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Reading Maketh a Full Man...

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Currently reading

The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Canto)
C.S. Lewis
Boys and Girls Learn Differently!: A Guide for Teachers and Parents
Michael Gurian, Terry Trueman, Patricia Henley
Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet
Christian Wiman
Deep River: The Life and Music of Robert Shaw
Keith C. Burris
Daring, Trusting Spirit
John De Gruchy
The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church
John Thavis
The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia
Orlando Figes

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other - Sherry Turkle A very worthwhile book to read. Having been part of the world of artificial intelligence and robotics in years past, this book is a fine overview of the development of the first "thinking" machines (like ELIZA) to the current trend of robots that "feel" or relate. Or at least we have programmed them to simulate responses that to us indicate "feeling". In the first half of the book, the author raises the dilemma -- we are beginning to rely on relational robots or care-taker robots more than humans. In Japan with the younger population significantly fewer in numbers than the elderly, certain therapeutic robots were developed to purposely give the elderly someone (or some thing) to relate to. Look up AIBO, Cog and Kismet, My Real Babies, Furbies, Milo (virtual human), Nursebots, Paro, Tamagotchis and you will find a mixture of toys and relational robots.So what does it mean for us to relate and rely on programmed machines? It seems simple enough, but in creating relational robots we now have given them programmed behaviors that imitate human emotions. The emotions are not real however, they are programmed. Paro, the therapeutic robot that is in the form of a baby harp seal, is programmed to emit soothing noises when the person holding Paro pets it softly and gently. Many elderly patients project onto Paro emotions that the robot really does not have. The author raises this issue and asks, "is this dangerous?", and then shows us why it is.The second half of her book deals more with the interconnected world of Facebook, Twitter, the internet, and virtual lives lived online. So what does it mean when real humans who have real human relationships in a real world prefer to spend their time (dare we call it "living"?) in an online simulated world? In that online simulated world you can relate to various other people, all with their own avatars and hiding who they really are. So what becomes real? The author here raises this issue and asks "is this how we want to grow and develop as humans?" and then shows us the consequences of living in this way.