Humans and Technology

Man has become less rational than his own objects, which now run ahead of him, so to speak, organizing his surroundings and thus appropriating his actions. Take the washing machine, for instance. In its form and operation it has no clear relationship to the clothes washed. The whole operation of washing has lost its specificity in space and time; it is a minimal intervention, a timed procedure in which the water itself is no more than an abstract vehicle for detergent chemicals. Functionally speaking, the washing machine belongs, therefore, to a relational field utterly different from that of the old-fashioned washboard or wash-tub — a functional field of associations which is no longer coextensive with the objective operations, with the refrigerator, with the television, with the components of interior design, or with the automobile. Traditional tools, by contast, belonged to a field of practical mediation between the material to be transformed and the person doing the transforming. We have thus moved from the depth of a vertical field to the extension of a horizontal one.

Just as the various parts of an object’s mechanism have structure, so the various technical objects tend, independently of man, to become organized by themselves, to refer to one another in the uniformity of their simplified praxis, and thus come to constitute an articulated order, persuing its own mode of technological development, wherein man’s role does not go beyond a mechanical control which may well ultimately be taken over by the machine itself.

Jean Baudrillard; The System of Objects

Smart guy.