Lively and in-depth discussions of city news, politics, science, entertainment, the arts, and more.
Hosted by Larry Mantle
Airs Weekdays 10 am - 12 pm

The curse of automation

Are we relying too much on technology and automation?
Are we relying too much on technology and automation?
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Listen to story

Download this story 0MB

Technology is supposed to be an enabling force, the thing that makes us freer, more organized, less stressed out. But it is also making us forget about how to do a lot of things we used to know how to do by heart. When was the last time you consulted a map, for example?

Or be able to recall a phone number at the drop of a dime? While this so-called "great forgetting," which technology Nicolas Carr wrote about in this month's Atlantic Magazine, doesn't seem to have dire consequences in our personal lives, the same can't be said when it comes to the workplace.

Carr wrote in the piece about the crash of a Continental flight in 2009 that could have been avoided easily if not for the fact that the pilot had relied so much on automation that he had simply forgotten what to do when the plane was suddenly taken off autopilot. Automation is meant to relieve the tedium of certain tasks, allowing us to focus on the more challenging aspects of work.

But are we over-relying on automation, to the point where our performance and expertise suffers for it?


Nicholas Carr, a technology writer who wrote about “The Great Forgetting” in this month’s Atlantic Magazine. He is also the author of several books including “The Shallows: How the Internet Is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember” (Atlantic, 2011) and the forthcoming “The Glass Cage: Automation and Us” (2014)