I think that Postman raises good points about the ideology of the computer age. It’s easy to see how the computer affects our lives, sometimes in ways that allow us to avoid emotions, individuality, and the qualities that make us “human.” Ambiguity becomes less acceptable to us. Important questions and issues are reduced to true or false, yes or no, good or bad.
The forces that want to turn our lives into an assembly line aren’t just computers. Faceless bureaucracies operate with the same principles. Multinational corporations, for example, bring their standardized production and marketing practices to the world, without regard for local culture. But we also see the importance of personal contact in the computer age. We have a tendency to reject technologies that turn us into machines, make us less human. In a technopoly, people are primarily seen as consumers. We may be consumers, but we’re consumers that are extremely selective. We fight standardization by taking pride in our individual tastes. We’re always seeking to distinguish ourselves, to break out of the role of simple information processors.
Postman says that his experience in administration showed him that people, in general, unquestioningly accept the judgment of computers, and that a common reason given to do something is “because the computer said so.” But Postman doesn’t give us enough credit. Computers that make decisions already have values built into them. If you go into a bank and ask for a loan but have no income, a computer will probably tell you that you can’t have the loan. This is because a human made a judgment that people without incomes would likely be unable to repay loans. You can’t argue with the computer, because it worked perfectly, considering the instructions it was given. You’re also not in a position to argue with the human who determined that people without incomes can’t repay loans—he or she might be inaccessible. Postman thinks that people consider the computer to be a deity. In general, people know that computers are ultimately controlled by other humans’ values.