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The Glass Cage Audiobook

The Glass Cage: Automation and Us

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Publisher's Summary

At once a celebration of technology and a warning about its misuse, The Glass Cage will change the way you think about the tools you use every day.

In The Glass Cage, bestselling author Nicholas Carr digs behind the headlines about factory robots and self-driving cars, wearable computers and digitized medicine, as he explores the hidden costs of granting software dominion over our work and our leisure. Even as they bring ease to our lives, these 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 hard 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.

©2014 Nicholas Carr (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

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  • CHET YARBROUGH
    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States
    17/01/15
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    Story
    "A MODERN LUDDITE"

    "The Glass Cage", written by Harvard alumnus Nicholas Carr, ironically places him in the shoes of an uneducated English textile artisan of the 19th century, known as a Luddite. Luddites protested against the industrial revolution because machines were replacing jobs formerly done by laborers. Just as the Luddites fomented arguments against mechanization, Carr argues automation creates unemployment, diminishes craftsmanship, and reduces human volition.

    Unquestionably, the advent of automation is traumatic but elimination of repetitive industrial labor by automation is as much a benefit to civilization as the industrial revolution was to low wage workers spinning textile frames. There is no question that employment was lost in the industrial revolution; just as it is in the automation age, but jobs have been and will continue to be created as the world adjusts to this new stage of productivity. Carr carries the Luddite argument a step further by inferring a mind’s full potential may only be achieved through a conjunction of mental and physical labor. Carr posits the loss of physical ability “to make and do things” diminishes civilization by making humans too dependent on automation.

    This period of the world’s adjustment is horrendously disruptive. It is personal to every parent or person that cannot feed, clothe, and house their family or them self because they have no job. Decrying the advance of automation is not the answer. Making the right political decisions about how to help people make the transition is what will advance civilization.

    36 of 47 people found this review helpful
  • Ted
    PARK CITY, UT, United States
    16/06/15
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    Story
    "Bereft of Comparisons to Non-Automated Systems"
    Any additional comments?

    I work for a home automation company (Control4), so I eagerly wanted a well-grounded view of the problems of automation. Instead, Carr's book wound up being pretty thin stew.

    Carr's major flaw is a lack of critical thinking. Throughout he offers numerous--sometimes frightening--anecdotes highlighting the hazards of automation, but never does he compare with non-automated systems. For example, he cites a few cases of airline incidents caused by pilots who have allegedly lost their muscle memory for flying aircraft because automation has reduced their active participation in controlling planes. But Carr then utterly fails to compare whether we had fewer pilot error instances when aircraft were less automated. With tens of thousands of aircraft aloft each day, is flying more dangerous now than they were when systems were less automated, and therefore more prone to human error? Carr provides nothing in this seemingly obvious regard. Without demonstrating that automation has made flight more dangerous based on real comparisons, Carr just comes off as Henny Penny.

    Similarly, Carr tries at one point to proclaim that automation is making jobs scarce. But Carr makes this assertion without consulting modern day economists. It could be true, but I don't see a compelling case laid out. Carr only offers more doom-and-gloom postulation. Custom Electronics installation in homes--my field--is now a booming industry, and companies that deal in it can't hire skilled technicians fast enough. As another reviewer (Chet Yarbrough) points out, people may need help adapting to the change, but that does not mean we can stop the advance of automation.

    I came to this book looking for a solid analysis of the negative impacts of automation. What I got was a lot of unsubstantiated hypotheses and fearful anecdotes. The only thing certain that listening to this book got me was this: Carr doesn't like automation.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • samuel d desocio
    Cortland NY
    05/10/16
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    Story
    "Timely"

    I'm sure after the revelations of NSA monitoring this book would have taken a different turn, but it pursued the question of where does technology and the best human existence come together. this book was challenging but not intentionally negative. I'm going to happily share it with others.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • steve wieber
    18/08/15
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    Story
    "Love it."

    It gave me a total different out look on today world and some of the problem we are facing as people. and a look into what are future may hold.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Maria
    10/07/15
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    "Interesting premise but too wordy"

    The idea behind this tittle has its merit but I found it went on and on with premises that were already established. I would edit 2 hrs worth and end up with a much better product. I listen while I commute and sometimes I found my mind wondering as nothing new or exciting was being added. The narration was very good and kept me engaged as not to quit the tittle.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dale Foster
    Cordova, TN USA
    07/06/15
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    "More poetry than science"

    Beautifully written narrative with many meaningful reflections and human interest stories. However, it seems to me Nicholas Carr forgot to explore how evolutionary neuroscience reveals much about our automation of both our construction of reality and perception of it. Continuous mechanization and automation is what evolutionary biology does. Now, with our information technologies, we can do it consciously OR unconsciously. Our choice. Although dualism, where Carr seems to have hung his hat, has offered us much, the quest for a unitary physicalism has given us science.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Raider Rodney
    NC
    30/05/15
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    Performance
    Story
    "Very eye opening"

    I think everyone should listen to this whether they are a mild or heavy user of electronic devices. I could relate most of the stories to real life situations at home and work.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Ray
    West Deptford, NJ, United States
    29/05/15
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    "INTERESTING PERSPECTIVES"

    Author Car raises some interesting questions about the the negative implications of automation. Unlike most tools which became extensions of ourselves, technology could end up enslaving us. It could lure us into a false sense of security. I especially liked the last chapter and thr relation to a poem of Robert Frost. I do feel that the argument could have been made with fewer words. I would especially recommend the book for those who wonder whether technology will free or enslave mankind and the ethical issues that it raises.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Sheila
    Dallas, TX
    25/05/15
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    Story
    "Good but not his best"

    I like this book but not as much as The Shallows. It is a bit longer and more emotional than it needs to be. That said I agree with most of his points and the few examples he gives for what we can do about the problem.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Edward P.
    18/05/15
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    Story
    "Good look at the other side of tech"

    Wasn't as negative as I thought it might be. Fairly objective. More people should look at the "other side" of what tech brings.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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