Brian Merchant has served as technology columnist for the Los Angeles Times and is the author of the new book Blood in the Machine: The Origins of the Rebellion Against Big Tech. Brian’s book takes us back to early 19th century England, and the birth of the “Luddite” movement. The Luddites famously smashed new machines that were expected to take away jobs in the textile industry. Brian argues that the Luddites are often misunderstood and misrepresented and that by examining their uprising, we can better prepare ourselves to deal with the socially disruptive effects of new technology in our own time.
The Luddites, Brian shows, weren’t anti-technology. In fact, they embraced new machines that helped them do their jobs better. They were against machines that destroyed workers’ livelihoods and rendered their skills useless. The Luddites rejected technology when it was used to enrich capitalists at the expense of laborers. Their dispute is best understood not as being over “technology” but about who gets the benefit of new technologies and who decides what kinds of technologies will be implemented. Today, Brian joins us to clear up misconceptions about the Luddites and show us what we can learn from them.
Nathan J. Robinson
Your book is very much about the present and also about the past. It is a history of the Luddite movement, which people may think they know, but they don’t necessarily know. But also, your book title says it’s about the origins of the struggle against big tech, so it is in many ways about issues that we face today. You write,
“The history of the Luddites, the real ones, not the pejorative figment of the entrepreneurial imagination, gives us a framework to evaluate the utility of technologies and their social impacts.”
We’re going to get to that framework. But first, let’s have you take us back in time to the moment the Luddite movement emerges. It emerges in a very particular moment. Could you tell us about that moment and what’s going on?
1811 is the year that the Luddites finally took up their hammers. But before we get there, we should briefly talk about the last 100 years or so because this is the early days of the Industrial Revolution, in which historians like to talk about the machinery being developed that’s the kindling for it, things like the spinning jenny and the water frame that are going to automate or make much more efficient the production of yarn. And then there were machines like the wide frame, the gig mill, or the shearing frame, implements that are essentially doing what today we call automation—called mechanization back in the day—and reducing the amount of labor needed to do a job.
The other important thing to know is that at this time, cloth workers are the largest sort of industrial base of workers. They’re the largest class of workers in England, apart from agrarian workers. It’s not a perfect life and can be a little bit precarious, but by and large, it’s a pretty nice setup in many ways. A lot of these folks are working from home or in small shops, have a lot of control over their day, and running a machine in their cottage—the term “cottage industry” comes from this.
But as these new machines become available, and as the ideology of a certain Scottish economist, Adam Smith, starts to gain traction with a large number of the elites, they begin to focus on things like dividing labor, and combined with the machinery, you start to get factorization and this will to embark on mass production. So, you have these trends converging: more machinery and more interest in organizing labor in a way that begins to resemble the factory.
And then, as that machinery starts to be accumulated and organized by early entrepreneurs or industrialists, they start to take profit share and money away from the workers who have been doing this work in a specific way for literally hundreds of years in some contexts. So, they are exacerbating inequality. The workers are aware this is happening and see that the machinery is the implement and the vessel being used by the industrialists for this change. They try to go to Parliament and the industrialists to ask for some protections and support—a minimum wage or tax the machines maybe—and they get rebuffed completely.
And then by the end of the first decade of the 1800s, Parliament said enough with it, we’re siding with the entrepreneurial class, and we’re going to throw out all the regulations and rules that used to govern this trade for so long that entrepreneurs have been running roughshod over. Imagine Lyft or Uber back then, that’s about what they were doing, just kind of pretending that they were not participating in the trade in the same way and therefore use technology as an excuse to go around the rules.
Finally, the workers have had enough. 1811 was also a hard time—there were trade sanctions and a bad crop failure. So, there’s economic depression, automation and fear of factorization. Workers are seeing their identities and working lives going up in smoke. Their backs are against the wall, basically, and they resort to this tactic of last resort, and become Luddites.
At the beginning of your book, there’s a cast of characters with the people, and then you have a separate cast of characters, essentially, with the machinery, with pictures of all these extraordinary machines, and it makes you try and think about what it must have been like to lay eyes on these things for the first time. As you mentioned, change has happened very slowly—you’re writing about Britain, and they’ve been doing the same thing for hundreds of years and not much had changed, and all of a sudden, these devilish contraptions threatened to destroy so much, and nobody knows what’s going to happen. What kind of interesting records do we have of these things being introduced and what people’s first reactions to them were?
