Student Author(s)

Karina Winkelman

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. James Herrick

Document Type


Event Date



Donald MacKay wrote in his 1974 book, A Clockwork Image, “In our age, when people look for explanations, the tendency more and more is to conceive of any and every situation that we are trying to understand by analogy with a machine.” He called this condition, “machine-mindedness.” What are the sources of this perspective and what concerns, if any, does it raise? This paper argues that the “machine-minded” perspective is more prevalent and more dangerous than one would expect. The history of “machine-mindedness” is traced back to Descartes into the Cybernetics era of the ‘40s and ‘50s to present day cognitive psychology and futurism. Though many perpetuate this perspective, this paper provides insight into the challenges associated with “machine-mindedness”, particularly its impact on our view of what it means to be human.