearly the whole of this market!” 

“My dear boy, you’re mad!”

“No, sir, honestly, it’s true what I say. Don’t you see that with volume alone we’ll completely overwhelm them! This machine can produce a five-thousand-word story, all typed and ready for dispatch, in thirty seconds. How can the writers compete with that? I ask you, Mr Bohlen, how?”

At that point, Adolph Knipe noticed a slight change in the man’s expression, an extra brightness in the eyes, the nostrils distending, the whole face becoming still, almost rigid. Quickly, he continued. “Nowadays, Mr Bohlen, the hand-made article hasn’t a hope. It can’t possibly compete with mass-production, especially in this country — you know that. Carpets … chairs … shoes … bricks … crockery … anything you like to mention — they’re all made by machinery now. The quality may be inferior, but that doesn’t matter. It’s the cost of production that counts. And stories — well — they’re just another product, like carpets and chairs, and no one cares how you produce them so long as you deliver the goods. We’ll sell them wholesale, Mr Bohlen! We’ll undercut every writer in the country! We’ll corner the market!”

Andrey Mir:

Digital natives are fit for their new environment but not for the old one. Coaches complain that teenagers are unable to hold a hockey stick or do pull-ups. Digital natives’ peripheral vision — required for safety in physical space — is deteriorating. With these deficits come advantages in the digital realm. The eye is adjusting to tunnel vision — a digital native can see on-screen details that a digital immigrant can’t see. When playing video games, digital immigrants still instinctively dodge bullets or blows, but digital natives do not. Their bodies don’t perceive an imaginary digital threat as a real one, which is only logical. Their sensorium has readjusted to ignore fake digital threats that simulate physical ones. No need for an instinctive fear of heights or trauma: in the digital world, even death can be overcome by re-spawning. Yet what will happen when millions of young people with poor grip strength, peripheral blindness, and no instinctive fear of collision start, say, driving cars? Will media evolution be there in time to replace drivers with autopilots in self-driving vehicles?