When autonomous technologies appear to be calling all the shots, it’s only logical for humans to conclude that if we can’t beat them, we may as well join them. Whenever people are captivated — be they excited or enslaved — by a new technology, it becomes their new role model, too.
In the Industrial Age, as mechanical clocks dictated human time and factory machines outpaced human workers, we began to think of ourselves in very mechanical terms. We described ourselves as living in a “clockwork universe,” in which the human body was one of the machines. Our language slowly became invested with mechanical metaphors: We needed to grease the wheels, crank up the business, dig deeper, or turn a company into a well-oiled machine. Even everyday phrases, such as “fueling up” for eating lunch or “he has a screw loose” for thinking illogically, conveyed the acceptance of humans as mechanical devices.