“We make our technologies and our technologies make and shape us. We are not going to be the same people we are today, on the day we are faced with machines with which we feel in a relationship of mutual affection.”
“We must cultivate the richest possible language and methodologies for talking about our increasingly emotional relationships with artifacts. We need far closer examination of how artifacts enter the development of self and mediate between self and other.”
“In the end, the question is not just whether our children will come to love their toy robots more than [they love] their parents, but what will loving itself come to mean?”
- Sherry Turkle
Get your juices flowing with a few funnies below. Feel free to comment in the discussion forums on what any of them are trying to say about our relationship with technology.
Don’t you hate it when family and friends ask you questions about why you don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend? Does the social pressure to be in a relationship get on your nerves? Don’t you wish they would leave you alone so that you could just live your life? Well, Invisible Girlfriend or Invisible Boyfriend might be the service you have been waiting for. For a small fee, we will provide a selfie and daily texts that you can use as proof that you are already in a relationship.
Yes, this is a real service. It is just one example of how technology is facilitating new interactions between people and the relational artifacts that are becoming more and more prevalent in our society.
People relating to objects in the world is not a new phenomenon. In childhood, inanimate dolls are given rich personalities by their users and blankets are clung to for security. Later, TV acts as a source of diversion that substitutes for conversational family time. But as technology advances, we begin to see objects being imbued with an emotional and intellectual depth that approaches that of real human beings. How do we relate to an object that simultaneously relates to us? What types of relationships are appropriate with such relational artifacts?
These new relational artifacts are not simply providing fake relationships to the socially awkward. Therapeutic robot PARO is consoling the elderly in long-term care facilities. Human expression simulating robot MILO is helping autistic children decode nonverbal communication. Puppy robot AIBO is offering companionship to young and old. A whole host of devices are being utilized in research, education, therapy, and entertainment. What affect are these relational artifacts having on human society, our relationships with each other, and our understanding of ourselves?
Please explore our site. Engage with our case studies and join in the conversation.