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Technopoly of Automated Transit

The concept behind technopolies is complex on many levels. It seems to me that the main goal behind Technology is to evolve the workings of a process so that it is more efficient than what existed before. A washer, dyer, microwave, dishwasher, and car are all examples of such a progression from manual labor to aided completion. Technology has been moving along at a rapid rate of reproduction. This advanced thinking and development of new technology has begun to move in a direction that now requires little to no aid from humans. This is seen through the example of automated transit.

The automated transit system, for example, found at the many large airports carry people from stop to stop without a driver or conductor involved in this process. It is all automated from some type of computer system. The simplicity of this concept is clear; no drivers are needed so in the long-run less money is spent on paying someone to actively operate the machine.

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However, this process does have its flaws (as seen from personal experience). While traveling over Thanksgiving vacation I had the opportunity to ride on the AirTrain at San Francisco International Airport. At one particular stop, a large group of people awaited to board the train. They began to file into the cars but seemingly not at a quick enough pace because less than two minutes later, the doors abruptly began to close, trapping an elderly woman between the doors. At this time, the automated voice of the AirTrain sternly reported “Please clear the doorway. You are delaying the departure of this train?.

There is no other way to draw a conclusion here but to say this… If an actual person was operating the train, I doubt this would have happened. The flaw with automated machines like this is that they are programmed to only execute a particular set of situations. They do not know that instead of giving an elderly woman a stern lecture about making people late, it should hold the doors a few moments longer for her to comfortably enter the train safely.

As another student in discussion mentioned, a similar avenue is being explored in the area of automated surgery. What if the body happened to move slightly from the configuration the machine was set to respond to? This could cause serious damage and personally isn’t worth the risk. Concepts like these make me wonder how far our advancements with technopolies will go and if they will also evolve a better way to respond to the natural unknowns in life.