Yes, it’s interesting. The common sort of way that Luddites get painted is that they’re anti-technology. They’re not, of course. They knew the technology pretty well and were technologists themselves, basically. They had command over the weaving machinery or the stocking making machinery of the day. So, they knew pretty well when these innovators, as we might call them today, or entrepreneurs were making tweaks to make them more efficient or trying to speed certain parts up.
So, I don’t think they would react viscerally to sort of the aesthetics of the machinery, but to the purpose that they knew to which it would be put. There’s a part early on when Edmund Cartwright, who’s the inventor of the power loom, seeks to automate the process of weaving, which was a bit more complex than what some of the other machines were doing. He sent it out to some weavers and said, I want some notes on this—can you show me you know what I’m doing wrong here?
And they wouldn’t touch it. They said, no, we know what this is and what you’re trying to do here, you’re trying to automate our work, and we don’t want any part of it. When James Hargreaves unveiled his spinning jenny, even before Luddites were around to popularize this tactic, people smashed his machines and chased them out of town.
So, there was this sort of revulsion or reaction to the idea that you would use machinery to automate somebody else’s job and “take their bread”—that’s what they would always say in the letters and their entreaties. They would say, we don’t want you to take our bread, we are honest working men. To automate that work for the profit of another person was to them just as morally unjustifiable as stealing—it was thievery.
I would also add that they had a revulsion and reacted quite strongly to the factory. When buildings started being erected that were six stories high to better organize the division of labor, they also knew what that entailed. The first factories housed child laborers, and they were basically these workshops of horror, where people were being ground up, losing limbs, and being overworked. And so, to face that future, they saw that the most looming indignity of all, perhaps, was—to use another quote—to “stand at their command.” They hated this idea that there would be this boss and that they had to answer to an overseer.
There is some language on record to how they describe the machines. They called them “the obnoxious machines” and they have some language like that, but not a lot survives outside the threatening letters that they would send to the entrepreneurs. Because as we may talk about, it soon became a crime punishable by death to be a Luddite, to smash a machine, so they kept their paper trail pretty thin.
I quoted you at the beginning talking about the term as it is used today, with the connotation of being anti-technology. Obviously, if you think of an archetypal Luddite, it might be Ted Kaczynski in his cabin, wanting to destroy industrial civilization. But as you go back to the struggle, it’s almost not even about the machines—or it is about the machines, but more about the uses to which the machines are being put. It’s about the bread, really, far more than it’s about the technology. And there are a number of points at which you have quotes from historians and from primary sources that indicate what their objection was. You write, “If a workman disliked a machine, it was because of the use to which they were being put, not because they were machines or because they were new.”
That’s exactly right. Again, the Luddites had another great phrase, they were against the machinery “hurtful to commonality.” They were not against the workings of the machine or against somebody building new machinery that could do something more efficiently. But again, it’s in the social context to which this is being deposited. They are some of the first true industrial capitalists using machinery for this express purpose, and that is to do their work more cheaply and for the sake of generating more profits.
Also, it’s important to underline that just like today, they’re not automating the work completely; they’re not making it so a machine can just do this work and no human is in the process. They’re using the machinery as an instrument to transfer the worker from one set of conditions to another, to break labor power to as leverage over the worker, or to employ more vulnerable workers they can pay less, like children. Economists today would call it “deskilling”, which is basically what they were seeking to do. So, it would be entirely different from the context of, in the community, somebody said, we’ve got this machinery, so why don’t we all get together and figure out how we can benefit from it together? This could make all of our lives better if we can figure out a way to more equitably produce more cloth, and then maybe we can all share the benefits. But that’s not what was happening.
Then, like now, there’s only a small subset of people who had access to the kind of capital investment, space, and political influence you would need to organize a big factory or something like that. And once that’s up and running, everybody else has to compete with that on price, so on and so forth. Like you said, it’s all about the context in which the machinery is being developed. The Luddites were not anti-technology, they were anti-poverty.
Yes. You have this one point in your book that I remember where you cite an example of a machine favored by workers and disfavored by employers, which was something like a machine that would have counted the threads of a piece of cloth to determine its quality so that the workers could prove they were making things of excellent quality. The employers didn’t like it. It was not a machine that served the interests of the employer because they didn’t give a shit about quality.
