The New Industrial Revolution 2.0

“The new industrial revolution which is taking place now consists primarily in replacing human judgment and discrimination at low levels by the discrimination of the machine.The machine appears now, not as a source or power, but as a source of control and a course of communication. We communication with the machine and the machine communicates with us. Machines communicate with one another.”

I just finished grading a set of essays from my 1304 students, and many wrote a response to different essays about technology, including Carr’s “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Most of them responded that the greater efficiency that the Internet provides us more than makes up for any negative intellectual influence that our Google habit causes (these students’ grades provide evidence to the contrary, however). I agree with them that efficiency is a great benefit of the Internet, and after reading Wiener’s above idea about “The New Industrial Revolution,” I tend to believe that he was correct in this prophecy about how our habits would change. Much more than a communication device, the Internet is also a decision maker.

This decision making power of the Internet is an advertising selling point for the Bing seach engine:

Bing Commercial–Decision Engine

Bing commercials highlight both the overwhelming abundance of information on the Internet and the ability that this search engine has to help the user make a good decision quickly. However, instead of the user making the decision, the search engine actually makes the decision based on what information it decides to give the user, so what seems empowering is actually further evidence of our reliance on the Internet.

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