Machine Stops Essay, Research Paper
The short story ?The Machine Stops? is a powerful statement about where the world is headed, as people begin to rely on computers more and more for everyday life. Humanity lives in a honeycomb of rooms inside a vast subterranean machine that caters to every human need. Humanity is trapped by technology, which they depend on. The short story is a science fiction story about the way computers can change human components, urban infrastructure, and machine components of communities, and communication. There are many different themes explored through Forster?s ideas.
The Machine provides its inhabitants with simulations of objects. It provides artificial fruit and fake marble bathtubs, for people who live a copy of normal life without real experiences. Humanity is portrayed as to helpless to change the way they live.
Forster?s central theme in the short story ?The Machine Stops? is the isolation of the individual brought about by technology. The future presented in the story is geared entirely towards bringing services and goods to its members. The citizens of the future live in a world mechanized to such a degree that they actually live inside of one single worldwide machine. They never leave hexagonal shaped rooms, and if one of them did he/she needs the aid of robot wheelchairs. The citizen?s muscles have degenerated through the total lack of physical exercise. There is no need for them to leave their rooms because the world is at their fingertips:
?There were buttons and switches everywhere ? buttons to call for food, for music, for clothing. ? And there were of course buttons by which she communicated with here friends. The room, though it contained nothing, was in touch with all that she cared for in the world.?
In the short story the citizens rely on the mediation by machines in the underground world. As technology fails Va*censored*i the world literally breakdown for her. ?For a moment Vashti felt lonely. Then she generated the light, and the sight of her room, flooded with radiance and studded with electric buttons, revived her. Vashti?s next move was to turn off the isolation switch, and all the accumulations of the last three minutes burst upon her.?
Forster shows technology determinism by showing new telecommunications technologies are seen directly to cause urban change. Technologies are seen to impact on the physical form and socioeconomic development of urban places. In the short story people live in their individual cells, communicating with each other on something that looks a lot like contemporary video screens. They no longer use technology to go out and seek what they desire, the machine brings what they desire to them. The city economies are based on information; the growth of culture is based on tele-interactions.
?The Machine Stops? shows signs of anti technology utopias. Fosters view consists of dystopian and political economists views. He stresses the ways in which the development and application of telematics technologies are not separate from society. The citizens are reliant on the Machine to live their lives.
The community is depended on the Machine to provide aspects of life, such as human component. The education, culture, social/family bonds, work, and leisure are all conducted by the interaction through machines. No one conducts any physical actions or talks face to face. This brings an isolation of the citizens because they only communicate with each other but do not interact physically.
Urban infrastructure is reliant on the role of telematics. This all depends on the Machine to allow communication between people. The physical structure of each place is the same therefore not differing for any person. An example would be that there was only one size of bed, and everyone had the same size.
The Machine was the most important part of the community without it the community did not exist. This was shown at the end of the story. The Machine ran the citizens lives day to day.
Communication through the Machine was the whole part of the peoples lives. They communicated between each other and that?s all they did. Methods of communication only ranged from the video conferencing that the machine provided. It was found rude if you talked to a person face to face.
The story revolves around the main character compassion for a personal encounter. Kuno in ?The Machine Stops? asks Vashti for such a meeting. This shocks Vashti because members of her society are so much estranged by such a question therefore this being an obscene suggestion. Kuno insisted that she come, but ?She could not be sure, for the Machine did not transmit nuances of expression. It only gave a general idea of people ? an idea that was good enough for all practical purposes ? Something ?good enough? had long since been accepted by our race.? Therefore the mainstream of the society has taken life in cyberspace. Few people actually want to interact with each other. The society is totally dependent on technology, and requires it to survive.
Eventually, malfunctions occur more frequently until one day the Machine breaks down entirely and the human race dies with it. Finally humanity discovers that they have become to dependent and they state, ?Oh, tomorrow?some fool will start the Machine again, tomorrow. ?Never,? said Kuno, ?never. Humanity has learnt its lesson.?? ?The Machine Stops? shows an accurate prediction of an information society. But Forster predicted the future of machine to grow larger in size. Technology today has gone a different way to what Forster anticipated. For instance technology have become miniaturized and some of it dependent of each other. Each person today is exposed to small parts of technology and not to one piece like stated in ?The Machine Stops.?
At the end of the short story the machine simply stops working. The lights go out, and the machine stops producing goods for the people. This then leads to the destruction and death of humanity, which cannot survive without the machine. This story portrays in terms of our world?s increasing dependence on technology. Forster shows his prediction of Email, which is the instantaneous communication with other people. This ultimate communication system is installed in each apartment that allows talking and seeing, if wanted, to any resident from any cell.
The story shows how life becomes very routine and how civilization can become slaves to machines. Usual day of regular citizen is described to be routine, ?She made the room dark and slept; she awoke and made the room light; she ate and exchanged ideas with her friends, and listened to music and attended lectures; she made the room dark and slept.? There is no night or day or any attributes of nature. Though communication exists people are separated from each other. Technology today will take us a different way then expressed in ?The Machine Stops.?
The viewpoint of Foster?s vision does not have merit because society reliance on computers is different. Society today uses communication differently and uses the aspect of face to face conversation. As technology improves communication changes, and society relies on technology to a greater extent. As in the reading ?Electronic Agoras? the writer states that Web today erases social division, which is some people?s view. But some could argue that it could improve our communication globally. You could say that interfaced interaction could become increasingly important and common as stated in ?Soft Cities.? This leap in technology allows us to share information among a greater audience. But the future will change and we will be more reliant on technology more then ever before. The point of the story is that the character questioned the Machine only in her dying moments. If we become so reliant on technology will we question machines only in our dying moments?