For decades, Sherry Turkle has shown how we remake ourselves in the mirror of our machines. She joins us to illuminate our search for connection in a time of uncharted challenges.
Sherry Turkle was in Chicago, Paris, and Cambridge in the late 1960s and early 1970s — times of extraordinary intellectual and political conversations — and at MIT in the mid-70s, there for the start of the digital age. Since the earliest days of computer culture, she has used her skills as a psychologist to understand the social transformations brought about by new technology. In this livestream, In Conversation event, Professor Turkle will explore the story of her life and work to date, tying together her coming-of-age with her pathbreaking research on technology, empathy and ethics.
She says: “Not treating people as objects and trying to forestall technology’s assault on empathy were personal for me. My father’s love of science and its theories made it easy for him to lose touch with the human needs of his wife and infant daughter. My mother kept secrets and spoke to me in a kind of code. Nothing was straightforward. From childhood, I had to figure out how to read her mind, to intuit the contours of her reality. If I developed empathy, at first, it wasn’t so much a way to find connection as a survival strategy. My parents gave me burdens in childhood that I honed into gifts.”
As a young woman Turkle’s intellect and curiosity brought her to worlds on the threshold of change. She learned friendship at a Harvard/Radcliffe on the cusp of coeducation during the anti-war movement, and she followed her ambition while fighting for her place as a woman and a humanist at MIT. There, Turkle found turbulent love and chronicled the wonders of the new computer culture, even as she warned of its threat to our most essential human connections.
She says: “We are the empathy app. To fix our crisis of intimacy and privacy, of empathy and human connection, we don’t need more technology. We need one another.”
As we head into a post-pandemic world and have the chance to reclaim human connection after months of isolation, don’t miss this chance to engage with a visionary and pioneer of our digital age.