Surprise! They didn’t want anything that was going to force them to pay workers any more than they had to. Not interested in that machinery, no—it’s only when it can be used as a way to reduce wages and save labor cost.
I just want to drive this point home: it really is not a debate about technology, and Luddism isn’t an inherent position on the abstract notion of “technology” or machinery; it is a position on a certain kind of inhuman use in production of new uses of machinery and technology to do particular things in ways that are disruptive to society and hurt people.
That’s right. Luddism is about questioning who machinery serves. It’s really a question of political economy, of being able to locate exploitative or abusive uses of technology, and in which cases machinery becomes hurtful to commonality. So, as a framework, I think it’s one that we can certainly apply today, which is why I found it so interesting.
If we just pull back into the present for a moment, we can think about how criticisms of Uber are not criticisms of the concept of a rideshare app, but of the way in which this particular rideshare app is introduced and how it exploits drivers.
We have numerous artists who contribute to Current Affairs who hate AI’s uses in art. Sometimes there are criticisms of aesthetics—this is soulless and horrible—but most of the criticisms are, as you say, about political economy. They know what this technology will be used for. Instead of a corporate client hiring an artist, they’ll just have the machine do the work, and they know that it’s going to devalue art. What it consists of is hoovering up all the art, looking at it, and having the machine make an inferior thing to save money. And their criticism is, again, not so much of the concept of having image generators, which could be kind of interesting on their own, but the social uses to which the technology is put.
Yes. The politics are sort of built into the technology from the get go, at least as a technological product. Those are both great examples because we can easily imagine a ridesharing app that is run by a collective of workers who own the platform themselves—maybe some of the earnings are used to hire a web developer and to pay for the server fees. We could very easily imagine this, and we can imagine it because some of them exist, with varying degrees of success. Again, it’s hard to compete with something like Uber that has billions of dollars in venture capital money to go out and gain market share and do all that. But, again, it’s the way that the company is constituted, the way that it offers its service. There’s nothing about the technology that says Uber has to take over 50 percent of every ride and send it upstream to the executive, to the C-suite.
There’s nothing that says that the information about the ride can’t be transparent, so the driver can make an informed decision about whether they should take a ride. You can easily imagine a platform that has been developed in such a way that it is equitable and serves workers and doesn’t gouge them and the consumers. Likewise, you could imagine a generative AI that was done much more carefully, where people might be happy to submit some of their art if they consented and were being compensated, or they knew the use to which it was being put, and there was a social contract that governed this stuff.
That’s what it keeps coming down to and always has since the Luddites’ time: the people who are building these technologies and are seeking to profit from them are perfectly happy to tear up the social contract in each of these cases, whatever it is, to develop technology in a way that’s not in any way democratic or giving workers input over a process that’s going to change or disrupt their lives. In the Luddites’ time they rolled into town with their automated machineries, and a lot of time they weren’t from the community and didn’t understand it. They just set up a factory near a river because they wanted to use the water power or outside of town because there was a labor pool, and they just started building machinery. They didn’t ask what the impact of all of this would be. They didn’t consult the workers and ask, would you like to collaborate on this? What can we do better? No, they clearly just wanted to take the market share away from the workers and to do it in service of profiting the factory owner. And in the process, they ruined many communities, and that’s what the Luddites were fighting against.
And that’s why, today, we’re again seeing so much upheaval and resistance to AI into the gig work apps. That’s why the writers were out on the picket lines fighting AI, and it’s good to see this resurgence of resistance. It is for very much the same reasons because technology keeps being used in the same way.
And so, when we look back at the Luddites with the kind of sympathetic lens that you view them through in this book, we see people who are really acting quite rationally in the dire circumstances they find themselves in. They find themselves in a moment where they can see that something is about to be imposed on their communities, and there’s nothing they can do about it. There’s no legislation coming, there’s nobody coming to save them. In the free market system, these manufacturers are free to do this. The machines work and do what they are intended to do, which is to eliminate labor costs. All of these people see their whole lives, probably many of whom are young, stretching out in front of them, and they don’t know what they’re going to do because their skill has just been devalued to nothing, and nobody cares. And so, then comes machine breakers. “Let’s smash the machines.” Tell us what the Luddites organized to do.
