HistoryofScience.com Blog

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Addition to the G2I Timeline: Forster's The Machine Stops

In November 1909 E. M. Forster published a short story entitled The Machine Stops. Describing a world in which people live beneath the surface of the earth, with technology running virtually all aspects of their lives, the story anticipates instant messaging and videoconferencing with a machine called "the speaking apparatus." It also anticipates television with a machine called the "cinematophote." The only book that the main character uses is an enormous technical manual about "the Machine." Fearing that man might be unable to live without the technology that he created, or eventually might not even remember that the technology was man-made, Forster wrote the story to dramatize the value of actual or direct experience versus "virtual" experience.

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