Link to Original Article This review is from: Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (Hardcover)
I have not had the honor of meeting Dr. Turkle personally, but as I was researching my own book I found her to be one of the most important and sensible scholars in the human and technology space. Although she focuses on robots, the relevance of her work extends to all interactions with digital media. Currently, our use of the online computer and smartphone has similar features. This book is a must read.
Interactive technology is tethering almost everyone to everyone else and to its own amorphous self (!) with a chaotic, yet strangely compelling buzz. And we respond without fully knowing or much thinking. And we think we are in charge. But the robots are already shaping us. Really — even at MIT. And actually, we humans mostly like them.
Dr. Turkle, a full professor at MIT, has been skillfully watching this fascinating development unfold for well over a decade with the discerning eye of a scientist, the lenses of a brilliant disciplined mind, the heart of a down-to-earth, decent, caring mother, and the compassion of a humane healer. Dr. Turkle is a first rate thinker, veteran researcher, and keen observer of the evolving human-machine interface that is so much part of our lives. Her work continues to illuminate the darker recesses of the space formed at the intersection of interactive technology, neuroscience, morality, and human development.
Now, as a captivating writer, she again provides superbly stimulating food for thought about the social / psychological dimensions of where our chaotic technology consumption may be taking us. Dr. Turkle shares her lifetime’s worth of observations, discoveries, and theories with us.
From what Dr. Turkle describes so skillfully, it can be scary — we are now at the ‘robot moment.’ Clearly, this is a malignant process that has emerged quietly and is sneaking up on us.
Or is it? Anyway, what to do?
We will react strongly to Dr. Turkle’s findings, as we should. Technology is here to stay with complex evocative psychological and philosophical challenges to some important views we have of ourselves.
But let us not forget the basics: Human needs for broadband human relationships(across all the senses — face to face, skin to skin) have not changed. Machines may perform but do not have intent nor consciousness, nor would they feel, no matter how much we project and anthropomorphize. Exactly what difference that makes remains to be seen.
But in the meantime, as they always have and always will, kids need family relationships, values, education, and our full presence to develop into healthy creatures with good brains. We should and can manage technology accordingly.
So, IMHO, no device belongs at a human home unless it enhances human family life and child development. Think about your family’s technology devices as appliances and plan consumption as you do meals and hygene. Parents can become empowered and educated and use new tools to manage the digital lives of children, using the framework of what we know about development and neuroscience So, please, do not rush to put robots in kids’ cribs or playpens.
Also, in the mean time, let us support the scientists discovering new knowledge in this field. We are at the threshold of encountering great new tools, so let us learn about how they affect us and utilize them to enhance the best about us, especially in our homes where we raise our kids.
-Dr. Schwarz is author of ASIN:0557194822 Kids, Parents & Technology: A Guide for Young Families.