Tuesday, April 24, 2012

alone together



alonetogetherbook | Facebook. Twitter. SecondLife. “Smart” phones. Robotic pets. Robotic lovers. Thirty years ago we asked what we would use computers for. Now the question is what don’t we use them for. Now, through technology, we create, navigate, and perform our emotional lives.

We shape our buildings, Winston Churchill argued, then they shape us. The same is true of our digital technologies. Technology has become the architect of our intimacies. Online, we face a moment of temptation. Drawn by the illusion of companionship without the demands of intimacy, we conduct “risk free” affairs on Second Life and confuse the scattershot postings on a Facebook wall with authentic communication. And now, we are promised “sociable robots” that will marry companionship with convenience.

Technology promises to let us do anything from anywhere with anyone. But it also drains us as we try to do everything everywhere. We begin to feel overwhelmed and depleted by the lives technology makes possible. We may be free to work from anywhere, but we are also prone to being lonely everywhere. In a surprising twist, relentless connection leads to a new solitude. We turn to new technology to fill the void,but as technology ramps up, our emotional lives ramp down.

Alone Together is the result of MIT technology and society specialist Sherry Turkle’s nearly fifteen-year exploration of our lives on the digital terrain. Based on interviews with hundreds of children and adults, it describes new, unsettling relationships between friends, lovers, parents, and children, and new instabilities in how we understand privacy and community, intimacy and solitude. It is a story of emotional dislocation, of risks taken unknowingly. But it is also a story of hope, for even in the places where digital saturation is greatest,there are people—especially the young—who are asking the hard questions about costs, about checks and balances, about returning to what is most sustaining about direct human connection. At the threshold of what Turkle calls “the robotic moment,” our devices prompt us to recall that we have human purposes and,perhaps, to rediscover what they are.

37 comments:

Ed Dunn said...

I'm seeing this problem in pet owners as they have this little cat or dog and they appear to be extremely alone and project some "companionship" on a four-legged creature.  I do have a problem with older pet owners who tend to have social issues. At least the computers will be able to print/speak propaganda in the human language, i guess.

CNu said...

 I'm confident we're on the cusp of a whole lot more than that http://subrealism.blogspot.com/2010/06/emotiv-mind-control.html

and so should you be http://subrealism.blogspot.com/2012/02/google-reality-augmentation.html

CNu said...

 What our pathetic little mental-egoic selves took away from our experience of reality, our extended technological phenotype is about to return to us, in spades.....,

Big Don said...

Careful now.  When those Ones and Zeroes take over, you could be back pickin' cotton for Virtual_Massa...

Googling iMassa turned up nothing.  Perhaps you could trademark that and sell it to Apple...$$$

[more Googling]

Uh oh, they may be already developing these devices... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ON243l6cs8o

CNu said...

MWU,HA,HA,HA,HA,HA,HA,HA,HA,HAH!!!!!, for one who equates effective religion with "hacking the genome" - the prospects for radical autonomy and supremacy within the cognitive extended phenotype are pretty doggone good...., (why I welcome and embrace the cybernetic singularity that many of you humans fear and dread)

Big Don said...

Well, if you're gonna take humans interacting with computers to a higher level, it's important to consider all the angles.  After all, while you are out there warmly welcoming and embracing the singularity, a computer may be somewhat weak in the ethics department.  It may consider all the available data and decide that it makes sense to launch......iKKK

Dale Asberry said...

Don't you get it, Donnie? We don't live in fear like you...

CNu said...

lol, no BD, there won't be any spontaneously arising Hard AI's usurping agency. (and ethics would have nothing whatsoever to do with it in the entirely implausible speculative fantasy in which such a thing did happen) Evolution is, after all, a merciless taskmaster as you're so quick to assert in those specific domains of belief in which you specialize and operate.

Here, we're talking about enlarging the literal span and interpenetration of human consciousness, period. My only concern here that technology might enable psychologically immature humans to go where they've never gone before. Something which here-to-date has been phenomenally difficult, but which, when it happens, inevitably leads to very unpleasant unintended consequences for others.