We kind of worked right up to it before. So, this tactic of last resort, Luddism, it’s quite literally named after this mythical figure, Ned Ludd, who they made a legend about. It’s probably apocryphal, but Ned Ludd was supposed to be this apprentice weaver who was told he wasn’t being productive enough and his master had him whipped, which, quite reasonably so, made him angry, and he smashed the machine that he was working on with a hammer and fled into Sherwood Forest. And there are a lot of parallels there with Robin Hood—it’s the same forest as Robin Hood, and Ned Ludd and Robin Hood sound similar. This is from the same kind of culture of discontent and dissidents.
So, the Luddites organize this campaign, and their tactic is to identify the factory owners who are unleashing the most exploitation, and they calculate how many machines each factory owner has, how many jobs they’ve automated, and how many people they’ve stolen bread from, so to speak. And they would write this letter, saying, we know you have 200 of the obnoxious machines, and if you don’t take them down by next Sunday, you’ll get a visit from Ned Ludd’s army. And it would be signed General Ludd or Ned Ludd or King Ludd.
So, if the factory owner wanted to comply, which they often did, they said, okay, we don’t want the trouble, we’ll just take them down and be done with it; we’ll restore prices to the wages that we were paying before we started using this machinery. A lot of them waved the white flag. But if not, then the Luddites would either sneak in through a window under the cover of night, or they’d hold up the overseer at gunpoint, and they’d go into the factory, and they would take Enoch’s Hammer, named after the blacksmith who made it, and they would smash all the automated machinery. They’d leave all the other machines that were not disruptive to the community and to the way of life as it had been governed for many years. And they would leave with a warning, that if you bring back the old obnoxious machines, we’ll come back and do the whole place.
But, by and large, they would slip out and sort of leave it at that. And this tactic proved so successful that it soon spread across England, even beyond where they clearly didn’t have a central network that was communicating to other places. It had like a meme-like quality, where people were taking the tactic and the name Ned Ludd, and putting it into action in different places. As a result, it really did inspire this huge folk movement, and they were hailed as heroes by the working class. They were cheered in the streets as they got bolder, and by day people would be out there egging them on. Sometimes the officials who were supposed to intervene would just kind of let them do it because they saw it as morally justified.
And so, for a long time, for many months, it was a pretty exciting and invigorating movement that was seen as this long-overdue movement to reclaim a lot of what had been taken from the working people. It had a lot of solidarity from people whose jobs were not threatened by machinery, or sometimes were, in fact, strengthened because of industrialization. Coal workers, steelworkers, hatmakers, and shoemakers would join them because they understood this as a strike against exploitation, inequality, and injustice, and that perplexed the authorities at the time. Why are the hatmakers out there with them? We don’t understand. They didn’t understand that this was a real grassroots working-class movement.
In fact, it was a formative one at the time because you were not allowed not organize. “Combining” was against the law, banned by the Combination Acts. And there was no democracy, of course, and that’s also one of the reasons that their backs were to the wall. You couldn’t petition your local representative for change and vote them out if you didn’t like them. But yes, it was this thunderous popular thing. And the state could have responded by saying they see how angry and desperate a lot of these people are, with many actually on the brink of starvation. It’s desperate times. There’s been a crop failure, and those trade sanctions that I talked about have led to plenty of people in really dire straits, and the state is just ignoring them in favor of letting entrepreneurs and industrialists do as they please.
So instead of trying to ameliorate the situation, of course, they start to mount a campaign to put it down by force. This resulted in the largest domestic occupation in England’s history, with tens of thousands of soldiers fighting the Luddites. That law I mentioned earlier made it a crime to break a machine, punishable by death. It’s a campaign of force.
Very harsh backlash to impose these things. The extraordinary thing is that when you look at the timeline here, it’s a short period of time, actually. It’s a couple of years, really, for this movement to take off and then be suppressed and destroyed.
That’s a really important point, especially when people argue that the Luddites were backwards and dummies, as people are still wont to do: that one of the arrows in their quiver is that the technology won out after all. This was not a matter of a natural transition or progression where people just sort of stumbled upon the wonderful benefits of technology. No, this was a decision made by force, by a state that was willing to unleash brutality on working people in order to side with the engines of industry. They sent the troops and changed the penal code to be extremely severe. They empowered the factory owners to hire militia men and to defend their factories with force and to gun down the Luddites as they attacked them.
