Once a cheerleader of the Internet revolution, Sherry Turkle, the Director of MIT’s Initiative on Technology and Self, has become deeply pessimistic about our digital future. In her controversial new book, Alone Together, Turkle argues that the development of emotionally sympathetic robots like Tamagotchis and Furbies means that the “robotic moment” has arrived for the human race.
It’s no laughing matter. Alone Together is the result of hundreds of interviews that Turkle has carried out over the last 15 years with a broad cross section of children, adults and old people. What Turkle finds is that, out of a sense of disappointment with each other, we’ve turned to robots as a substitute for human interaction. What Turkle meticulously charts in Alone Together are robots used by lonely, isolated human beings as lovers, best friends and caregivers.