The degree to which machines cause abasement. – Machines are impersonal, they extract the pride from a piece of work, its individual excellence and defectiveness, elements that stick to every nonmechanical sort of work – hence, its tiny bit of humanity. In earlier times, all buying from craftspeople meant distinguishing the persons with whose insignia people surrounded themselves: household goods and clothing thus became the symbolic system of reciprocal valuation and personal connection, whereas now we seem to live only amid an anonymous and impersonal slavery. – We must not pay too dearly for the alleviation of labor.
Friedrich Nitzsche. Human, All Too Human II (§ 288).
What is modern technology? It too is a revealing. […] And yet the revealing that holds sway throughout modern technology does not unfold into a bringing-forth in the sense of poiesis. The revealing that rules in modern technology is a challenging, which puts to nature the unreasonable demand that it supply energy that can be extracted and stored as such. […] A tract of land is challenged into the putting out of coal and ore. The earth now reveals itself as a coal mining district, the soil as a mineral deposit. The field that the peasant formerly cultivated and set in order appears differently than it did when to set in order still meant to take care of and to maintain. The work of the peasant does not challenge the soil of the field. In the sowing of the grain it places the seed in the keeping of the forces of growth and watches over its increase. But meanwhile even the cultivation of the field has come under the grip of another kind of setting-in-order, which sets upon nature. It sets upon it in the sense of challenging it. Agriculture is now the mechanized food industry. Air is now set upon to yield nitrogen, the earth to yield ore, ore to yield uranium, for example; uranium is set upon to yield atomic energy, which can be released either for destruction or for peaceful use. […] The coming to presence of [modern] technology threatens revealing, threatens it with the possibility that all revealing will be consumed in ordering and that everything will present itself only in the unconcealedness of standing-reserve.
Martin Heidegger. The Question Concerning Technology.
Now goblins are cruel, wicked, and bad-hearted. They make no beautiful things, but they make many clever ones. They can tunnel and mine as well as any but the most skilled dwarves, when they take the trouble, though they are usually untidy and dirty. Hammers, axes, swords, daggers, pickaxes, tongs, and also instruments of torture, they make very well, or get other people to make to their design, prisoners and slaves that have to work till they die for want of air and light. It is not unlikely that they invented some of the machines that have since troubled the world, especially the ingenious devices for killing large numbers of people at once, for wheels and engines and explosions always delighted them, and also not working with their own hands more than they could help […].
J.R.R. Tolkien. The Hobbit (Chapter 4).