Sherry Turkle Connected But Alone Essay

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Alone Together By Sherry Turkle Essay

After reading Sherry Turkle’s book Alone Together, I was left with mixed feelings. Ill thought the book was poorly written, and could have been structured better. The way Turkle structures the book made me bored and uninterested. On the other hand, it enlightened me about the conditions that technology has done throughout society.
I became bored reading certain parts of the book. I feel like the author could have sequenced it better. The author precedes some chapters or sections with a point and reinforces it with interviews from many research participants and interview quotes. I find myself skipping some parts just because I didn’t want to read every person’s reactions to a new robot, there were just too many. For example, in the book Turkle talks about the robot AIBO (53), and interviews research participants. Most of them reinforce her point: Humans have the possibility of developing some sort of emotional attachment to robot companions. She didn’t have to include all of the research participants’ interviews that she did. Although it is bad to include one interview to prove the point, but there comes a point where it becomes too much, which I ended up skipping. I also did not like the research that was done. There should have been more statistical facts instead of just a few research participants’ interviews and stories. I have a hard time believing that a few people who she researched can be a basis for the trend. I would’ve liked to see more evidence.
Although the book has its flaws, I did enlighten me on how technology affects society. I learned a great deal about technology from the book. I learned more about the increasing attachment of people to technology, how technology affects us socially, and most importantly, the emotional impact that technology has on people.

Turkle’s book begins by focusing on how robots affected the lives of people emotionally. This is explained in research analysis of young and elderly people’s reactions to robots such as AIBO and Cog and to even commercial products like My Real Baby, Furby and Tamagachi. As I read, I became more surprised on the complexity of robots. They have become as complex as to feign attributes of that of organic beings. For the robotic pet AIBO, people thought of it as a real dog, with real emotions. The same result with My Real Baby, as the participants took care of them as if they were real. There were also emotional attachments between the Furby and Tamagachi toys that were mentioned in a chapter, with people buying new Tamagachi’s (33) when the virtual ones died, which I find is absurd. Why someone would pay for another Tamagachi toy just because the Tamagachi they had died in their own virtual universe is beyond me.
I believe this kind of emotional technology attachment is neutral, as it impacts our lives positively and negatively. For those who are elderly, robot toys like My Real Baby can be a good way to keep them distracted, as perhaps their siblings cannot see them as...

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"If I have to be alone, it will be on my own terms. I could never talk about it, ever show it, even though the world is watching while I squirm alone." -- Todd Rundgren

It's Good Friday, so let's talk about a non-Autodesk-Labs topic. If you have 19 minutes and 48 seconds of uninterrupted time, you can learn something:

I found this TED talk to be very thought provoking with quotes like:

  • "We're getting used to a new way of being alone together."
  • "You can end up hiding from each other even as we are all connected to each other."
  • "Goldilocks effect: People want relationships in bits they can control: not too close, not too far, just right."
  • "...someday, someday, but certainly not now, I would love to learn how to have a conversation. The problem with a conversation is that it takes place in real time, and you can't control what you're going to say."
  • "We short change ourselves when we sacrifice conversation for mere connection."
  • "We are tempted by machines that offer companionship. Have we so lost confidence that we will be there for each other?"
  • "We expect more from technology and less from each other. We create technology to provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship."

With regard to design projects, infinite computing is great for computationally intensive actions and collaboration, but it is not enough. There's no substitute for conversations between architect and engineer, shop foreman and plant worker, or director and actor. Autodesk looks at technology as a way to speed up analysis and connect people to the latest and most accurate information available. Technology augments the design experience - it is not a substitute for it. It still takes humans to IMAGINE, DESIGN, and CREATE a better world - humans who have real conversations about appliances, automobiles, buildings, bridges, or movies - conversations about how things work, what they are made of, and how they perform. If you agree with me, you can email me at scott.sheppard@autodesk.com.

Self-reflection is alive in the lab.

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