Passengers Blog Post #4

In the chapter “Passengers” of The Glass Cage, Nicholas Carr, the author, explores automation and how it affects humans. He offers an anecdote about driving in his adolescence. In short, he misses a manual transmission when he upgrades to an automatic transition. He feels more like a passenger in his car than a driver. Fast forward approximately thirty years and Google and other tech giants are in the process of perfecting self-driving cars. The onset of these new cars presents a lot of questions. How much can a computer do? And also, what is it to be human? Computers can only operate on explicit knowledge. This knowledge is teachable and very exact. Almost like a formula for the computer to follow. However, computers do not have what humans have and that is tacit knowledge. This is the knowledge that cannot be expressed by formulas or equations. Carr then explains we tend to favor automation although it isn’t what we need. For example, people say they hate going to work but in actuality, they favor work over leisure time. This paradox is parallel to that of automation. In the end automation is not bad, however, humans have a hard time discerning what tasks to leave to computers and what tasks to leave to humans.

I personally think both the owner and the manufacturer should be held responsible. However, from a legal standpoint, I think only the manufacturer should be held liable. The manufacturer installed a faulty driving system. If there is a crash it probably has something to do with the driving system. This, of course, is in a hypothetical situation when the self-driving cars are actually fully functional and do not have too many glitches. They’re road safe. And personally I think self-driving cars are kind of stupid so if someone owns one and gets in a crash it should be their fault, but that’s just a personal opinion.

Carr portrays a casual tone by using words and phrases such as “stuff”, “do this, then this, then this”, and “quick enough”.  I’m more of indifferent to Carr’s tone mostly because it’s a boring tone. Nothing exciting happens in the text and the way he presents the information isn’t exciting either. Maybe a little interesting, but none the less boring. Carr probably chose a casual tone because of his audience. Readers of The Glass Cage are probably not super-duper smart when it comes to automation or the human mind. So in order for his audience to be able to understand Carr’s point he uses a casual tone. His tone compared to “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” is quite the same. Both are casual and not overly pedantic. However, the Google article is a little more descriptive I also notice that both the chapter and the article started off with a personal anecdote.

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