Director of the Technology Department and autonomy of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the American anthropologist and psychologist Sherry Turkle has studied for fifteen years our relationship with technological objects. In Only together , the last volume of a trilogy on the relationship of people with their computer, she wondered how new technologies have reshaped the landscape of our emotional lives and our privacy.
The Second Self (1984) and Life on the Screen (1995), Sherry Turkle has focused closely the emergence of information technology and the new opportunities offered by the computer to create and explore a new online identity. In the mid-90s, she notes that two trends become clear: on one hand the development of a fully integrated network life, favored by the search engines and browsers and by mobile connections; another, an evolution of robotics that is no longer content to create robotic aid to individuals, but has now aims to create us new friends. Two trends of digital culture that primarily affect “digital natives”, these young people aged 5 to 25 years who grew up with mobile phones and toys that require attention. Solicitude toward inanimate which raises the question of our human identity.
Robots increasingly friendly?
Incorporating MIT in the years 80, Sherry Turkle attended frontline to the evolution of robotics and its gradual intrusion at the heart of everyday life. The first machines exclusively reserved for the elderly and designed as personal assistance robots, those for children, robotics has taken a growing place in homes, inviting us to reconsider the nature of thought, memory and human understanding.
To scrutinize carefully the relationship of users to these new social robots, Sherry Turkle has loaned artifacts from “Tamagotchi”, “Furby” and “My Real Baby” to seniors living in retirement homes and young children, all of various socio-economic backgrounds. She then noticed that individuals, regardless of their age, all had a tendency to see their robot as alive. Younger promptly kept emotional relationships with their new companions. Aware that they were very different from a dog or cat, they nevertheless expected them compassion, listening and affection. Similarly, after a very short period of adjustment, retirees put themselves naturally to consider their machine as a new friend, a confidant essential.
The substitution of human
Today, some of these robots are waiting more than a sympathetic ear: they are planning a new species that live with his privacy, mate and love. A reality that the anthropologist has encountered during his research, accused by a reputed Scientific American journalist to the “species chauvinism”. Pure science fiction? Not quite as robotics advance research in this direction, trying to further humanize the robots of tomorrow. Whether Milo , the humanoid developed by Microsoft in 2010 or Paro , the “first therapeutic robot” developed in Japan, both will reflect the commitment of men create a unique emotional interaction with the machine. This trend, which deeply challenges our relationship to the living, the author interrogates our ability to accept these human substitution and makes him say that “ we are ready, emotionally and even philosophically to host “.
But while we desperately seeking some human comfort in programmed machines, we run our fellow systematically, emphasizing the virtuality of Internet networks to exchange face to face. A disturbing symmetry that announces the end of human relations?
“Human is too demanding”
In parallel with the arrival of robotics in the daily emotional, Internet and social networks have messed in depth the links between individuals as well as the construction of the self.
Questioning of children, adolescents and adult Americans, Sherry Turkle searched the vastness of the Web: “Second Life” to social networks, it highlights the multitude of virtual worlds and their intrusion increasingly marked in the sphere of reality. Inviting himself to dinner, available everywhere and at all times thanks to the mobility of networks, these new worlds blur the boundaries and often imprison those who are lost, while giving them the illusion of never being alone.
Focusing closely dependent adolescents to their mobile phone, it has received numerous testimonies – uplifting – the relationship of these young people what she calls their “phantom limb.” If the network facilitates friendship as well as entertainment and commerce, the researcher is concerned, however the frenzy with which younger generations gradually fade human potentiality in favor of easier, less demanding and which they feel protected, less exposed to the uncertainty of human relationships.
A new report to another
If they are able to send an average of 3,500 text messages per month, these teens addicted to mobile routinely flee the actual report and all show the same fear: having to confront someone face to face, by telephone or worse, “in real life”. Situations that seem insurmountable because they require a contact without protection with the other, and they could bring out relationships that would not fully comply with their wishes. An interaction that also might make them lose control of their image.
In the end, these ultra connected young people expect less from others and more and more machines, avoiding human contact but looking constantly to be recognized and reassured. A new report to another whom the bell tolls of otherness, necessary for any social relationship, but also sweeps the time for reflection, contemplation, as well as the benefits of solitude, so valuable to any personal development .
captivating book that has had a great impact in the United States, Only together tells a story constantly changing, of our ability to be together and to accept others in its complexity. While the web is still young and growing network of life is still in its infancy, Sherry Turkle is not alarmist, but wondered: what will remain of a civilization that tells its own memory to a hard disk
& gt; Only together – Increasingly technology, fewer human relations , Sherry Turkle. Translated from English (USA) by Claire Richard. The breakaway editions. Collection “To end”. Date: March 2015 (First American edition: 2011). 528 p. € 22