2 Great Technology Related Books we Recommend our Readers

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle

How have new technologies redesigned the landscape of our emotional lives and intimacy? It is the central question of Alone Together. To answer this question, anthropologist Sherry Turkle studied our relationship with technological objects for fifteen years. She observed a tendency among pet robot users to consider them as alive and to let their pre-programmed reactions fool themselves.

A new fantasy is thus emerging, where safe and unsurprising technological substitutes could soon replace stressful and imperfect interpersonal relationships. She noted that a similar dynamic was at work in our relations with new technologies in general. Ultra-connectivity is accompanied by compulsive behaviors that jeopardize the benefits of absolute solitude, necessary for self-building.

Its surveys of teenagers reveal their increased dependence on smartphones and their tendency to prefer media coverage to one-on-one interactions – considered too risky and demanding. This captivating book has had a significant impact in the United States. It shows, with evidence, how we cut ourselves off from what is at the heart of any human relationship: otherness and its share of unpredictability, risks, and pleasures, forever inaccessible to computer systems.

Kids and screens – Opinions of the Academy of Sciences of Jean-François Bach, Olivier Houdé, Pierre Léna, Serge Tisseron

The Opinion was drafted by two members of the Academy of Sciences and two external persons whose work focuses on the immune system, cognitive development of the child, astrophysics, and psychiatry/psychanalysis respectively.

Its purpose is to “provide a measured account of the positive and negative aspects encountered when children of different ages use these various types of screens.” To meet this objective, it is proposed to “integrate the most recent scientific data from neurobiology, psychology, cognitive sciences, psychiatry, and medicine.” It is also specified that this Opinion is “at the crossroads of scientific knowledge, educational reflection, and attention to the ever-changing functioning of our society.”

We will, therefore, be confronted with both scientific content and more subjective content, reflecting reflection. Consequently, we hope to be warned as much as possible of the kind of claim we have to make, to distinguish what is within the purview of science from what is within the speculation.

The book can be divided into four parts: introduction, recommendations, arguments, and appendices. This analysis will focus on this penultimate part, even if there is something to say about all of them.