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Cyberintimacies / Cybersolitudes

Date & Time:
17:00:00 - 18:30:00,
Thursday 25 October, 2007


Recent years have seen the development of computational entities – I call them relational artifacts – some of them are software agents and some of them are robots – that present themselves as having states of mind that are affected by their interactions with human beings. These are objects designed to impress not so much through their ‘smarts’ as through their sociability, their capacity to draw people into cyberintimacy.

This presentation comments on their emerging role in our psychological, spiritual and moral lives. They are poised to be the new ‘uncanny’ in the culture of computing – something known of old and long familiar – yet become strangely unfamiliar. As uncanny objects, they are evocative. They compel us to ask such questions as, ‘What kinds of relationships are appropriate to have with machines?’ And more generally, ‘What is a relationship?’

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  • Name: Sherry Turkle
  • Affiliation: MIT
  • Role:
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  • Bio: Sherry Turkle is Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT and the founder (2001) and current director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. She is the author of Psychoanalytic Politics: Jacques Lacan and Freud’s French Revolution; The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit; and Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. Professor Turkle is currently completing a book on robots and the human spirit and editing a three volume collection to be published by MIT Press on the relationship between things and thinking. The first volume, Evocative Objects: Things We Think With was published in June 2007. The two following volumes, Falling for Science: Objects in Mind, and The Inner History of Devices will be published in 2008.