So, it was actually quite a concerted effort that took a lot of blood to enforce. It’s not just that the market decided technology was better. It’s the state that decided that it would be used in this way, and that the capitalist formation would be favored and would be, in fact, promoted by the state.
This is just after the first decade of the 19th century, from 1811-1813. And then we know how the story goes after that because you could read it in Engels’s reports on the working class in Manchester, with Engels being so horrified by the factory system in England, which becomes far more brutal. It becomes just totally vicious by the mid- to late-19th century.
Yes. The Luddites were right. They feared this scale of oppression, and that’s what they were fighting against. They saw it coming. And it did. It unfolded exactly as they feared, where people were forced to work in these horrendous conditions in these factories, worse than anything we can imagine now, although we’re starting to devolve back towards that state in many ways. I used to think when I was researching this, “well, at least we’re not using child labor.” Well, actually, Sarah Huckabee would like a word. It is very real, and what I always come back to is, it did not have to be that way. The Luddites, again, were not anti-technology. They were anti getting trampled on and anti having no say in the way that this industrial development would take place. And when they lost that battle, this was the cost. It was decades and decades of mass immiseration.
I want to get to the lessons for our own time, which are presumably a critical part of why you decided to put so much work in putting together the history of the Luddites. It’s powerfully relevant for our moment. One of those lessons is the way we should think about technology, and you conclude your book with this idea that “robots are coming for our jobs” and why we shouldn’t think this way. There isn’t this kind of technology, this organism, this thing that’s on the move and making its inevitable movements towards us. That’s not the way to think. And by looking back at the Luddites, we can see why that’s not the way to think about technology.
Yes. Just about every point that we’ve made thus far supports the thesis that there’s no such thing as technological determinism. Silicon Valley is so swept up in this sort of formulation, that all technology is progress, but no. Technology is a series of choices made by people who develop it, and those technologies and people have politics. If we so choose, we have the ability to shape or to decide what goes into that process.
I’m not saying it’s always easy. Sometimes there are immense barriers put up between us and these technologies being developed, and that’s also a calculation that has long been made where Google and Apple and Amazon would rather control how the technology is created and how it’s used. But it is not true that it is immutable, that all technology is progress, and that we cannot ask for more say over these systems. We’re beginning to see more and more of that, and it’s been really encouraging to see this breakdown in the equation of all technology to progress.
But yes, I think the quote I put in the book is, a robot is not coming for your job, management is. They’re making this decision to try to replace you. It’s not any force of nature. They think they can make a little bit of money by replacing some of your tasks with a robotic software automation or a piece of mechanized equipment on the factory line, but it’s a decision, and we can contest those decisions, and more and more people are.
You pointed out recently online that, in fact, the latest shake up at OpenAI “makes clear that big tech will in a heartbeat crush any concrete measure intended to enhance AI safety if it poses a threat to its ability to profit.” There appeared to be a clash at that company about ChatGPT between those who are saying we need to slow down this technology and think carefully about the social implications, whether you accept the existential risk fears of AI or not, and there are those who say, look at this amazing product, we can make so much money, and we don’t need to think about any of the broader social implications. As these things are developed by profit-seeking corporations, there’s a very strong incentive not to give a shit whether they hurt a lot of people.
Yes, that’s right. This is such an interesting case to me because like all the real world social issues that we’ve been talking about, like people trying to use AI to put other people out of work, it’s going to cause some disruption and perhaps suffering. We know that AI systems are biased and can be used by police or authorities to ID perpetrators, and they’re often wrong. So, it leads to all of these problems, and there are a lot of very real issues with the use of AI. But what Silicon Valley has allowed to be the permissible and respectable debate about the merits of AI is this question of, will it become sentient like Skynet and eventually destroy all of humanity? You’re allowed to have that as a genuine concern.
