The Machine Stops By E.M. Forster
E. M. Forster (Edward Morgan Forster), was hailed by The Times in his obituary as “one of the most esteemed English novelists of his time”. He was educated at King’s College in Cambridge where he was elected to an honorary fellowship in 1946. From 1905 until 1924 he created six novels with one being published after his death. He also wrote two volumes of short stories and two collections of essays as well as two biographies and two non-fiction book about Alexandria.
The Machine Stops is a science fiction story about a world that is no longer able to sustain humankind. People’s needs are provided by a global machine. Everyone has their own cell where the Machine looks after all of their bodily and spiritual needs. They are so dependent on the machine that they fear any direct experiences but most of the humans don’t mind this. Over time the humans forget that they actually created the machine and believe that it is a deity. If anyone does not accept The Machine as a deity are told that they must leave. Over time just like every other machine. The Machine comes to an end.
If we look at society today, there is a lot to compare between The Machine and society and technology today. The Machine is a prediction that seems to have come very close to coming true. Forster predicted that technology would be the only way to communicate. Look at how we communicate with friends and close family. When we are not actually with them, we text, use Facebook, twitter or Skype as well as email. In business we no longer are a team of 4-5 in one office, we can be working alongside people from other countries, and we can communicate through email, text, and video conferencing. We no longer hand in our work to our tutors and professors we have Dropboxes so we can complete our essay one minute before the final submission time.
But unlike The Machine, we use social networking and other technologies to support our communication skills. It is like having the person you are communicating to with you and sharing information as your day progresses. Our technologies are not a substitute for communication skills, they enhance them. There are some people who find communicating face to face difficult, but our technologies have helped them to communicate with others far more than they would have been able to without our machines.