Depiction of Changes in Society Due to Technology in Alone Together Novel
In the book, “Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other”, Sherry Turkle focuses on how drastically our society is beginning to change with the progression of technology and the introduction of artificial intelligence. The evolution of technology has allowed society to be able to do anything from anywhere and with anyone. Although the current generation has developed the new versions of technology, the reliance society now has on technology is beginning to shape the way the population lives. Turkle makes a valid point that society prefers to treat inanimate machines as humans and treat each other as if they are robots, but she has been short sighted in the fact that society is ever changing and with artificial intelligence becoming more accepted, this may be the new standard. Technology has allowed people to fill a void by permitting them to be alone, yet having their peers at their fingertips. The current definitions of “humanity” and “relationships” may have to change in the near future based on our interactions with technology.
It is clear from the start of Turkle’s book that she wants to inform the reader of how technology truly affects their lives, from “Tomogatchi’s” to smartphones. Children grow up using toys with artificial intelligence such as “My Real Baby” and “Furby” so they are accustomed to robots from a young age. “Alone Together” gives the reader an insight of what technology may look like in the near future, allowing them to use this knowledge to get prepared. Turkle divides the book into two parts, with chapters in each part and different subheadings. Each chapter focuses on a different type of robot or technology. The tone of the book comes across as both personal an academic. The book is personalized with the author’s experiences with artificial intelligence and technology as well as her experiments. The academic tone comes in when Turkle talks about her work at MIT and her previous schooling. As a result of Turkle being a technology and society specialist at MIT, she includes real life observations and quotations from various people on the effects that robots have on the population. The first part of Turkle’s book focuses on different types robots and toys like Cog and Kismet, two robots being created. The second part of the book describes how technology is affecting the population and the different problems it causes, like anxiety in real life situations. There are a number of main ideas that Turkle returns to throughout the book. These main ideas include children’s robot toys such as “Tomogotchis”, “Furby’s” and “My Real Baby”, robots in nursing homes to keep elderly company, how children of different ages interact with artificial intelligence in different forms, the ethics that come with robots like romance and jobs, how technology is constantly on, the anxiety problems occurring in the real world due to technology and how the evolution of technology is affecting the younger generations. These main ideas are discussed many times in the book and reinforce the fact that technology and artificial intelligence is changing society.
When it comes to the arguments presented in Sherry Turkle’s book, a prominent statement she makes is “we seem determined to give human qualities to objects and content to treat each other as things” (Turkle, XIV).
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