Machines captivate humans: Rhetorical Strategies in Tufekci’s “The Machines Are Coming”

Rhetorical Strategies  in Tufekci’s “The Machines Are Coming”

The idea that the machines are coming to capture the modern society and substitute humans in their workplace is supported by numerous social analysts, journalists, and technologists all over the world. One of the proponents of this view is Zeynep Tufekci who outlined in the article “The Machines Are Coming” the rapid development of technology and its possible negative consequences for the job market and the community as a whole. The author claims that nowadays machines can easily substitute humans almost in every branch of their activity that, definitely, can negatively affect their future. What is more, Zeynep Tufekci aims to make people contemplate the issue and change attitude towards each other in order to let the machines empower humans but not control them. Tufekci starts to create credibility of his article by appealing to general knowledge of the readers, their common experience, and examples from everyday life; the author also uses some historical background and opinions of the experts to follow the purpose of the entry. Although the article lacks scientific sources and researches, the writer informs the readers about possible encroachment of the robots into the human life and its consequences and makes people consider the issue.

In his article, Zeynep Tufekci focuses on the intrusion of the technology into the life of people, the increase in its importance among the employees, and resulting from it staff reduction. The author starts the article by comparing the modern machines with “a college-educated, well-compensated lab technician” that can perform almost every type of work (Tufekci). Furthermore, Mr. Tufekci describes the application of the robots in the modern world, their capabilities, and functions. The author compares the characteristics of a human and machine to outline the advantages of the latter. The computers appear to be cheaper, more predictable and easier to control than their human colleagues. Moreover, computers “can’t quit, forget or get pregnant” (Tufekci). Thus, the solution is clear for the big companies, namely to replace workers with automatic systems. What is more surprising is that this idea was openly advocated for in the advertisement almost fifty years ago. The author considers the life experience of a call center worker who is afraid to lose his job and be substituted by the machine. In addition, Mr. Tufekci underlines two prime ways in which the technology can be used today. The first one is to automate manufacturing and seize power from humans. The second one is to inform and empower people, making their work and life easier. At the end of the article, the author presents the optimistic view on the problem which recognizes the solution of the issue in the increase in education and development of new skills. Nevertheless, the writer disagrees with this perspective on the things and states that education is not enough to mitigate the problem. Zeynep Tufekci believes that by changing attitude towards each other, humans can create their alternative future in which the machines will empower but not control them.

In the article, Mr. Tufekci uses a lot of reliable sources, general knowledge, and examples from everyday life to strengthen the credibility of the argument and appeal to ethos. Thus, the author describes the situations which are common and familiar to the population of the United States. One of them is the presence of emotion-detection robots on the borders to interview visitors of the country (Tufekci). What is more, Zeynep Tufekci appeals to the advertisement of 1967 which aimed to encourage usage of automatic systems in the workplace. The author considers the experience of personnel and presents the conversation with a call center worker. Citing and using these sources, the writer illustrates the opinion of the society about the spread of technology and its influence on the life of ordinary people.

The author appeals to logos by providing the logical progression of ideas and inserting the opinion of the social scientist Shoshana Zuboff about the issue. The well-structured organization of the entry gives the readers proper introduction to the problem and outlines development of the argument, possible solutions, and conclusion. Mr. Tufekci uses both the facts from the history and recent events to support his argument and persuade the reader about its importance. At the same time, the writer does not use any scientific findings, statistics, or data from the research to increase the reliability of all the presented ideas. Instead of it, Zeynep Tufekci presents general examples and assumptions, without providing any names of scientists, researches, or books, “Optimists insist that we’ve been here before, during the Industrial Revolution, when machinery replaced manual labor, and all we need is a little more education and better skills” (Tufekci). Therefore, the absence of any reliable sources lowers the credibility of the article and makes readers doubt the competency of the author.

Along with logos and ethos appeals, Mr. Tufekci considers the pathos in his article. The author does not express his own emotions but appeals to the emotions of the readers by providing examples from everyday life and topics which are familiar to every individual. Thus, the writer provides the desperate situation of the call center worker. Zeynep Tufekci touches such important sphere of human life as work, thereby encouraging all the readers to contemplate the issue. What is more, using such personal pronouns as “our,” “we,” and “us,” the author underlines that the described problem is a common threat.

However, the credibility of the article is lessened by the lack of scientific and statistic data. The author does not present the findings of any scientific research or scholarly entries. On the contrary, Mr. Tufekci outlines some general assumptions and knowledge, without naming some specific sources. The writer could strengthen the credibility of his work by, for example, providing more details about the book of the social scientist Shoshana Zuboff In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power and appealing to her interviews with the workers who are affected by the process of automation (Zuboff). Furthermore, the author could use more statistic data and findings of the scientific research such as, for instance, the book Computerized Manufacturing Automation: Employment, Education, and the Workplace which outlines the spread of technology over all the important spheres of the life (Computerized Manufacturing Automation).

All in all, despite the lack of scientific background, the author has managed to present all the ideas with credibility and reliability. By masterful appeal to logos, ethos, and pathos in the article, the writer outlines the problem of the growing popularity of the machines in the human life and persuades the readers to think about the possible threat and take some actions. Zeynep Tufekci proves that only people can decide whether to allow the computers to capture the modern world or help to improve it.


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