Author(s): Nicholas Carr
In The Glass Cage, leading commentator on technology and culture Nicholas Carr exposes our profound dependence on digital automation to make our most important decisions and the radical effects this is having on our minds and lives. In May 2009 an Airbus A330 passenger jet equipped with the latest 'glass cockpit' controls plummeted 30,000 feet into the Atlantic. The reason for the crash: the autopilot had routinely switched itself off. Faced with having to fly the plane themselves, the pilots 'suffered a total loss of cognitive control' and plunged all 228 passengers and crew to their deaths. Automation is everywhere - from the thermostat in our homes and the GPS in our phones to the algorithms of High Frequency Trading and self-driving cars. We now use it to diagnose patients, educate children, evaluate criminal evidence and fight wars. But psychological studies show that we perform best when fully involved in a task, while the principle of automation - that humans are inefficient - is self-fulfilling. As we become increasingly dependent on software to make decisions for us, the glass cockpit becomes a glass cage. In this utterly engrossing expose, bestselling writer Nicholas Carr uses remarkable case studies - from the navigation techniques of Inuit hunters to the errant trading of $7 billion on Wall Street by an algorithm gone rogue - to reveal how automation is changing us: our ability not just to read maps and drive cars but to solve problems, forge memories and acquire skills. Rather than rejecting technology, Carr argues that we must urgently rethink its role in our lives, using it to enhance rather than diminish the extraordinary abilities that make us human.
"Nicholas Carr is among the most lucid, thoughtful and necessary thinkers alive. The Glass Cage should be required reading for everyone with a phone" -- Jonathan Safran Foer "Written with restrained objectivity, The Glass Cage is nevertheless as scary as any sci-fi thriller could be" -- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience "Nicholas Carr is the rare thinker who understands that technological progress is both essential and worrying. The Glass Cage is a call for technology that complements our human capabilities, rather than replacing them" -- Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody "A very necessary book, that we ignore at our peril. I read it without putting it down" -- Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master and His Emissary
Nicholas Carr is the author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, a 2011 Pulitzer Prize nominee and a New York Times bestseller, as well as two other influential books, The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google (2008) and Does IT Matter? (2004). His books have been translated into more than 20 languages. (www.nicholascarr.com)