What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

A Few Thoughts from Sherry Turkle's ALONE TOGETHER: WHY WE EXPECT MORE FROM TECHNOLOGY AND LESS FROM EACH OTHER

October 6, 2011, 1:34 PM
Young-searcher

The theme of Turkle's indispensable book is in its title.  It's an old theme, originating, maybe, with the philosopher Rousseau.  Technological progress is at the expense of personal virtue and the relational lives of persons. 

I'm going to share just a few observations from one of Turkle's notes (p. 308, note 11):

1. "As preteens, the young women of the first Google generation (roughly from 1987 to 1993) wore clothing widely referred to as 'baby harlot': they listened to songs about explicit sex well before puberty.  Their boomer parents had few ideas about where to draw lines, having spent their own adolescence declaring the lines irrelevant."

2. "One might say it's the job of teenagers to complain about constraints and the job of parents is to insist on them, even if the rules are not obeyed.  Rules, even unheeded, suggest that twelve to fifteen are not good ages to be emotionally and sexually enmeshed."

3. "Today's teenagers cannot easily articulate any rules about sexual conduct except for those that will keep them 'safe.'  Safety refers to not getting venereal diseases or AIDS. Safety refers to not getting pregnant.  And on these matters teenagers are eloquently unembarrassed, and startlingly well informed."

4. "But teens are overwhelmed by how unsafe they feel in relationships.  A robot to talk to is appealing—even if currently unavailable—as are situations that provide feelings of closeness without emotional demands."

5. "Rampant fantasies of vampire lovers (closeness without constraints on sexuality) bear a family resemblance to ideas about robot lovers (sex without intimacy, perfect)."

6. "And closeness without the possibility of physical intimacy and eroticized encounters that can be switched off in an instant—these are the affordances of online encounters."

7. "Online romance expresses the aesthetic of the robotic moment.  From a certain perspective, they are a way of preparing for it." 

So we can say that transhumanists want to become robots not only to be freed from the necessity of decay and death characteristic of biological bodies.  They want to be free from the shared responsibility and real intimacy characteristic of free and rational beings with biological bodies.  Relationships are unsafe.  Real love (and the corresponding real hate) are too scary and otherwise more trouble than they're worth.  We seem free to choose—and so we increasingly do choose—virtual lives, lives without the perception of real rules and constraints. An online relationship is almost as virtual or disembodied as a relationship with a robot.

 

A Few Thoughts from Sherry ...

Newsletter: Share: