Once a cheerleader of the Internet revolution, Sherry Turkle, the Director of MIT’s Initiative on Technology and Self, has become deeply pessimistic about our digital future. In her controversial new book, Alone Together, Turkle argues that the development of emotionally sympathetic robots like Tamagotchis and Furbies means that the “robotic moment” has arrived for the human race.
“We are toast,” Turkle told me when she came into the TechCrunch San Francisco studio earlier this month.
It’s no laughing matter. Alone Together is the result of hundreds of interviews that Turkle has carried out over the last 15 years with a broad cross section of children, adults and old people. What Turkle finds is that, out of a sense of disappointment with each other, we’ve turned to robots as a substitute for human interaction. What Turkle meticulously charts in Alone Together are robots used by lonely, isolated human beings as lovers, best friends and caregivers.
So has the robotic moment really arrived? When was the last time you fondled your Roxxxy?
Tomorrow, we’ll have more of the interview including Turkle’s dark warning about social media.
The robotic movement
We are toast
Can we love robots?
Sherry Turkle is Abby Rockefeller MauzÃ© Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT and the founder (2001) and current director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Professor Turkle received a joint doctorate in sociology and personality psychology from Harvard University and is a licensed clinical psychologist. Professor Turkle is the author of Psychoanalytic Politics: Jacques Lacan and Freud’s French Revolution (Basic Books, 1978; MIT Press paper,...