Books : reviews

Thomas Rid.
Rise of the Machines: the lost history of cybernetics.
Scribe. 2016

Thomas Rid’s revelatory cybernetic history pulls together disparate threads in the history of technology, from the invention of radar and pilotless flying bombs in World War Two to today’s age of CCTV, cryptocurrencies and virtual realities. Rid traces how our anxieties about privacy and security have long shaped the new digital future that we have been steadily, sometimes inadvertently, creating for ourselves. Rise of the Machines makes a singular and significant contribution to the advancement of our clearer understanding of our gadget-obsessed future – and of the puzzling past that has generated it. The line between utopia and dystopia turned out to be disturbingly thin.