In Babbage’s time, the word “computer” had a meant differently than it does today. The word computer meant someone who worked on mathematical tasks such as mathematical tables and astronomical table for a living. But after the Difference Engine was invented, such mathematical tasks faced mechanization, so todays “computer” is a humanoid of the (human) computer. In my opinion, what Babbage worked on revolutionizing has made the world what it is today.
The focus on Schaffer’s article is to picture the concern with ‘machine philosophy’ and portray the ordered perfection of that philosophy’s ideological potential. Clearly Babbage’s Difference Engine was an ambitious attempt to recognize the workings of the intelligence and to reduce it to a sequence of routine which would make the process faster and reliable. Babbage later follows this example with another ambitious Analytical Engine which according to Schaffer was “The crucial aspects of the new Analytical Engine, its capacity for memory and anticipation, were profound resources for Babbage’s metaphysics and his political economy”. Schaffer argues for the clear connection between Babbage’s work on the Difference Engine and his political economy by depicting the second meaning of intelligence (knowledge gained through surveillance of the labor market and factory) to mobilize the system to their best advantage making its workings appear to have intelligence. Schaffer further argues that Babbage’s conceptions of political economy shaped, and ultimately dismayed, his work on the Difference Engine. As stated by Schaffer, “The rights of the workers to the whole value of their labor informed much of the radical protest of these key years. Who should ‘own’ these machines? Whose labor did they embody?”. Working on the project saw many complications for Babbage, workers were able to demand high wages and Babbage and Joseph Clement (1779-1844) clashed frequently which ultimately resulted in Clement leaving the project. Clement leaving was a fatal blow to the project. Schaffer does, however, make a captivating case for a unity in Babbage’s thought, which is grounded in Babbage’s belief in knowing the world by decomposing it into constituent components, and his belief that the world is best regulated by elites capable of arranging those constituents into newly productive orders. As salient works of “natural theology,” the Bridgewater Treatises looked to delineate for comprehensive, taught educated groups of people how the presence and nature of God could be perceived in the physical universe.
Schaffer states that, Babbage’s “machine philosophy was here assailed from a perspective in complete contrast to that of the radical artisans”. Babbage had done nothing less than visualize God in his own image. For Schaffer, Babbage’s vision of the universe and its maker was significant of the larger, close associations between logical information and society that had come to portray the beginning of the cutting-edge disposition: “The systematic gaze was designed to produce the rational order it purported to discover”. Hence to conclude, Babbage believed that intelligence lies in the mind and not in the body; in the minds of innovative people and manufacturers and great efficiency can be achieved in a system of an intelligent inventor and skilled workers who execute it.