Big Don said...

"We don't live in fear..."

Gess all those DWB rants we've read must've been on some other blog(s)...

Tom said...

Should somebody at some point iron out for BD who's black and who's white here, or is it more fun like this?

Dale Asberry said...

I thought my profile pic would've been an indicator

Tom said...

I think BD went autonomous a long time ago.  Indicators aren't what he does.

CNu said...

shhhh...., you extremely high-yalla incognegros need to keep your undercover status hush-hush and strictly on the QT....,

Big Don said...

More complicated than that---> 
http://townhall.com/columnists/mikeadams/2012/04/24/black_panics_and_white_hispanics

Tom said...

We got that Neanderthal thang going on.

http://dnaconsultants.com/_blog/DNA_Consultants_Blog/post/Most_Humans_Part_Neanderthal/ They used fire, tools and weapons ... With their short arms and weak shoulder sockets, however, they probably could not throw..."  Euroids are 2.5% pure Neanderthal.  Only a  residual 97.5% of our makeup is due to the new immigrants* who invaded our lands from Africa *AKA "modern humans"--a biased label created by Marxist science professors.

CNu said...

vato, we gotta learn to spot the subtle signs of a patented off-topic BD threadjack, all this other whooha was just a setup for his townhall insertion...,

Tom said...

Shoot, you're right.  I wondered why it didn't really fit in where he put it.

Big Don said...

C'mon, you  guys raised the issue of "indicators."  One drop of blood isn't detectable in those crummy Avatar images...

Dale Asberry said...

When Donnie posts *anything*, I assume a threadjack. And, other kinds of jacking...

Ed Dunn said...

 I would say we are already experiencing this. Some people only see a text message, they only hear a voice through a phone speaker, they only see a status update but they don't have the real interaction with people. I believe this has to be worst than prison where they can at least interact on a conversation level with others.

Anonymous said...

CNu is a crazy fuck ... Lol Lol Lol

Dale Asberry said...

Ah, come on Donnie, we both know that it's not through my blood that you want to receive my DNA. I'm not cool with that. You have any daughters? Granddaughters of age? 

CNu said...

The "jack" popped up like a whack-a-mole right'chere BD.

I don't think you could find a "DWB" rant from Dale anywhere on these interwebs if your life depended on it.

However, there's not a single topic, post, thread - ever done hereabouts in which you participate - which you don't intentionally or unintentionally distort via introduction of your bizarre racialist preoccupations.

How you get from Turkle's exposition on the influence of technology - to the bizarre proposition that Dale has done not one but many DWB rants, here, there, and elsewhere - priceless....,

CNu said...

What do you consider the downside of this if it's freely chosen Ed?

The ego/personality is an edited construct. Its structures and functions are not always consciously or intentionally organized. Matter fact, it can be profoudly machinic.

With that said, and given the prevalence of what I've termed machinic personalities, what difference does a machinic personality interacting through a machine interface make?

Dale Asberry said...

A program that can pass the Turing Test?

Ed Dunn said...

I wonder in the case of suicide help lines, if they actually succeed in interventions just over a phone hotline versus a physical intervention.

I would think the person trying to off themselves do not see the voice over the phone as a real person but someone they can express their own ego towards. However, a real person in-person would probably have a different effect.

So I conclude any AI/chatterbox that make it possible for a person to validate their own ego would be effective if it can serve that one single purpose well. 

CNu said...

When I think of google glasses coupled with an emotiv headset, AI is the very last thing on my mind. Rather, I see the beginning of low cost clairvoyance and telepathy systems....,

Big Don said...

"...
 there won't be any spontaneously arising Hard AI's usurping agency..."


Hold on a sec.  We thought virtual autonomy was the whole point of Singularity.  
Designs and implements it's own upgrades,  Its robotics build anything it needs.
Doesn't take any sht from humans.
Without that, it's just another App...

