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quotations about machines

Our predecessors endeavoured to make men into machines; we are endeavouring to make machines into men.


Machines are worshipped because they are beautiful and valued because they confer power; they are hated because they are hideous and loathed because they impose slavery.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, Sceptical Essays

The fact is, that civilisation requires slaves. The Greeks were quite right there. Unless there are slaves to do the ugly, horrible, uninteresting work, culture and contemplation become almost impossible. Human slavery is wrong, insecure, and demoralizing. On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of the machine, the future of the world depends.

OSCAR WILDE, The Soul of Man Under Socialism

We are survival machines -- robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.


I visualize a time when we will be to robots what dogs are to humans, and I'm rooting for the machines.

CLAUDE SHANNON, The Mathematical Theory of Communication

Machinery is the chief symbol of modern civilization; it represents a great sin.


Machines smart enough to do anything for us will probably also be able to do anything with us: go to dinner, own property, compete for sexual partners. They might even have passionate opinions about politics or, like the robots on Battlestar Galactica, even religious beliefs. Some have worried about robot rebellions, but with so many tort lawyers around to apply the brakes, the bigger question is this: Will humanoid machines enrich our social lives, or will they be a new kind of television, destroying our relationships with real humans?

FRED HAPGOOD, Discover Magazine, June 2008

You do not need to be Alan Greenspan to understand that the more things a machine can do, the bigger the market.

FRED HAPGOOD, Discover Magazine, June 2008

The machine has no feelings, it feels no fear and no hope ... it operates according to the pure logic of probability. For this reason I assert that the robot perceives more accurately than man.

MAX FRISCH, Homo Faber: A Report

Machinery makes men like itself.

GERALD STANLEY LEE, Inspired Millionaires

Sometimes ... dreams are all that separate us from the machines.

DAN SIMMONS, The Fall of Hyperion

Compassion--that's the one thing no machine ever had. Maybe it's the one thing that keeps man ahead of them.

D.C. FONTANA, Star Trek: The Ultimate Computer

It is only when they go wrong that machines remind you how powerful they are.

CLIVE JAMES, The Crystal Bucket

One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men, but no machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.

CROFT M. PENTZ, The Complete Book of Zingers

Machines will follow a path that mirrors the evolution of humans. Ultimately, however, self-aware, self-improving machines will evolve beyond humans' ability to control or even understand them.

RAY KURZWEIL, Scientific American, June 2010

To know the machine one must know where each part belongs, and what its office is.


Thoughts are no more than electrical surges in the brain. Sexual arousal is no more than a flow of chemicals to certain nerve endings. Sadness is no more than a bit of acid transfixed in the cerebellum. In short, the body is a machine, subject to the same laws of electricity and mechanics as an electron or clock.

ALAN LIGHTMAN, Einstein's Dreams

Machinery is the subconscious mind of the world.


Can men live in a machine-civilization, a civilization in which men are obliged to earn their money with machines, in which they cannot even spend it without machines -- have souls?... I have come to believe that it is not by any economic scheme, or social device, some way of inventing evil off the earth, but by great personal beliefs, that the battle for the existence of the soul in an age of machines will have to be fought. If it is true that these great, splendid, blind machines are crowding me, and crowding my brother, and even crowding God, from off the earth, there can be but one reason for it, and that is that my brother has been so busy in making bigger and bigger machines every year that he has forgotten to make bigger men to go with them, and bigger beliefs to make bigger men out of.

GERALD STANLEY LEE, Inspired Millionaires

The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed. The test of the machine's always your own mind. There isn't any other test.

ROBERT M. PIRSIG, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

When one speaks of increasing power, machinery, and industry there comes up a picture of a cold, metallic sort of world in which great factories will drive away the trees, the flowers, the birds, and the green fields. And that then we shall have a world composed of metal machines and human machines. With all of that I do not agree. I think that unless we know more about the machines and their use, unless we better understand the mechanical portion of life, we cannot have the time to enjoy the trees, and the birds, and the flowers, and the green fields.

HENRY FORD, introduction, My Life and Work

The machines men are so intent on making have carried them very far from the old sweet things.


Who is all-powerful in the world? Who is most dreadful in the world? The machine. Who is most fair, most wealthy, and all-wise? The machine. What is the earth? A machine. What is the sky? A machine. What is man? A machine. A machine.


There is no difference between machine autonomy and the abdication of human responsibility.

JARON LANIER, "One Half of a Manifesto", The New Humanists: Science at the Edge

A machine is more blameless, more sinless even than any animal. It has no intentions whatsoever but our own.

URSULA K. LE GUIN, The Lathe of Heaven

Machine makers always run the risk of becoming totally machine.

FRANK HERBERT, God Emperor of Dune


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