Monday, January 24, 2011

MIT's Sherry Turkle on the Impact of Technology on Society

From the January 14, 2011 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Programmed for Love
By Jeffrey R. Young

In a skeptical turn, the MIT ethnographer Sherry Turkle warns of the dangers of social technology "...She has spent some 15 years since that day studying this emerging breed of "sociable robots"—including toys like Furbies and new robotic pets for the elderly—and what she considers their seductive and potentially dangerous powers.

She argues that robotics' growing trend toward creating machines that act as if they were alive could lead people to place machines in roles she thinks only humans should occupy.

Her prediction: Companies will soon sell robots designed to baby-sit children, replace workers in nursing homes, and serve as companions for people with disabilities. All of which to Turkle is demeaning, "transgressive," and "damaging to our collective sense of humanity..."

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