Sherry Turkle

Sherry
Turkle
1948

American Educator and Cultural Analyst, Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Author Quotes

Teenagers talk about the idea of having each other's 'full attention.' They grew up in a culture of distraction. They remember their parents were on cell phones when they were pushed on swings as toddlers. Now, their parents text at the dinner table and don't look up from their BlackBerry when they come for end-of-school day pickup.

Human relationships are rich and they're messy and they're demanding. And we clean them up with technology. Texting, email, posting, all of these things let us present the self as we want to be. We get to edit, and that means we get to delete, and that means we get to retouch, the face, the voice, the flesh, the body -- not too little, not too much, just right.

It used to be that people had a way of dealing with the world that was basically, 'I have a feeling, I want to make a call.' Now I would capture a way of dealing with the world, which is: 'I want to have a feeling, I need to send a text.'

Teenagers would rather text than talk. They feel calls would reveal too much.

I believe that in our culture of simulation, the notion of authenticity is for us what sex was for the Victorians?threat and obsession, taboo and fascination. I have lived with this idea for many years; yet, at the museum, I found the children?s position strangely unsettling. For them, in this context, aliveness seemed to have no intrinsic value. Rather, it is useful only if needed for a specific purpose. Darwin?s endless forms so beautiful were no longer sufficient unto themselves.

It used to be that we imagined that our mobile phones would be for us to talk to each other. Now, our mobile phones are there to talk to us.

Texting offers just the right amount of access, just the right amount of control. She is a modern Goldilocks: for her, texting puts people not too close, not too far, but at just the right distance. The world is now full of modern Goldilockses, people who take comfort in being in touch with a lot of people whom they also keep at bay.

I love sharing photographs and websites, I'm for all of these things. I'm for Facebook. But to say that this is sociability? We begin to define things in terms of what technology enables and technology allows.

Now, relational artifacts pose these questions directly.

The elderly are the first to have companionate robots aggressively marketed to them, but young people also see the merits of robotic companionship. These days, teenagers have sexual adulthood thrust upon them before they are ready to deal with the complexities of relationships. They are drawn to the comfort of connection without the demands of intimacy. This may lead them to a hookup? sex without commitment or even caring. Or it may lead to an online romance? companionship that can always be interrupted. Not surprisingly, teenagers are drawn to love stories in which full intimacy cannot occur?here I think of current passions for films and novels about high school vampires who cannot sexually consummate relationships for fear of hurting those they love. And teenagers are drawn to the idea of technological communion. They talk easily of robots that would be safe and predictable companions.

I think computers are the ultimate writing tool. I'm a very slow writer, so I appreciate it every day.

Our new media are well suited for accomplishing the rudimentary. And because this is what technology serves up, we reduce our expectations of each other.

The feeling that ?no one is listening to me? make us want to spend time with machines that seem to care about us.

I think few people of education enter politics because it seems like a contact blood sport.

Our world has more ?technology? in it than ever before and it is taking up more and more hours of our day.

The first thing missing if you take a robot as a companion is alterity, the ability to see the world through the eyes of another.5 Without alterity, there can be no empathy.

I think that we live in techno-enthusiastic times. We celebrate our technologies because people are frightened by the world we've made.

People are lonely. The network is seductive. But if we are always on, we may deny ourselves the rewards of solitude.

The idea of sociable robots suggests that we might navigate intimacy by skirting it. People seem comforted by the belief that if we alienate or fail each other, robots will be there, programmed to provide simulations of love. Our population is aging; there will be robots to take care of us. Our children are neglected; robots will tend to them. We are too exhausted to deal with each other in adversity; robots will have the energy. Robots won?t be judgmental. We will be accommodated. An older woman says of her robot dog, ?It is better than a real dog. . . . It won?t do dangerous things, and it won?t betray you. . . . Also, it won?t die suddenly and abandon you and make you very sad.?

If AIBO is in some sense a toy, it is a toy that changes minds. It does this in several ways. It heightens our sense of being close to developing a post-biological life and not just in theory or in the laboratory. And it suggests how this passage will take place. It will begin with our seeing the new life as as if life and then deciding that as if may be life enough. Even now, as we contemplate creatures with artificial feelings and intelligence, we come to reflect differently on our own. The question here is not whether machines can be made to think like people but whether people have always thought like machines.

People are surprised by how upset they get in this theater of distress. And then they get upset that they are upset. They often try to reassure themselves, saying things like, Chill, chill, it?s only a toy! They are experiencing something new: you can feel bad about yourself for how you behave with a computer program. Adults come to the upside-down test knowing two things: the Furby is a machine and they are not torturers. By the end, with a whimpering Furby in tow, they are on new ethical terrain.

The most used program in computers and education is PowerPoint. What are you learning about the nature of the medium by knowing how do to a great PowerPoint presentation? Nothing. It certainly doesn't teach you how to think critically about living in a culture of simulation.

If behind popular fascination with Freudian theory there was a nervous, often guilty preoccupation with the self as sexual, behind increasing interest in computational interpretations of mind is an equally nervous preoccupation with the self as machine.

People thought I was very pro-computer. I was on the cover of 'Wired' magazine. Then things began to change. In the early '80s, we met this technology and became smitten like young lovers. But today our attachment is unhealthy.

The My Real Babies frightened her,

Author Picture
First Name
Sherry
Last Name
Turkle
Birth Date
1948
Bio

American Educator and Cultural Analyst, Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology