Chapter 17. Automation

The human species is often amazingly inventive and industrious but at the same time profoundly lazy. It’s very clear that we humans don’t like to work. This aversion to work is so extreme—and our ingenuity so acute—that we’re eager to devote countless hours designing and building devices that might shave a few minutes off our workday. Few fantasies tickle the human pleasure center more than a vision of relaxing in a hammock watching some newfangled contraption we just built mow the lawn.

I’m afraid I won’t be showing plans for an automatic lawn-mowing machine in these pages. But in this chapter, through a progression of ever more sophisticated machines, I will automate the process of adding and subtracting numbers. This ...

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