I am constantly being asked to peer into the future in this direction or that, and frequently I am asked to consider the future of computers.
I am glad to do this and am quite capable of talking very rapidly on the subject, but sooner or later (usually sooner) I am interrupted in my course of glowing optimism and am asked, "But do you think that human beings may be replaced by the computer? That human beings may become obsolete?"
Do I? Let's consider the matter in orderly progression.
fear and distrust of change, particularly technological change?
One can imagine the anger, for instance, of early builders when the equivalent of the yardstick came into use.
One can almost hear them mutter, "Of what value then is the keen eye and the cool judgment of the experienced carpenter if any fool can tell whether a piece of timber will stretch across a doorway by measuring it with that inanimate marked stick? Brains will decay and the human being will become extinct, replaced by wood."
And surely the bards of old must have been horrified at the invention of writing, of a code of markings that eliminated the need for memory. A child of ten, having learned to read, could then recite the Iliad, though he had never seen it before, simply by following the markings.How the mind would degenerate!
A Spartan monarch, on seeing a demonstration of a catapult hurling its heavy rock, cried out, "Oh, Heracles, the valor of man is at an end."
He equated martial valor with hand-to-hand thumping, you see; but if so, he was too late by some thousands of years, for such a cry must have rung out with the invention of the bow and arrow.