When efficiency is our only goal, how do we know if we are going in the right direction? This is the fundamental question asked by Devices Of The Soul, by Steve Talbott. We allow our selves to think that a computer can add two plus two in the same way that we can and nothing can be further from the truth, says Talbott. The computer has no motivation, no consciousness of the task, no mobilization of will, no metabolic activity and no imagination.
Devices Of The Soul is broken down into five parts that takes you from the dawn of modern technology by using the tales of Odysseus and building a foundation to understand the use of technology today.
Part one, "Technology, Nature, and the Human Prospect", looks at how technical devices have played a positive role in human transformation, but now are leading us toward a state of unconsciousness. Here Odysseus, the man of many devices has transformed to the modern man of many devices. From there we explore what happens when a primitive culture has to adapt to modern technology. Then the idea of how is the environment affected by technology? Just as when we put bird food out in winter, we encourage an unnatural amount of birds into the area, what are we affecting in the bird population? Disease, overpopulation; and when we stop the feeding? Death?
Part two, "Extraordinary Lives" asks the question, "Can Technology make the handicapped whole?" This part explores that question and as well as the questions of just because we can do something, does it mean that we should? Especially if we don't really understand what we are doing.
Part three "From Information To Education," considers the natural world as an educational resource and then a teacher who finds disturbing, the actual use of computers in classrooms across the country. By elevating the importance of information we may loose sight of the purpose of actual knowledge.