Around the Institute

Aspen Ideas to Go Podcast: Robotic Moment: Conversations With Machines

October 29, 2015  • Tricia Johnson, Guest Blogger

The “Aspen Ideas to Go” podcast is a weekly show featuring fascinating speakers who have presented at the Aspen Ideas Festival and other public programs offered by the Aspen Institute — including Aspen Words, the Alma and Joseph Gildenhorn Book Series, and various events around the country. For a curated listening experience subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or listen to each episode on the Aspen Ideas website.

Conversation is facing a crisis in our culture. We regularly put people on “pause” in conversation to check our phones. We treat machines as if they are almost human. We want technology to step up, as we ask humans to step back. And having nothing to forget about how we used to relate to one another, children embrace these new rules for talking to machines.

In this talk, Sherry Turkle, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of the social studies of science and technology and author of “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age,” explains how we have arrived at this “robotic moment.” She explores what she calls the “four fantasies of the robotic relationship” and the impact our dwindling face-to-face conversations have on empathy.

Tricia Johnson is editorial director of public programs at the Aspen Institute.