February 20, 2013
Automation Sets Us Free : A 1929 essay by Arthur D. Little argued that workers and consumers would benefit from more mass production, not less. (Arthur D. Little, March/April 2013, MIT Technology Review Magazine)
Posted by Orrin Judd at February 20, 2013 10:20 AMExcerpted from "Research and Labor: A Chemist Looks at Modern Life," in the December 1929 issue of The Technology Review, by Arthur D. Little, founder of the management consulting firm that bears his name.We are living in the age of science, the machine, and mass production. Like all the ages which have gone before, it is not without its contemporary critics. They would have us believe that ... the worker has become the slave of the machine, and that mass production has engulfed us in materialism, converted the craftsman into the tightener of the bolt, and robbed the world of beauty ... All this, if true, would be, indeed, a sorry outcome of the long series of intellectual triumphs which, during the last one hundred and fifty years, have given man so large a measure of mastery over his environment ... [...]The machine is saving us much time. We produce, transport, and distribute the necessities of life with the expenditure of a small fraction of the time and effort required of our forefathers. The time cost of living has gone down.