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Heather Taylor

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Technology doesn't create loneliness, it reveals it. Once revealed, technology can help alleviate isolation and spur connection.

Dr. Turkle urges reflection and analysis and the idea that technology is its infancy. These are two important ideas and I urge others to consider this perspective: that technology fosters connections and developmental growth among the most socially awkward and vulnerable.

A healthy relationship of any sort (e.g., romantic, friendship, family) requires reciprocity. But when these sorts of relationships are out of balance, technology can fill a void. I posit that while technology can lead to isolation, isolation can also lead to connection when a lonely individual reaches out to others or becomes involved in the community via technology.

I'm curious if others view the connection between technology and isolation as one-way or bidirectional or if some other perspective entirely is needed to describe the complex technology-human connection.

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    Apr 5 2012: This was a refreshing look at what we computer geeks called techno-lust. It is a very slippery slope we are on indeed and it permeates the fabric of our society even deeper than Dr. Turkle suggests. The threat is not only social but also political and environmental.

    Our efforts at peeling the onion as it were reveals that a major component of this phenomena is the disconnection we have all achieved. By connecting technologically we risk disconnecting with life. How many of us know how our ipads actually work or where and how they are made? How many of us even know how plastic is made or copper is mined? How many understand the basics of radio communication and electricity?

    Technology has always had grand opportunities for equalizing the playing field and bridging prejudices. But, as Dr. Turkle eloquently points out, it has also offered us a virtual reality that will only intensify our disconnection. Already we have electronic implants to keep track of prisoners and children. We have the technology to display video screens on contact lenses and are not far away from patching directly into the optic nerve.

    It has been said that we are running 21st century software on hardware that hasn't been updated in 10,000 years. If technology is the software we must insure that our our brain, and by extension our understanding, keeps abreast or risk crashing our the OS of our civilization.
    • Apr 5 2012: I know the answers to the questions you posed, such as how ipads are made, because of technology. I have access to a wealth of information and education I otherwise may not have gained.
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        Apr 8 2012: Indeed Jessica, as I have. And therein lies the beauty of technology. I love the fact that I can travel from the bottom of the ocean to a quasar and learn about both through the technology of our day. It has also been said that there is no going back. As we climbed the ladder of progress it seems we have kicked out the rungs under us. TED is a great community to help us find solutions through technological advancements and allow us to learn about our world and all the technologies that we have collectively developed. My comments ponder the the community that lies beyond TED. The community that finds it hard to keep up or has never developed an interest for the knowledge of science. Do we have a responsibility to bring them along somehow? Or do we just accept what I see as Logan's prediction that technology will merge with and assimilate humanity much like homo sapiens merged with and assimilated the neanderthal? Who is the tool and who is the carpenter? It is a debate worth having, I think.
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      Apr 5 2012: It isn't necessarily true that our hardware hasn't been updated in 10,000 years:

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1343093/Human-brain-shrinking-20-000-years.html

      The brain is a constantly evolving thing. Shrinking and getting larger. In addition, I also saw it posited that our logical, number-crunching centers have grown more refined whereas our emotional, pattern-based centers have slowly been giving out from under us. This article sums it up quite nicely:

      http://www.erasmatazz.com/TheLibrary/TheMind/HistoryofThinking/ModernTimes/TriumphLogic/TriumphLogic.html

      That said, what if technology *is* the next step towards extending our understanding? What if we could use technology to augment those parts of our brain that may not be evolutionarily stable? Patching into the optic nerve--? Try patching into the brain. Like this study done to see if they can recreate what people are imagining merely by letting them watch a movie and having a machine decipher what those neural signals mean:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/8781503/Mind-reading-device-recreates-what-we-see-in-our-heads.html

      No, sir. As technology advances, the line between "technology" and "humanity" will only become more blurred as the terms become synonymous with each other.

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