Team 1 Synthesis

As I said during the class discussion, I enjoyed the Author’s Note and Introduction. It covered so many ideas it really got the book moving. I feel like we had plenty of room to explore this assignment because we were the first group to present. My favorite aspect of this project was the keywords. They were a great start to develop questions to ask the class. When I asked my questions I planned on relating to my keywords. Although my questions were simple, I kept them broad to see what everyone’s answers were and I hope it would lead to good conversation in class, which I feel like it did.
The discussion in class was beyond what I expected. First of all I was extremely nervous, I felt like it public speaking class all over again. Starting a discussion based class is tough. The first few questions I asked about the reading came with awkward silence. Thankfully after the third question someone in the class answered it and slowly class picked up from there. Barrett being thirty really gave the class a new insight on how we (20-25 year olds) view technology. Another great part of the discussion is when I would say something that I believe was true and someone else had a stronger point that changed my mind about things.
During the conversation I really enjoyed the self-control part. It truly is up to our generation to start the concept of self-control. We have all this wonderful delicacies in our life from cupcakeries to mini hand-held computers, that we don’t know how to use them without over indulging. If we just took one bite of the creamy red velvet cupcake vs. eating the whole thing or deciding to leave our cell phone at your cubicle during a meeting, we will be okay.
Overall it was great to hear if people my age have agreeing or disagreeing viewpoints on technology in our lives. It definitely motivated me to live a little without my cell phone constantly in my hand.

-Kyleigh Palmiotto

The general topic of discussion is technology and its effects on the human race. Specifically, chapters one through three in Turkle’s book reflected on the ways in which technology can create a false sense of reality and a new sense of ‘place’. With the growth and expansion of technology comes a responsibility for humans to carry out. It is wise to monitor the use, relations, and understanding of technology so that it is implemented in a beneficial way. While reading I examined the results of experiments Turkle carried out to better comprehend how humans, at all age ranges, and they interpret what robots are. Intriguingly enough, children to the elderly all give robots human characteristics, or rather personify them to be something they are truly not. The argument lies in the boundaries of what a robot is and is not capable of. The biggest issue is the fact that robots cannot genuinely feel emotion, a most basic human concept. Because all robots lack the spontaneous ability to produce an emotional response while interacting with a human, they are utterly incapable of taking the place of a living, breathing species. There is a fine line drawn between living creatures and robots when humans begin to confuse what is real and what isn’t. Technology has allowed simulation to occur and unfortunately the consequences may be life altering for future generations. As younger children learn the wrong way to interact with the technology they form ideals for how it should be used and eventually pass such thoughts on to the following generation. Technology is supplementing the need for face-to-face interaction, downtime, and alone time with a constant and ever-present ability to always be on and connected. As stated in the discussion, technology is our candy, not our fulfilling meal. This outlook will create a cycle and leave humans at the disposal of technology. Technology isn’t a bad thing, but it can certainly be harmful when dealt with inappropriately. Like Turkle said, and Jessie pointed out, we shouldn’t try to rid of technology entirely, but instead take a responsible and mature approach to the way in which it is applied in our daily lives.

-Astleigh Hobbs


After reading the Introduction through Chapter 3 of Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together, we (Group 1) attempted to achieve two main goals through our keywords, questions, and discussion: 1) Interpreting the ideas set forth in the beginning of Alone Together in the context of our own lives, specifically regarding how technology has and is changing intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships; and 2) Deciding if and how we can change our practices with technology in order to reestablish healthier relationships.

We set the context for our questions by using the following key words:

  • digital native to encourage our classmates to consider our unique position as the first generation that has always had some form of technology at our disposal;
  • social robots and artificial intelligence to encourage our classmates to recognize the abundance and significance of new technological artifacts that are increasingly capable of mirroring human emotion;
  • intimacy to encourage our classmates to consider how the concept of intimacy has changed as technology becomes more pervasive; and finally,
  • chauvinism to encourage our classmates to consider the fact that some people already accept robots even as sexual partners, as one science writer accused Turkle of “species chauvinism” because of her condemnation of humans having sexual relationships with robots.

In our questions, we asked our classmates to consider the authenticity of human relationships with robots, what “alone together” means to us, whether we as a society have neglected to teach our children and ourselves how to be alone (and the consequences of that neglect), and what this all means for our future and our children’s futures.

In the answers to the questions we asked and during class discussion, people made it clear that overall, we agree with Turkle in that technology has and continues to negatively affect our relationships with our peers and ourselves. Some examples include that we no longer value face-to-face communication as much as we used to, have shorter attention spans, seek more and more control over our image, and value real intimacy less and less. Although Turkle’s text can sometimes seem depressing in its implications, we discussed the power that we have to reevaluate our use of technology and, by asking questions or making small changes in our own lives, see the potential for a different future in which we establish healthier boundaries with technology and thus healthier relationships with other people and ourselves.

— Jessie Abell