Alone Together: the Robotic Movment

A Response to Sherry Turkle’s “Alone Together: The Robotic Movement” In “Alone Together: The Robotic Movement,” Sherry Turkle explains some of the negative effects that robots are having on our lives. She also explains how they can have a negative effect on our daily lives without us even noticing. I am someone who knows a great deal about technology, however I had no idea that close human-robot interaction was happening at such an inappropriate level. There are many different examples Turkle uses in the article, however, I will only talk about two.

I agree with Turkle not only that there are ethical problems with human-robot interaction but also that a lot of other forms of technology might be doing more harm than good. To begin with, I agree with Turkle that human-robot interaction raises many ethical issues. For example, she describes a situation in a museum when she was presented with the question, “Do you care if the turtle is alive? ” (Turkle 323). Most people would actually prefer a robot in the place of an animal that is alive because it would be less boring. Immediately, I saw which direction Turkle was taking this. She digs deeper into that concept.

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As her journey became better known, Turkle was directed to a book Love and Sex With Robots. Even the title of this book gets me a bit nervous. The book states “Robots are, of course, ‘other’ but in many ways, better. No cheating. No heart break” (Turkle 324). This particular quote makes me upset. I don’t understand how people can think this way. Granted, not everyone has the same values and morals as I do, however I would hope that some people would treat this with more emotion. Having intimate relations with someone is something that I take very seriously, and to think that people are using robots as a substitute makes me sick.

How can people be so detached from their emotions to think that a robot would be capable of filling a gap in their relationship? One particular woman said she would trade her boyfriend for a “sophisticated Japanese robot” (Turkle 326). There is no guilt when feelings are hurt. The ironic thing is that even though this woman supports the idea, she said the very thing that is wrong with it. Feelings aren’t being hurt because the robot can’t feel. Robots can be the best substitute in the world, however they will never be able to have a real relationship because of their inability to share emotion.

This is where the relationship aspect starts to take place. There are a select few that have a new technology in their hands. A robotic seal has made its way over from Japan that has the ability to “understand” what you are feeling and can make you feel better. This robot would be a great toy to have, unfortunately the people that own this are people that are having trouble with normal relationships. The robot can take away time from a person’s relationships in reality. Although the relationship with this seal is fantastic, relationships with friends and family are diminishing.

I can see why it is happening. Robots, because they have no feelings, cannot judge, make you feel guilty, nor do they require effort to maintain relationships with. However, part of life is being able to weather the highs and lows. It’s what makes us human. Furthermore, I agree with Turkle that technology is overtaking our lives in a way that we might not even notice. Most everyone has one has a cell phone. Whether we are texting, reading emails, or playing Angry Birds, we are so absorbed into a virtual world. Even though we may not realize it, many of us are addicted these devices.

Modern-day cell phones have made this so much worse on us as humans. “Technology ties us up as it promises to free us up. ”. (Turkle 330). Cell phones allow us to stay connected all the time to whatever we are doing. I know parents who work all day, and they are able to take it home them. Most teenagers I know focus a lot of attention to what is going on in each other’s lives. In almost all of their personalities, I have noticed a change. They, along with myself, would much rather text someone than call. It really is easier than calling. Easier at what? Face to face contact?

Hollywood has noticed this and now most movies and television shows have scenes where the whole family has a fork in one hand and a cell phone in the other. It has become a new normal. Even watching a movie as a family has gotten more complicated. We are bombarded by the market to always be enhancing our movie-watching experience with 3D TVs and Blu-Ray DVDs. Growing up in this age, these things have also grown up with me. I don’t really know any other life. Although, I agree with Turkle on most of the points she has made, she points out things like Facebook have ruined our relationship with the outside world.

I disagree with this statement. Facebook has made it very easy for me to keep in contact with some great people. Families need to be careful to not get caught up in this ever-changing world we live in. I agree with Turkle that the intimate relationships that some people are starting to have with robots are not ethical. Furthermore, I can now see that the cellphone technology is growing too fast for us as humans to handle and could be doing more harm than good. After reading this and comparing it with my own life, I don’t think that I will change my habits even though I now know the harm that it can possibly be doing.

I will, on the other hand, keep this in the back of my mind next time I decide to play a game on my phone while in a waiting room. It may be better for me to put down my phone and start up a conversation with a stranger. ? Work Cited Turkle, Sherry. “Alone Together: The Robotic Movement” Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less From Each Other 2011: pp. 3-13. Rpt. in Writing in the Disciplines. Ed. Mary Lynch Kennedy and William J. Kennedy. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc. , 2012. 322-30. Print.

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