CNu said...

"A" possible prospective point - along with human biological enhancement. (HBE) and brain computer interfaces (BCI).

Given our certain knowledge of and increasing facility with HBE and BCI - down to the consumer level - we can be smugly certain about what's just ahead.

OTOH - given the clownish current state understanding and development of intelligence/sapience - we can be equally or even more smugly dismissive of the prospects for hard AI.

Subconscious, superego, art, music..., clearly significant processes related to human intelligence - and wholly and completely mysterious to science as practiced under the european dissociation...,

Big Don said...

Re: BCI.  I would be extremely careful with that stuff.  What happens to the human component when the computer component crashes?  Here's CNu with the "Blue Face Of Death."

CNu said...

lol, GTFOH with that Blue Face of anything, esta loco?!?!?!?!

Won't be an iota of Winbloze in any of my cybernetic prosthesis, and anybody silly enough to allow any of that rank, stank, and dank bloatware into their organism deserves exactly what they get!!!

Big Don said...

No software is that foolproof, not just Win is the problem.  Linux machines and iPhones have truble, crash, lockup, slow way down, where you gotta turn it off, and back on, to get going again. You don't wanna risk BCI resetting your heart and respiration rates to ~zero.... 

Even without that, you're gonna have Hackers that want to tap into his BCI and know what CNu is thinkin' when his [ROTFL] "Human Biological Enhancement Prosthesis" is "communicating" with iBimbo...

Good luck....

ProfGeo said...

I didn't know whether to post this before, after, or smack in the middle of the auto/hoochie-mama post, so I went for the Turkle because it'll remind me to come back and read the thread. So anyway, I saw the following at The Atlantic and who else could I share it with? :-)

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/arts-and-lifestyle/2012/04/invisible-borders-define-american-culture/1839/

CNu said...

Damn glad to see you haven't thrown in the towel quite yet!!! As always, great catch and thanks for sharing.

ProfGeo said...

 No, not totally gone yet. A few offline life changes shifted my online focus (for better or worse) so some of my old haunts are still mostly read-only or drive-by. I thought it would shift again a few months back, but not yet. So I keep my hand in on a couple of sites that don't take extended thought for posts (e.g. political sites, go figure) just to have a presence. And a couple of educator networks that are essentially flame-free but still interesting.  As to this thread, several folks such as Turkle, (Cathy) Davidson, and Rheingold all recently produced general/popular books with interesting observations on technology and human attention, whether or not you agree with their various approaches or conclusions. The confluence got my attention. My interest is due to the increased levels of (observable) distraction in my students, what role their personal tech may or may not play, and whether self-awareness (aka mindfulness) on their part will be helpful. Rheingold as well as recent Marc Prensky (2009-2012) seem most aligned with my needs because they're more about using the mind and technology to enhance the mind, while Turkle comes across as being more about raising the alarm and unplugging. I don't think she's all about that, really, just more so than the others.

CNu said...

What has to be unpacked is the specific set of understandings and motivations driving the educator's approach stance. I'm honestly, philosophically ambivalent, because I was raised on books and comic books with only 3 channels of televised distraction. However, I'm professionally about as jacked-in as it's possible to be, I thoroughly enjoy being jacked in and so professionally and pragmatically, I view it as an evolutionary fork and am consequently all-in professionally when it comes to maximizing educational access, content, and collaboration through personal technology.

What's good for the goose as it were..., and since every single one of these chirrens have never known the privation of three channels and nothing else but musty books and jabbering humans to turn to, and, as you say, 19th century pedagogy is compelled to compete with personal tech harnessed exclusively for the purpose of distraction, it's time to reformulate that old wine and serve it up effectively in these new bottles.

ProfGeo said...

 Yep, what you said. I'm also seeing relatively current research that strongly suggests there is not a sharp generational line between (say) digital native and digital immigrant, but there are differences/tendencies by age group. And exceptions abound, as we know.