But what’s interesting about what happened with OpenAI is that I think where the money is, is that they don’t really care, and they never really cared. They let the rank and file software developers and the people working at the tech companies talk about this as a problem because it kind of benefits them. If you’re talking about AI as being so powerful and can wipe out humanity, then it’s certainly powerful enough to write your marketing software, do your email marketing management, or whatever they’re selling it in the trenches to do. It’s a useful marketing strategy to have this going on. But now it turns out that, actually, there are people on the board of OpenAI who were taking all this very seriously. Sam Altman, who’s the de facto guru for the modern coming of AI, said he wanted to now start making deals with sovereign funds in the Middle East and SoftBank, and it seems like he’s just going all in on the expansion of AI services with this company. We still don’t know all the details, but it sure seems like the board thought that all that was too much. They really thought that their duty was to protect humanity, so they booted him out, and within 48 hours, they’re saying, I’m sorry. Silicon Valley will not tolerate even this sort of science fictional debate over whether it’s an existential risk at all because it just gets sucked up into the maw of the engine of profit, that big tech won’t tolerate any debate that’s going to be any sort of threat to the bottom line.
I detect from what you say that you are somewhat skeptical of the existential threat narrative about AI and think that the other problems are a lot more pressing.
Like I said, I think it’s a useful fiction to move the goalposts. If they can get everybody worried that one day AI is going to rise out of some robotics factory in the form of a robot that will murder everybody, or drop nukes on human civilization, then that’s such a more visceral and much more compelling or exciting threat to try to deal with than asking, what’s actually going to be the impact to the economy and to working people? How is this going to exacerbate biases? It keeps the focus off the real world stuff that we should be thinking about. Should we be allowing facial recognition at all, or is this just a toxic technology? Are we allowing too much surveillance into our lives and feeding it into these automated systems to make judgments about how productive we are?
It’s ignoring all that in favor of the big science fiction argument that has captivated most policymakers and the movers and shakers. So, no, I do not think that this is a threat that we need to be worrying about, that it’s going to become sentient. Like I said, it’s a useful marketing tool and tactic for keeping the conversation away from the ones that we should be having about day-to-day policy issues.
To close here, you profile many of those issues and take us up to the present day with your view of the kind of contemporary heirs of the spirit of the Luddites and encouraged us to look back at the Luddites and see what they were really all about, what they really tried to do, the ways in which they failed, and the ways in which they bequeathed us a legacy of noble struggle. Maybe it’s only a matter of time before the rebel workers of this new machine age see that the injustices of the algorithmic platforms are too much to bear, that the surveillance apparatus and big tech is too intrusive, that the robotic pace of work is ruthlessly body breaking. So, tell us, what does it mean to be a Luddite today?
If I had taken one more year to write the book, then I would have even more salient examples to roll into that—more than I already had, which was a lot. I think a really good and pure example that correlates quite nicely is the WGA strike. We have this group of what we would call skilled workers who were quite familiar with the new software that the studios wanted to use—not to replace their job outright, but to maybe generate a script that then they would ask the writers to rewrite for a reduced fee, and not get the residuals or not get the full range of benefits, and it’s a way to break worker power. The WGA recognized this, and they drew a red line. They did, perhaps, what you could call modern Luddism, and they rejected this idea that the studios could use AI to create a script at all—that was off the table as far as they were concerned. They fought it tooth and nail, and they won. Historically, Hollywood writers aren’t the most relatable labor groups in the U.S., but support for their strike was off the charts because AI was front and center.
I think many people have anxieties about automation and AI, and seeing them fighting it, saying no, was a spark. It led the SAG-AFTRA, the Screen Actors Guild, to take a similar stance. And it’s snowballing, I think. And so, modern Luddites recognize when a boss or an executive is going to use technology explicitly in this way to degrade their working conditions and to take away pay and build power against them, and they’re finding ways to fight back. Fortunately, we don’t have to use hammers yet because we have the ability to organize. We can get creative. I would also mention the Safe Street Rebel folks who are coning self-driving cars in San Francisco that were out and about in the neighborhoods, after some kind of shady maneuverings from the companies. Well, they put a traffic cone on the hood of the car, and it shuts them down.
It is charming, and it works. They would be out there—they call it coning—just dropping the cone and taking a video of it, and it just stops. It confuses the car, and somebody has to go out there and waste time and capital to correct it. It’s a striking scene that went really viral, and it gave the activists an opportunity to talk about why they were resisting self-driving cars. So I think the modern Luddite isn’t against technology carte blanche. They’re against technology being imposed on us anti-democratically and in an exploitative way and asking who it serves and if it’s hurtful to the commons. And then they’re willing to fight back with whatever tools are at their disposal. Sometimes, that’s a hammer.
Transcript edited by Patrick Farnsworth.