Thoughts on: “The Glass Cage” by Nicholas Carr

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The book is about how bad automation erode skill and create unfulfilling jobs which in turn create a self-fulfilling prophecy where previously masterful people makes mistakes pitching in for failing automated systems – human errors that turn into arguments for even more automation.


It’s easy to discard this books as technophobic but there is a point to all of this. It’s a nuanced and important one. That we should not just discard the effects of automation as they have a big impact on the human psyche and sense of fulfillment. With smart decisions we can limit potential harm and still move technology forward by focusing on human centered designs rather than putting tech first.


At the same time I don’t see the big deal here? We are clinging on to how things ones were and can’t accept change. Everything changes all the time. But getting rid of this type of attachment is a bigger conversation and beyond the scope of this book. 😀


📝 “The problem with automation is that it often gives us what we don’t need at the cost of what we do”. Often cognitive bias -a flaw in our thinking – distorts our perception. We tend to think we don’t want to work but in fact work is often fulfilling while leisurely makes bored and anxious.


📝 “Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.”

Alfred North Whitehead – ‘An Introduction to Mathematics’


📝 As the search engine get better at helping us find what we want the sloppier the questions become. “sharp tools, dull minds”


📝 A worker today is considered “skilled” if he/she goes through a week long training. Several months to a year of training – like learning basic programming- is looked apon with awe. Division of labor eroded what it means to be a skilled laborer. Back in the day 4-7 years of apprenticeship was needed to be skilled in a typical craft.



“Automation weakens the bond between tool and user not because computer controlled systems are complex but because the ask so little of us.”


How are you preparing for for a age where machines can do everything you do – but better and faster? 🤔


4/5 – “The Glass Cage” by Nicholas Carr

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