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Labour and Machines

Labour and Machines

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  8 Oct 2019 10:27 AM GMT

Arunav Barua

It has been a recent trend that has been observed by many and heralded by few. This trend serves as the realisation of some goals that many held dear to them and on the other hand, served as a warning signal for the others. Now, it is not important to which camp you belong because most of us are in the in-between camp, the camp which neither gives abject approval, nor denies the importance of this phenomenon, if it may be called so. By now, you must be wondering what this ‘fad’ is that we are talking about. Let me put things in place to give you a fair idea of what we are talking about here.

The ‘Man-Machine’ dichotomy along with the ‘Man-Machine’ interdependence, which has to be called that because notwithstanding the fact that we are dependent on machines, it is us who creates and keeps the machines ‘alive’, if I may have the permission to say so. We do so in numerous ways, and with impunity, to an extent that we gloat over the fact that we use them: machines.

I remember times when man would and could do numbers of great complexity in mind and through thought. Now, it is being replaced on all platforms by the ‘android culture’. While this is good news for many who believe that new frontiers are being explored and new dimensions will be paved through this man-machine dichotomy, some are sarcastically, prudently, careful. Young blood would choose camp one any day for most youngsters are adventurous and romantically so. They would take a risk on things that they believe would help restore what seems as a sad reality of existence on this planet.

The very nature of this article lies in showing the pit-falls along with the gains. Pit-falls we all understand; they are something that traps us without forewarning. Gains, on the other hand need to be explored: for one man’s gain may be another’s loss. Most of us understand ‘real’ gains which have some semblance of realisation in the physical realm. They are, among others, money, position, acknowledgement, etc. The question here is, whether we have an understanding of the fact that mere rewards in the above mentioned ways leaves nothing to our progeny. Are we willing to take a risk to pledge our children on the cart of ‘progress’, or should we say, ‘blind progress’?

Now, the crux of this discussion is that we are facing some issues that have been realised in almost all quarters of the educated world. Machines are actually replacing human labour to an extent that man is becoming redundant by his own efforts. We do need machines, and progress in the ‘real gain’ scenario does seem worth taking the risks, but unfortunately there have to been some boundaries which might bring the sceptical lot to anger at the very word. The odd equation is that it is the city bred who, through his own work, is making himself obsolete. The villagers have their agriculture and it is only the town-bred who seem caught unwary. As a former management student and an observer of nature, there is always a fall after the initial euphoria and jubilation of all new things that have been contrived in this planet. Do we reach a stage where we realise, all too late, that this is not what we had envisioned for our children? Do we say, wish we could have done better?

To give you a real scenario, here is an example: Students walk into school, they flash their sign ins and get access, they enter a dorm lit with multiple point lights, a laser interface measures their weights and heights and records it into the daily database, they sit and audibly chorus ‘present’. Their auditory responses are recorded and they are marked for presence. Their teacher, a blank screen and a responsive visual interface starts class. All questions are answered. All queries met with correct, to the point explanations. Soon, class gets over and there is a repetition for every class. This might seem wonderful to children who love things abstract and imagine only the positives. The negatives? There is no mirth, no real laughter, no stories from the teacher, no jokes, no asking for help. I take this chance to say that we have the choice.

I read a certain science fiction writer who showed in one of his works that technology can be manipulated to suit the needs of the ones who are deemed to be in ‘power’. Rather, it can be manipulated. Now, that seems odd but does ring a few bells. For in a democracy like ours, the only real power lies with the people!

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