LOVE AND SEX ANALYTIC PAPER 1 ASSIGNMENT
Texts: Sherry Turkle, Alone Together(Introduction)
Barbara Fredricksons Selections from Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become
In Alone Together,Sherry Turkle investigates machine-mediated relationships as a safe substitute for intimacy with real people, which can involve cheating and heartbreak. Her argument is in part a response to the book Love and Sex with Robotsby David Levy, in which he proposes that relationships with robots might actually be better because of how they make people feel. Turkle challenges the premise of Levys argument, claiming instead that the shared experiences of real relationships, including the surprises and rough patches, make them authentic. The fact that we are fearful of that kind of intimacy is a sign that in matters of love and sex, we must be failing each other (7). Meanwhile, in her book Love 2.0, Barbara Fredrickson states that people crave [m]ore meaning, more connection, more energy more something (106). She soon identifies that something as love, which she unconventionally defines as a series of life-giving moments of positivity resonance (110). In such fortuitous moments, people truly connect with each other as their brains sync up and are on the same wavelength. Using ideas, examples, and quotations from both Turkle and Fredrickson, develop an original argument of your own in response to the following question (In general, stick to examples and ideas from the readings and not from your own experience):
Although the question above, marked in bold, is the one you need to answer, I am providing some additional questions to get you thinking about the topic. However, please do not try to answer all of them in this order. In fact, making a sustainable claim requires you to be selective about the line of argument you decide to pursue and the ideas that logically connect with it:
What is the role of authenticity in intimacy? How is authenticity with people inconvenient and risky? Can there be an authentic relationship with a machine? Think about related terms from the text such as illusion, substitution, avatar, anthropomorphism, simulation, and performance.
Does a relationship serve a specific purpose? What do you think about Levys criterion for a successful relationship: Does being with a robot make you feel better? (6-7). What does better mean and how is it achieved? Where do people fail, thus making room for robots?
Is there a difference between robots and our other devices such as smartphones? Whats their effect on loneliness as opposed to being alone? How does virtual intimacy change our experience of the other kind of intimacy rooted in real life? At what point does better than nothing become better than something?
What conditions for brain coupling are present or absent during technology-mediated interaction? To what extent does technology satisfy peoples longing for something more, and to what extent is it just another distraction that numbs the ache?
If love changes your biochemicals and your DNA, what are the consequences of not experiencing it? Keeping in mind the role of oxytocin, are the cues that indicate if one is sincere or trustworthy present when using technology? How, if at all, might the simulation of love through technology increase ones vagal tone?
Are relationships with humans and with technology complementary (meaning that they complete each other) or mutually exclusive (meaning that one eliminates the other)?
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