Software

Is technology at work taking the humanity out of our personal relationships?

Interview: Sherry Turkle, author of <em>Alone Together</em>, on how workplace IT leads us to treat friends and family like emails...

...a way to bail out and not have to be with each other."

While this ability to hide behind technology may make life easier in the short term, there comes a point when young people have to face up to the social world.

"You really can't hold a job down if you can't talk," Turkle said.

"For most jobs you have to be able to communicate, you have to be able to feel free and comfortable with people.

"You have to be able to not feel that you have to hide from people to be successful in most fields of endeavour," she added.

Hope for the future

Despite the ubiquitous nature of technology in Western society, Turkle believes there is potential for our relationship with technology to alter.

"I think the next big change won't be technology, but will be a change in the etiquette around technology," she said. "I think the next big steps in technology are going to be steps of social action rather than technological changes."

"I think we're going to start redefining our sacred spaces, where we are going to be with each other. I think people are going to start to say 'put it away'," Turkle added.

People need to think about how and when they use technology, not necessarily "stepping away from technology, but taking a step to the side", she told silicon.com.

Turkle argues that people must decide how far they are willing to let IT interfere with their human relationships, as technological advancement may in the future afford us new ways to replace meaningful in-person interactions with tech substitues and so further challenge our perceptions of what is acceptable.

"It's for us to decide - do I really want to leave my ageing mother with a robot that tells her it loves her?"

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