新概念英语Lesson 56 The Age of Automation自动化时代

science and technology have come to pervade every aspect of our lives and, as a result, society is
changing at a speed which is quite unprecedented. There is a great technological explosion around
us, generated by science. This explosion is already freeing vast numbers of people from their
traditional bondage to nature, and now at last we have it in our power to free mankind once and for
all from the fear which is based on want. Now, for the first time, man can reasonably begin to think
that life can be something more than a grim struggle for survival. But even today, in spite of the high
standard of living which has become general in the more fortunate West, the majority of people in
the world still spend nearly all their time and energy in a never-ending struggle with nature to secure
the food and shelter they need. Even in this elementary effort millions of human beings each year
die unnecessarily and wastefully from hunger, disease, or flood.
Yet,in the West, science and technology have made it possible for us to have a plentiful supply of
food, produced by only a fraction of the labour that was necessary even a few decades ago. In the
United States, for instance, one man on the land produces more than enough food to feed fifteen
men in the cities, and, in fact, there is a surplus of food grown even by this small proportion of the
American labour force. We have considerably extended our expectation of life. We have enriched
our lives by creating physical mobility through the motor-car, the jet aeroplane, and other means of
mechanical transport; and we have added to our intellectual mobility by the telephone, radio, and
television. Not content with these advances, we are now thrusting forward to the stars, and the
conquest o space no longer strikes us as Wellsian or Jules Vernian. And with the advent of the new
phase of technology we call automation, we have the promise both of greater leisure and of even
greater material and intellectual riches.
But this is not inevitable. It depends on automation being adequately exploited. We shall need to
apply our scientific and technological resources to literally every aspect of our society, to our
commerce, our industry, our Medicine, our agriculture, our transportation.
It is fascinating and encouraging to observe the development of this immense process, a process in
which man appears all the time to be engaged in the act of creating an extension of himself. In his
new technological successes this appears particularly true. He is extending his eyes with radar; his
tongue and his ear through telecommunication; his muscle and body structure through
mechanization. He extends his own energies by the generation and transmission of power and his
nervous system and his thinking and decision-making faculties through automation. If this
observation is accurate, as I believe it is, the implications are far-reaching. It might be reasonable to
conclude that the direction of modern science and technology is towards the creation of a series of
machine-systems based on man as a model.