Volume 2, Issue 8, page 7

Ini His Push-Buttom Future By /AMES F P/A.KHAM
Man Needs Fear
nly Self
HERE ARE limits to the benefits to be gained from incursive or inward observation of one's self; sooner
or later the searching mind
must turn outward toward the
society and environment in
which he exists, taking into
account the outward factors which affect
him through new viewpoints gained inwardly within himself.

The development of the "Industrial
Revolution" within our society is a well
known subject to most fairly well informed persons. That the "Industrial
Revolution" has been supplanted and replaced as it were by a new trend and social order is not by any means as well
known and recognized at this writing.
This new trend, which has come to be
known under a recently coined label,
"Automation", will affect the lives and
future of all those living today and generations yet to come. The trend is radical and the changes that will occur will
seem extreme to some observers. Its
effects will be felt economically, educationally, and, most important to the
searching mind, socially. The demands of
employment and subsistence of today soon
will seem outmoded.

The arrival of the "robot revolution", Automation, has not been sudden,
and it has been surprisingly predictable
in the last 50 years. It is a function
of the evolution of Mankind from a lower
order of being that Man has developed
ways in which to cause machines or devices to work for him. The animal kingdom
has at its command the abilities of the
physical organism with which to control
its environment. The mechanisms which
have developed in ever. increasing number
since the "screw" and "wheel", led naturally to the modern trend in which machines require less and less human supervision and direction, and to the ultimate
of fully automatic "robot" devices which
determine "their" actions for "themselves".

Devices such as radar, loran (an
automatic navigational system), and the
electronics of the last decade, to name
only a few of the more well known forms
of automation, and Cybernetics (a science
used to design electronic computers and
servomechanisms evolved by Norbert Weiner), are real indications of the arrival
of this "robot revolution". To be sure,
every advance of this type has its beneficial effect upon our economy and society. It permits greater accuracy in manufacture, efficiency of production heretofore impossible, protective facilities
for the average man, and promises shorter
working hours, and less effort expended
to provide a better economy and standard
of living.

What of these promises? What are
the risks and even dangers in this trend,
if any? Some factions in the society
maintain unemployment will result from
increasing replacement of manpower with
self-supervising machines of production
and even design. Some feel that only the
Cyberneticist or design engineer of such
devices is safe from the inroads of machine-replacing-manpower in our culture.
From the standpoint of obsolescence, not
even the engineer is "safe". However, we
can hardly observe this changing culture
from an unchanging viewpoint. For each of
us, our viewpoints through which we observe and evaluate the culture must, per
force, be as flexible as the culture itself. The ultimate risk or danger, as it
were, in the trend toward Automation lies
in the idea that the machine, developed
to the extreme, may become the master of
the destiny of mankind.

Down through the ages of evolution
man has conceived and built devices to
serve his needs. Even the house is a
machine in that it serves man to protect
him from unpleasant or undesirable conditions in the environment. Few of us
would conceive of our house becoming master of our destiny -- but, what of an automatic dwelling which performed countless
functions for us automatically? Such a
device could only attain mastery if those
living within it and using it came to depend only upon its program of automatic
functions and did no thinking or action
for themselves. This simple analogy applies in general to all facets of the
"robot revolution".

Much of the fear incident to machines-replacing-manpower stems from the
feelings of people that they cannot adapt
to a different form of conduct, or a new
type of occupation. Most of us would
rather devote some of our time to other
pursuits than those from which we gain
The ABERREE, December, 1955 7