Does human nature govern technology or does technology govern human nature? In a technological market, products are created with the intensions of surpassing their predecessors by way of not only performance and longevity, but also in terms of how convenient the product is to use. A new product that garners more immediate results than older models of its kind and competing company models, is, in this modern day, a stronger machine more likely to be accepted by humans as the prime technology to use. These updated technologies continually push consumers and consumerism into a faster-paced lifestyle, but it is also this same evolving lifestyle that pushes the creation of these technologies to become what they are. For the time being, this lifestyle seems to have benefits: faster technology is equivalent to saved time, satisfied customers, and the promise of an even faster and better technology in the future. However, will the benefits begin to be casually outweighed by the detriments with time?
Tabula rasa1 is a theory that all humans are born with “empty” minds and that they solely acquire knowledge through both experience and sensory perceptions. To apply this theory to technology, it is safe to say that each new generations’ knowledge is based on the technologies present to them. Since technologies are becoming more convenient for the user, convenience will become a common ground upon which life is based around. More convenience attributes to a higher rates of lethargy and laziness throughout generations, making the future look bleak. Skill sets will be lost due to the heavy reliance on technology. It is possible that a declension of knowledge will begin to take place as slowly technology takes over human nature, and the human race is nothing more than a breed born to do nothing but die. It is a case where Darwin’s theories become grim, not only with nurture2 being the cause of human decay, but also because the surviving fittest are the very products from our hands.
It is Frederick Taylor who developed the theory of Taylorism3, a theory practiced to increase efficiency in the work place. The core steps of Taylorism are as followed:
1. Govern movements by a set algorithm
2. Train workers with this set of movements.
3. Remove unnecessary movements.
4. Enforce a work schedule.
5. Provide incentives for workers.
With these steps, Taylor enforces a rigid working environment, saving both time and energy for any given company. He also enforces the idea of cooperation instead of individualism in order to increase efficiency. Applying this theory to the prior speculations of the future, technology will at one point be more efficient than humans in all aspects of life. When technology is first developed, it is tested with a set of algorithms. When the technology is ready to be produced, an entire batch is made with this set of algorithms. As technology advances and become more efficient, out-of-date and unneeded information and hardware is removed from the technology. Certain technologies can also be programmed to work on a pre-determined work schedule, such as the various machines one can observe on an assembly line. Of course, with technology taking the place of humans in the workforce, no incentives would have to be provided in order for the machines to keep working. In a sense, isn’t this what Taylorism is aimed at, yet made better the unnecessary step of applying incentives?
By applying Taylorism in efforts to make the world a more utopian place to live, we are, as a race, creating a more dystopian future for ourselves. By successfully creating and developing technologies that improve our lives, we are only hurting our own wellbeing and capacity to grow as humans. If technology can perform tasks that we would, in past times, perform with our minds, what is the use of a brain? Hands? Life?
1 Latin, blank slate
3 also referred to as Scientific Management