Is Technology Dehumanizing the Workforce?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Robot humans Is technology dehumanizing the workforce? (Ryger/Shutterstock)

The new millenium brought a new industrialized revolution that is working hard to outshine the Ford assembly line.

Social networking and the growth of the Internet are producing an industrialized workplace with computer systems that track and target your every move. They're called computer business systems, and they function as an interface between employee, customer, and product at large corporations like Amazon and WalMart, as well as small businesses on Main Street. 

Simon Head, associate fellow at the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University, explores the impact of these computer business systems on society in his new book, "Mindless: Why Smarter Machines are Making Dumber Humans." He argues that in a push for efficiency in the workplace, we are losing the human expertise and interactions that fuel new ideas, and that in fact technology is making us dumber. 


Simon Head

Produced by:

Allie Ferguson


T.J. Raphael

Comments [5]

Bill from Caledonia,IL

The computer that surpasses our brains ability is not far off and we are becoming "mindless". I agree technology is using us. Everday tracking our spending habits,stalking us with selective advertising and anticipating what we will buy next and how best technolgy can influence that outdated obsolete system the brain!

Mar. 27 2014 04:02 PM
Robert Thomas from Santa Clara

To Mike from Oregon,

[difficult to directly respond as the annoying non-Disqus comment mechanism at The Takeaway is stupidly clumsy]

Yeah! Ain't it a shame? As a manufacturing engineer, I've spent many years lamenting that every layer of management above the first level in an Operations organization (of any manufacturer) is made up of clerks; the attached engineering staff is an incomprehensible carbuncle on its backside. I've just had to swallow this. I accepted my last position in 2000 on the condition of having a second, FreeBSD (subsequently, Linux) system on my desk, rather than just a Windows box with a UNIX portal.

I worked for eight years at Silicon Graphics, arriving when SGI acquired MIPS. MIPS was a penny-ante outfit by comparison; SGI was much more substantial but SGI was NOT a computer company, it was an Attached Graphics Processor company. There was little understanding there (1992) of what a computer company (which MIPS *was*) even did. They used crummy little Apple desktops as thin clients and crummier little Apple printers. The engineering staff used MIPS hosts or clients which were attached to air-conditioner-sized graphics pipes to do their work; everyone else used toys. Just as I arrived, they had begun a campaign to get the Apples off everyone's desk and replace it with an X11 SGI workstation. What a huge improvement.

Now, of course, I write this on my excellent MacBook, running Mach and... X11! What a world.

Sadly, by the time SGI figured out that it built great many-core single-image servers, it was too late to dump the expensive graphics processing business it had all but created but could no longer control.

Mar. 26 2014 04:25 PM
Tracy from Dallas, TX

I'm a slave to technology because my 13 year old needs to use a computer to do research for school, but, with the parental controls activated to avoid non-school work distractions, I constantly have to "allow" searches or websites so that she can actually do the research.

Those of us that are not overly computer literate end up finding out the hard way that sexually explicit images are very difficult, if not impossible, to block without making it impossible for a child to be autonomous while doing their homework!

Mar. 26 2014 02:00 PM
Mike from Oregon

I used to work for the most successful hi-tech company in my state. The scientists and engineers used the UNIX operating system. They understood it, but the managers did not. So, much to the chagrin of the technical people, management decreed that everyone would switch to the Windows operating system, the system they used for "management".

That company is all but gone now.

Mar. 26 2014 01:11 PM
Larry Fisher from Backin Brooklyn, N.Y.

How do we teach people to be suspicious of messages which are laid on thick in our society with media ads and stories and with technological advancements without seeming to be paranoid?

Teck no ledgy mayke me Thimk fester.

My job as a parent is to make sure my kids don't completely buy into the modern industrialized tech world. If I succeed, my kids will hate me. I am alright with that.

Why wouldn't managers use the technology to control their businesses and make their life easier with a single spreadsheet?

Mar. 26 2014 12:08 PM

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