Today, technology has found its way into nearly all aspects of the human experience. From vehicles to homes and hospitals, no aspect has escaped the influences of technology. In his novel Machines like me, McEwan essentially made predictions about the realities of today. This book explores the far-reaching impacts that sophisticated digital technologies can have on human society. While it is a work of fiction, Machines like me is eerily familiar and many readers will find its plot and themes to be relatable.
Machines like me explores a heavily technological world. It gives special focus to 1982 England, a nation that is over-run by complex technologies. Humans are heavily reliant on technologies like robots. This is certainly the case today where technology is replacing human effort in nearly all endeavors. In the initial stages of his book, McEwan depicts technology as a force that drives human progress. This portrayal helps readers to relax and understand that technology is not necessarily a threat; it can be harnessed to fuel growth and development.
While he acknowledges the power of technology to facilitate human progress, McEwan also issues a warning. He helps readers to recognize that technologies do indeed pose a danger. In particular, McEwan suggests that technologies drive reckless consumerism. He does this by focusing on Charlie, a 32-year-old man who appears to struggle to form health relationships. For him, robots offer an escape from the crashing loneliness that his isolation brings. The main take-away is that technology promises empty companionship but instead of helping individuals to lead more fulfilling lives, it only pushes them toward greater spending.
In addition to pressuring individuals to purchase items that do not add any real value, modern technologies also cause serious damage to relationships. This is another message that McEwan must have set out to convey. Through his description of how Adam, the robot that Charlie purchases frustrates his efforts to establish a friendship with his neighbor, Miranda. There is no question that McEwan aimed to warn readers that even as they embrace technology, they should recognize the threat that they pose. These advances continue to ruin relationships today, decades after McEwan issued his warning.
As one reads Machines like me, it becomes nearly impossible to refrain from drawing the parallels between the events in the novel and the present world. For example, McEwan depicts Adam as a highly intelligent robot that is able to over-rule the intentions and defy the commands of its human owner. While the intelligence of this robot is remarkable, it is also frightening. In the recent past, concerns have been raised that highly intelligent robots could threaten humanity. McEwan expressed this concern years ago. Readers will be driven to understand that humanity must move with speed to contain and gain better control over technologies like artificial intelligence.
As part of his warning to mankind to be wary of advanced technologies, McEwan indicated that human connections are far more superior than those mediated by technologies. For example, using the character of Mark, McEwan enlightens readers that the capacity to form meaningful, deep and real relationships are what makes humans special. While technologies have remarkable memories and can perform many feats, they are simply unable to replicate the success that humans have had in forming authentic connections. Therefore, instead of allowing machines and robots to drive their relationships, humans need to reclaim control over.
Many who have read McEwan’s Machines like me place this novel in the Sci-Fi category. While this classification is not entirely incorrect, it fails to fully appreciate the complexity and relevance of the novel. It would be best to classify this book as a historical documentation of human society. The novel accurately captures the reality of human society and for this reason, it should be regarded s more than a Sci-Fi creation. The fact that it correctly represents the technological progress that mankind has made helps to highlight McEwan’s remarkable vision.
For the most part, Machines like me is engaging and insightful. However, there are a few issues which dampen its impact. Among its limitations is the fact that McEwan failed to imbue the book with the reality and authenticity that readers would expect. For example, the tones and actual words of some of the characters sound rather mechanical and do not reflect the reality of human conversations. As a result of this limitation, the novel fails to appeal to readers who are interested in an untainted and accurate representation of human interactions. While this limitation erodes the appeal of the book, the novel remains immensely engrossing and exciting.
It appears that McEwan recognized that his novel would not be perfect and that he would struggle to keep the interest of readers. However, McEwan provides many interesting elements that help to redeem the book. For instance, by combining Sci-Fi with history, the novel manages to gain the attention of fans of the two genres. More importantly, the two approaches that the novel adopts inject it with interest, depth and personality. Therefore, readers should expect a thrilling experience that leaves them deeply fulfilled.
The Sci-Fi space is becoming overcrowded. It is nearly impossible for a novel in this genre to stand out. However, McEwan manages to grab and maintain the attention of his readers. He does this by presenting a compelling narrative in a way that readers find interesting yet familiar and relatable. This novel receives a resounding approval and is hereby recommended to all those looking to be entertained, enlightened, and to have their perspectives expanded.