Since the beginning of the scientific progress, people have been putting their hopes on technologies and their potential possibilities concerning the development and comfortable life of the humanity. Nowadays, people strive to introduce technologies deeper in their lives and automate all possible processes without having any accurate idea about their negative consequences. The latter can be observed not only on the ecological level but also in the moral, ethical, physical and general developmental aspect. Mankind hardly has a general idea about the danger of technological dependence though one of the risks is obvious as being in full dependence people will not be able to survive in case of any technological failure. However, science fiction literature includes the ideas related to the future of mankind if technological obsession will be out of control. The authors suggest their variants of the human destiny in case of full technological dependence, and these variants are rather scaring. Both “The Machine Stops” by Forster and “There Will Come Soft Rain” by Bradbury demonstrate the negative outcomes of technological dependence such as anarchy, ignorance, and destruction of the family units.
The main impact of technological dependence is on the family institution that is transformed in the negative aspect in the stories. Both narrations represent a tragic outcome of the technological over-development that took place in human society. The institution of family is destroyed mainly because people lose their normal senses and do not need each other anymore. This idea should be the primal for people who believe that if technology rules their lives, the latter will become better. The stories represent different aspects of the technological dependence; however, in both cases, they set people back that resulted in a tragedy in the family as well as in the entire society. In “The Machine Stops,” the society is depicted absolutely dependent on the technologies whereas in Bradbury’s work, only the results of such dependence can be seen. The main difference between stories is that the second one represents only the general idea about human way of living in the technological future. Contrastingly, the main commonality between the stories is related to the depiction of general insensibility of the technological facilities to human aspects of being. In “The Machine Stops,” such an insensible approach becomes typical for people in particular. The example in “There Will Come Soft Rain” can be found in the situation with a dog. When the dog died in the house, the mechanism burnt its body as if it was a litter, same as any garbage is the house was burnt. In “The Machine Stops,” vanishing of humanity and sensitivity can be related to the way people are treating one another. When somebody dies, the ‘friends’ of this person feel no sorrow. They do not touch each other and hate any contact with one another. They are transforming in a kind of machines themselves being afraid of everything outside their small rooms with all necessary inside.
However, the societies depicted by writers are different in some aspects. For instance, despite there is no specific information about the dead family in “There Will Come Soft Rain,” it is possible to define that its way of life was closer to the traditional human one, especially compared to the lifestyle in Forster’s story. They had a normal family, in which children were playing to each other: “Still farther over, their images burned on wood in one titanic instant, a small boy, hands flung into the air; higher up, the image of a thrown ball, and opposite him a girl, hands raised to catch a ball which never came down” (Bradbury 10). The family had a dog and a traditional house, and their style of life was different only by means of technological role.
At the same time, in “The Machine Stops,” the family situation, motherhood, and relations between people are completely different and can even be considered tragic in some aspects. People completely abandon the institution of family, and their lives are concentrated around personal needs. Even when the children are born, they are taken from their parents forever. The main character considers it to be normal: “But she thought of Kuno as a baby, his birth, his removal to the public nurseries, her own visit to him there, his visits to her-visits which stopped when the Machine had assigned him a room on the other side of the earth. “Parents, duties of,” said the book of the Machine,” cease at the moment of birth” (Forster 56). In fact, people do not have a right to choose whether they want children, they only hope that they will be selected for parental programs. It is a kind of gen programming in accordance with the needs of the machine. Vashti does not even want to listen to her son, to help him, or to devote some time to him.
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The next aspect that deserves attention is ignorance of people living in the fully technological society. People do not care of the way everything is working, and it results in the catastrophe in both cases. The main issue in both stories is the technological dependence, the inordinate relying on it disregarding personal development. The authors claim that if people relax and stop their development, they will suffer from it because all the mechanisms are not eternal and not really reliable. For instance, in Bradbury’s story, there is no necessity for people to do at least anything themselves. The tables with cards are automatic, the meal is cooked for them, the dishes are washed, and even the poems are read by the machine. In some meaning, the aforementioned issue demonstrates some regression of aesthetic and spiritual life of people. In Foster’s story, despite it is broadly manifested that people have been developing while lectures, their thoughts are limited a lot. They are concentrated on the spectrum of themes and interests of the Machine. The biggest manifestation of ignorance and degradation can be found in the episode when the main character, Vashti, does not want to look at the beautiful mountains and is scared of the sunlight. It is a sign of the weakness, helplessness, and spiritual poverty of people living in their mechanic tiny world. In addition, she does not have enough delicacy to manifest at least any interest to the world outside. It is an extreme conformism and weakness; and the society living underground consists of such people. Technologies make them weak and dependent, they launch own religion of the Machine and do not hear anybody who disagree with their position. They are not strong even in the physical aspect, and it is a part of their philosophy: “Each infant was examined at birth, and all who promised undue strength were destroyed. Humanitarians may protest, but it would have been no true kindness to let an athlete live” (Forster 63). The characters of the story are weak, and it leads to their absolutely helpless in the fighting and surviving.
Moreover, the aspect that deserves special attention is the anarchy that takes place after the technologies are not able to support people anymore. It is present in both stories though the finale scenes of “The Machine Stops” are the most important in this aspect. There are no exact details in Bradbury’s work related to the catastrophe that took place whereas “The Machine Stops” demonstrates the death of people dependent on technologies in rather detailed way. The moment when the Machine stops turns out to be a genuine catastrophe for those who could not imagine their lives without this technology. Anarchy is the most accurate concept that is able to characterize the last minutes of their lives, as they do not have at least basic skills for survival. People are running in the narrow corridor, damaging each other, screaming, and feeling absolutely lost. They lost any organizational skills, and it is impossible for them to stop panic. Anarchy can be seen not only in their behavior but also in their thinking. Vashti does not want to contact them, and that is the reason she prefers to stay in her room at first. However, the desire to survive makes her leave the room and see the genuine picture of the anarchy and destruction caused by people who became helpless because of the Machine.
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In conclusion, ruining the family institution, ignorance, and anarchy are the main effects for mankind in case of technological dependence. Both stories provide a clear idea of what can happen to the humanity in case the machines will become more important than people are. Both works are very didactic for modern human beings and teach be sensible in developing technologies and making them responsible for own lives.