University of California SB Understanding and Importance in Society Comment

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1.In the article by Lewis Mumford it informs us about time relating to human life. Starting with this statement, “The clock, moreover, is a piece of power- machinery whose “product” is seconds and minutes: by its essential nature it dissociates time from human events and helped create the belief in an independent world of mathematical measurable sequence: the special world of science.” (Mumford pg.15) This statement suggest that time is looked at as an object. Objects are usually only as good as what the person makes of it. During the era when time was released it was separated from human’s everyday life and seen as a piece of machine that nobody needed because people were accustomed to going through their day by relying on their internal regularities. “In terms of human organism itself, mechanical time is even more foreign: while human life has regularities of its own, the beat of the pulse, the breathing of the lungs, these change from hour to hour with mood and action, and in the longer span of days, time is measured not by calendar but by the events that occupy it.” (Mumford pg.15) Time can be an inhibitor for the world by giving humans the possibility to slow down their day. Slowing down ones day can give people a chance to relax and reflect throughout the day and be better. Time might have been foreign when it first was thought of but now time is what we live by and how we coordinate our day. So coordinating the day with time makes it a gain in value because the advantages are greater. Coordinating your day on a timely matter can help with each days events that are planned, instead of relying on internal regularities that can change depending on different situations that a person is experiencing. “The gain in mechanical efficiency through co-ordination and through the closer articulation of the day’s events can not be over-estimated: while this increase cannot be measured in mere horsepower, one has only to imagine its absence today to foresee the speedy disruption and eventually collapse of our entire society.” (Mumford pg.17) Although time has became an increase in societies way of living by increasing its productivity. It has also became a dependent in human life that if taken away would cause much confusion to a daily life. Time has became the number one event that everyone relies on to get through the day and finish choirs and work of the day.

2.Before the invention of the clock (i.e. a system allowing populations to synchronize their schedules), human actions were carried out in a less autonomous fashion, pacing their tasks on daily milestones instead of a minute-by-minute basis. According to Lewis Mumford, “…the machine emphasizes specialization of function, whereas the tool indicates flexibility”, suggesting that it is the automated process that determines when an entity is enframing the behaviors of a machine (Mumford, L., 2010). As the motions of a process repeat, they become more accurate and in turn more automatic as focus becomes reflex, and the flexibility lessens as the process is refined. The motions begin to harmonize with the rhythm of the machine, shortening in temporal increments as they become more precise (Mumford, L., 2010).

In one respect, this evolution is productive in that the job can be done at an ever-increasing efficiency; actions that used to take a lot of energy through focused coordination can now be done without much thought, and production of the overall product is increased. With the introduction of technologies, these processes are made even easier as automated systems are used to synchronize the actions of the human users through the specialized artifact. In the words of Mumford, “The gain in mechanical efficiency through co-ordination … cannot he over-estimated”, citing this exponential gain in production (Mumford, L., 2010).

However, it is this same concept that carries a darker connotation which is more frequently seen as our dependence on technology deepens. The human element is steadily diminishing from these processes, and as workers begin to act in accordance with the machine the line between man and machine begins to blur. As stated by Benjamin Franklin “Time is money”, which perfectly sums up the form of abuse that this system can impose on the ‘human machine’, (Mumford, L., 2010). As mankind adopts this automation they begin to be seen as a mere resource, working in unison with the devices that we create to expediate the tasks; in a way, they become the technology that they use. Their humanity takes a backseat as their usefulness can now be measured in this time-based system of efficiency, placing value on their output over their other qualities. And as is the nature of efficiency, the expectations of this automation can only increase as the process refines; “The increasing tempo of civilization led to a demand for greater power: and in turn power quickened the tempo.”, (Mumford, L., 2010).

Overall, this evolution promises a loss of humanity and the values therein as we increasingly become the very nature of the machine itself. We are now expected to act as the machine does and in some cases are treated as such, reaching a point where our lives revolve around our work hours; we begin the final assimilation. This will become even more integral as capitalist systems teach us to value money over quality of life, and the corporations with money teach us that we are there to serve them. What we value in society has changed over the course of human history, and our humanity is no longer the primary concern.

Work Cited

Mumford, L., (2010). Technics and civilization. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

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