Sherry Turkle is Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT and the founder (2001) and current director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self, a center of research and reflection on the evolving connections between people and artifacts in the co-construction of identity http://web.mit.edu/sturkle/techself. The Initiative looks at a range of technologies including robotics, psychopharmacology, video games, and simulation software and their effects on human development. Dr. Turkle has written numerous articles on psychoanalysis and culture and on the "subjective side" of peoples' relationships with technology, especially computers. She received a joint doctorate in sociology and personality psychology from Harvard University, and is a licensed clinical psychologist. She is the author of Psychoanalytic Politics: Jacques Lacan and Freud's French Revolution (Basic Books, 1978; MIT Press paper, 1981; second revised edition, Guilford Press, 1992); The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit (Simon and Schuster, 1984; Touchstone paper, 1985; second revised edition, MIT Press, forthcoming); and Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet (Simon and Schuster, November 1995; Touchstone paperback, 1997).
Dr. Turkle has been exploring questions about human development given the most recent developments of the computer culture. She is focusing on two areas: first, the development of computational objects as they become increasingly "relational," that is, designed to exhibit affect and respond to human emotions in an effort towards developing "sociable" and nurturant connections with people. She leads a NSF-funded research project, "Relational Artifacts," on the psychological impact of computational objects as they become increasingly sociable, exploring a range of objects, including "affective" computer programs, humanoid robots, games that simulate people, creatures, societies, and robotic dolls and pets. She is studying the users of these technologies as well as new ways to theorize our new relationships with the world of artifacts. Second, Turkle is Principal Investigator on a NSF-funded study of "Information Technology and Professional Identity: A Comparative Study of the Effects of Virtuality," a collaborative effort at the Initiative which looks at the impact of using simulation technologies on a range of professions including architecture, medicine, and nuclear weapons design.
She delivered the annual Freud Lecture in Vienna, "Whither Psychoanalysis in Digital Culture?" which explores the question of where our emotional vulnerabilities to these objects are taking us, both emotionally, ethically, and theoretically, and has presented this issue in keynote addresses to the annual meetings of the American Psychological Association and the American Psychoanalytical Association. Dr. Turkle is currently editing a book, Evocative Objects: Things We Think With, a collection of essays that has grown out of the Initiative's work, and completing a book which she considers the third of her "computational trilogy" on people's increasingly intimate relationships with machines that have been explicitly designed to be human companions.
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