Men and Machines

Men and machine

Machines are essentially devices and contraptions which use human or other energy to give a result which is required. The energy is used in such an economical fashion that there is little wastage of effort. Machines can be simple devices like a lever which uses little energy and has tremendous results. A Greek philosopher declared that given a proper lever, he could raise the earth single-handed. Machines can also be intricate devices like computers which baffle all but the specialists. And computers do complicated exercises much faster than men. The 20th century has seen an unprecedented development of machinery. The futurologist Alvin Toffler, in his book Future Shock, states that the development in the last fifty years has been more than equaled the development in the previous five thousand years.

Machines have, to a large extent, displaced human labour. Their influence can be virtually seen in all spheres of life. Agriculture, especially is Western countries is highly mechanized. There are machines to plough the land, sow seeds, and look after their growth by hoeing and weeding. Fertilizers and pesticides are often sprayed by aeroplanes and helicopters. Machines reap, thresh and pack crops. Transportation is often done by conveyor belts or tractors. Storage of grain in cold storage and giant silos prevents wastage and helps build a stock for the lean years.

The growth of human knowledge and information has been greatly facilitated by the development of machines. The printing press has become so highly mechanized that vast number of books, magazines and newspapers are produced, at great speed. This has made them cheaper and consequently has made the general population more literate. The laborious efforts taken to write a book have been greatly reduced by typewriters. Electric typewriters reproduce written material automatically. Computers not only store an astonishing variety of knowledge but also retrieve it efficiently. They also cut short the time taken to calculate and remove mistakes totally.

Furthermore, the relationship between machines and man is rapidly changing. Man, the inventor and the master of machines, is rapidly becoming the slave of his creation. The dependence upon machines to do simple human tasks is increasing to an alarming degree. Many people now find it difficult to keep accounts of their expenses without using calculators or mobile apps. Man is almost at the mercy of machines. Any malfunction has a disastrous effect on man. An awareness of this can go long way in thwarting this dehumanization.

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