We live in a time of raging technology. Everything is changing as the microprocessors are taking everything over. A couple of centuries ago a group called the Luddites simply rejected technology beyond what they knew back when the microprocessor was called the steam engine. Luddites smashed machines to retain control. It didn’t work. Technology won. Everything changed.

In a similar way, I think technology has become a public crisis once again. Not since the advent of The Machines has our culture convulsed as it is now with the advent of the pervasive robot. I know this personally because I am an architect and the technological revolution is changing my 40 year profession in ways that will forever transform it.

But control is a human need as well as it is a societal one.

I will never (ever) own a snow blower. No, I do not want to bait my body into a heart attack, or even a sore back. I rake leaves rather than blow them and push my lawn mower too, rather than ride. I am no Green Freak: My mower uses gasoline.

Like the Luddites, my finding value in connection could just be contrarian. I have never owned blue jeans. Or sunglasses. I resisted automatic transmission and am mystified by tattoos. These personal choices seemed tainted by fashion to me. But the intense imposition of “Artificial Intelligence” is anything but fashion—the new technology will radically change more than behavior, it promises to alter the way humans think of everything: just like the Industrial Revolution. 

Like everybody else I do like control, even the control that eschews technology. But I also value connection, and, for good or for ill, when we lose contact with anything, we lose a measure of connection.

That is one reason I go to church. Every week. Twenty miles away from where we live. God is everywhere, especially in me, 24/7, but I connect with the faith of my youth there. The manual standing, kneeling, speaking, singing in the way I have for 60 years all force me to connect to something that is far greater than the physical. If the world was before me to be denied: always at 72°F, no snow, no fallen leaves, grass that never gets taller than 2in high, I might feel better, but I would have less connection to it.

Technology has a way of allowing us to disconnect. Now we can be together in vast separation, looking at screens. Now we never add or divide numbers: we click. Now we begin to look to screens to think: And, most intimately for me, in architecture, where new and exploding “Building Information Management” offer a huge database of millions of hours of others’ thoughts on every aspect of creating any building. Why think when you can click?

Frank Lloyd Wright had scores of free interns—many even paid him to help extend his architectural designs at Taliesin into exquisite definition and detail. Architects, like me, especially old ones like me, automatically assume the new technology will just be better interns, better extensions of an elite human genius. But we would be wrong.

As church attendance, and the kneeling, standing, singing is waning, I know no connection via screens offers the same power and presence of being together in a place and ritual that defines me. Maybe we are coming to hope that the screens we connect with simply replace the space we once shared. But that would be wrong too. The disconnection of not having “when two or more gather in his name” changes us—at least I know it would change me.

Of course all technology extends each of us, but now, that changing technology, soon in the form of “Artificial Intelligence”, promises to change the way everything is done beyond extension, into reinvention. The Luddites were right: the Industrial Revolution ended the artisanal for all but an epicurean, esoterically crafty few who value doing.

In my suburban world, the “Old Technology” of leaf blowers, mowing tractors, and snow blowers are viewed by many of my neighbors as those humans who you hire to use those machines. The smoothly safe Suburbo-World I seem to be a part of often values disconnection from disempowerment of any kind.

The movie(s) “Stepford, Connecticut” offered up a world where the empowering control of suburban white men extended to the creation of appliances who served as wives. That level of complete control is both a hope and a fear for all of us: but, as in Stepford, the feared change in our humanity may change us in ways that end up disconnecting us from the God who made us. To me, that is called evil, no matter how human an impulse it is, especially in me. 

For many, the “New Technology” allows us to avoid connection to other tasks at hand as well. “Progress” usual equates to more time to pursue things like binge-watching or gaming or being on line—or maybe just being with those you love. I know physically going to a place to be with people connects me to God in a way praying, alone, does not.

When I shovel my driveway, I am part of it. Raking connects me to my gardens, mowing to my lawn. Church to God.

But in a time of the “New Technology” we all operate with greater understanding and, in theory tighter control than ever. CERN explodes with new data everyday, as do any number of space explorations. But those extensions promise a change in us that the Luddites legitimately feared back in the day. 

We know more than ever. We do more than ever. But I think I know that I have never known less, or feel less powerful than when the New World of the “New Technology” so starkly reveals my incapacities.