“Carr’s prose is elegant, and he has an exceptional command of the facts. He serves a varied menu of the ways that technology has failed us, and in every instance he is not only persuasive but undoubtedly right.” —Daniel Levitin, Wall Street Journal
“Nicholas Carr is among the most lucid, thoughtful, and necessary thinkers alive. He’s also terrific company. The Glass Cage should be required reading for everyone with a phone.” —Jonathan Safran Foer
What kind of world are we building for ourselves? That’s the question bestselling author Nicholas Carr tackles in this urgent, absorbing book on the human consequences of automation. At once a celebration of technology and a warning about its misuse, The Glass Cage: Automation and Us will change the way you think about the tools you use every day.
Digging behind the headlines about factory robots and self-driving cars, wearable computers and digitized medicine, Carr explores the hidden costs of granting software dominion over our work and our leisure. Even as they bring ease to our lives, computer programs are stealing something essential from us.
Drawing on psychological and neurological studies that underscore how tightly people’s happiness and satisfaction are tied to performing meaningful work in the real world, Carr reveals something we already suspect: shifting our attention to computer screens can leave us disengaged and discontented.
From nineteenth-century textile mills to the cockpits of modern jets, from the frozen hunting grounds of Inuit tribes to the sterile landscapes of GPS maps, The Glass Cage explores the impact of automation from a deeply human perspective, examining the personal as well as the economic consequences of our growing dependence on computers.
With a characteristic blend of history and philosophy, poetry and science, Carr takes us on a journey from the work and early theory of Adam Smith and Alfred North Whitehead to the latest research into human attention, memory, and happiness, culminating in a moving meditation on how we can use technology to expand the human experience.
More Praise for The Glass Cage:
“Nick Carr is our most informed, intelligent critic of technology. Since we are going to automate everything, Carr persuades us that we should do it wisely — with mindful automation. Carr’s human-centric technological future is one you might actually want to live in.” —Kevin Kelly, author of What Technology Wants
“Written with restrained objectivity, The Glass Cage is nevertheless scary as any sci-fi thriller could be. It forces readers to reflect on what they already suspect, but don’t want to admit, about how technology is shaping our lives.” —Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience; professor of psychology and management, Claremont Graduate University
“Carr brilliantly and scrupulously explores all the psychological and economic angles of our increasingly problematic reliance on machinery and microchips to manage almost every aspect of our lives. A must-read for software engineers and technology experts in all corners of industry as well as everyone who finds himself or herself increasingly dependent on and addicted to gadgets.” —Booklist (starred review)
“[An] incredible synthesis … Carr provides an elegantly written history of what role robotics have played in our past, and the possible role that they may play in our future. In a world where there’s a lot of technology cheerleaders, Carr is one of our most valuable skeptics.” —Elisabeth Donnelly, Flavorwire
“The Glass Cage is smart, insightful, and at times funny, as it takes readers through a series of anecdotes, academic research, and current and historical events to paint a portrait of a world readily handing itself over to intelligent devices.” —Jacob Axelrad, Christian Science Monitor
“Without resorting to scare tactics or sermonizing on the dangers of overautomation, [Carr's] book details in careful, measured ways both the promise of mechanization and its drawbacks … His historical, inclusive approach makes an issue most of those already deeply steeped in technology won’t find at all surprising — that what we’re losing might outweigh what we gain by relying on computers — a stimulating, absorbing read.” —Michelle Scheraga, Associated Press
“Carr, the consistently trenchant analyst of technological change who wrote The Shallows, here offers a thoughtful and sometimes disturbing account, grounded in science and poetry alike, of the ways that our increasing reliance on technology is affecting our happiness and re-shaping our humanity.” —Forbes
“Artificial intelligence has that name for a reason — it isn’t natural, it isn’t human. As Nicholas Carr argues so gracefully and convincingly in this important, insightful book, it is time for people to regain the art of thinking. It is time to invent a world where machines are subservient to the needs and wishes of humanity.” —Donald Norman, author of Things that Make Us Smart and Design of Everyday Things; director of the University of California San Diego Design Lab
“Most of us, myself included, are too busy tweeting to notice our march into technological de-humanization. Nicholas Carr applies the brakes for us (and our self-driving cars). Smart and concise, this book will change the way you think about the growing automation of our lives.” —Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story and Little Failure
“Nick 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 and Cognitive Surplus
“Sweeping, engaging, informative, [The Glass Cage] elicits much needed reflection on the philosophical and ethical implications of over-reliance on automation. Carr deftly incorporates hard research and historical developments with philosophy and prose to depict how technology is changing the way we live our lives and the world we find ourselves in.” —Publishers Weekly
“A sobering new analysis of the hazards of intelligent technology … We can’t say we weren’t warned.” —Hiawatha Bray, Boston Globe
“Fresh and powerful.” —Mark Bauerlein, The Weekly Standard
“A thought-provoking and accessible look at the costs — economic, cognitive, and moral — of our society’s increasing reliance on automation.” —Kevin Roose, New York
“A worthy antidote to the relentlessly hopeful futurism of Google, TED Talks and Walt Disney.” —James Janega, Chicago Tribune
“The Glass Cage is an elegant and elegiac book that raises doubts about the worth of automation in a variety of settings, from driving to farming to flying. Is Carr correct that automation costs us not only our jobs, but often our souls as well? He probably is.” —Thomas Davenport, CIO Journal
“If you always wanted your own Rosie the Robot, or if you’ve unsuccessfully tried to give up your smart phone for a day, this book will give you plenty to ponder – or to fear. Start The Glass Cage, and you won’t be able to put it down.” —Terri Schlichenmeyer, Style Magazine
“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
“Important [and] well-argued.” —Kirkus
US and Canada: W. W. Norton
UK and Australia: The Bodley Head
Germany: Hanser Verlag
Korea: Korea Economic Daily Media Group
Japan: Seido Sha
Czech Republic: Emitos
Poland: Jagiellonian University Press