“The Machine Stops” by E.M. Forster conveys a powerful message to the avid users of technology: beware. In the short story, people begin to live in their own little bubbles, literally unmoving, relying on technology for every need to the point of worship. Technology becomes omnipresent in people’s lives in this futuristic society–like how God was ominpresent in the lives of people before.
One of the intriguing points this piece makes is how our reliance on technology makes us extremely lazy. Since the beginning of time, it has been civilization’s goal to innovate and create new ways to make life simpler. All technology is created for the purpose of ease. However, Forster warns us that there is such a thing as too much ease. For example, in the story, people begin to deny the validity of “first-hand ideas” and begin to encourage “second-hand” or “tenth-hand” ideas. Ideas that have been ideas for centuries are better than new ideas that challenge the old ideas–the same way how challenging the Machine is considered blasphemy.
While I do appreciate E.M. Forster’s point and the overall entertainment factor in her writing, I don’t think that this laziness or this complete faith in the Machine will happen in actuality. What drives technology further and further is precisely the human quest for knowledge, to be inquisitive and to challenge. The human capacity to think: “well, this is fairly decent now. But how can I make it better?” If what is continually bring new technology to the forefront is the human desire to challenge and to improve, how can we possibly regress into such a state of helplessness and blind faith? There will always be people like Kuno who will challenge and make improvements on the system. We won’t be totally lazy – we will make improvements. While our reliance on technology is ever-increasing, we won’t be become lazy because of it. True, our bodies might become blobs of flesh, but our minds will always be at work.