News article from 80 years ago warns of the impending robot ageS

Anxiety over the mechanization of labor isn't a new phenomenon. In 1931, Modern Mechanics asked, "Is man doomed by the machine age?" Learn about the dangers of "robot music" and how miniature golf is a catalyst for economic progress.

Perhaps my favorite segment from this retrofuturistically fascinating article is the part where theater musicians rail against "robot music":

Joseph N. Weber, president of the American Federation of Musicians, is the leader of a campaign in which more than $500,000 was spent last year to stem the advance of "Robot Music". Magazine advertisements reaching thousands of people appealed to the public to oppose itself to the advance of mechanical music in the theatres. But the musical robots came marching down until today there is hardly a theatre in the country which is not equipped for sound effects for talkies.

Behind this campaign lies the distress of thousands of musicians put out of work by the talkies.

"The time is coming fast," said Mr. Weber, "when the only living thing around a motion picture house will be the person who sells you your ticket. Everything else will be mechanical. Canned drama, canned music, canned vaudeville. We think the public will tire of mechanical music and will want the real thing. We are not against scientific development of any kind, but it must not come at the expense of art. We are not opposing industrial progress. We are not even opposing mechanical music except where it is used as a profiteering instrument for artistic debasement."

Hey past, I've got some canned robot vaudeville for you right here! Hey-yo! Also, this piece contains the most intoxicatingly mundane headline I've seen lately: "Midget golf is an invention which created thousands of new jobs."

[VIa Modern Mechanix]

News article from 80 years ago warns of the impending robot ageS

News article from 80 years ago warns of the impending robot ageS

News article from 80 years ago warns of the impending robot ageS

News article from 80 years ago warns of the impending robot ageS

News article from 80 years ago warns of the impending robot ageS

News article from 80 years ago warns of the impending robot ageS