I argue here that the development of machines that provide for us what we could previously provide for ourselves may sometimes be a dubious blessing. For the value of many goods is not independent of the way in which they are produced and in particular of the human contribution to their production. With a large range of goods it may matter to us both that people rather than machines contribute to their production and that we ourselves make some such contribution. We have a need to be constructively engaged in the service of our own and one another’s ends. We also have an interest both in the extent to which the society in which we live includes all its members in such engagement and the extent to which the goods we enjoy are the fruits of such inclusive human endeavour. A significant and shared human contribution to the meeting of our needs is itself one of our deepest needs. These thoughts are developed primarily with reference to the values found in art, conversation and work.