Will Machines Replace Humans?
For the final part of Cultural Ecology 2017 we will use anthropological work to speculate on nine big questions about the future of life in the Anthropocene. Question #9: Will Machines Replace Humans?
The two readings are
- Tim Ingold, “Tools, minds and machines: An excursion in the philosophy of technology” (294-311) in The Perception of the Environment
- Anna Tsing pp.1-26 in The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins
Recent advances in automation and robotics have reinvigorated the question of “will machines replace humans?” To understand this question requires revisiting Heilbronner’s classic 1967 article “Do machines make history?” as well as investigating interpretations of Karl Marx’s analysis of capitalism. This takes us into the long history of efforts to define tool, machine, and technology. What is a tool? What differentiates a tool from a machine? Since all humans use tools, does that mean all humans have a technology? Unpacking these previous ideas regarding technological determinism will enable us to better answer the question of “will machines replace humans?”