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Sherry's Story

Professor, author, consultant and researcher, Sherry Turkle has spent the last 30 years researching the psychology of people’s relationships with technology. A renowned social psychologist, she is the Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology and Society at MIT, as well as the founder 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.

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Referred to by many as the “Margaret Mead of digital culture,” Sherry has investigated the intersection of digital technology and human relationships from the early days of personal computers to our current world of robotics, artificial intelligence, social networking and mobile connectivity. Her New York Times best-seller, “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in the Digital Age” (Penguin Press, October 2015), focuses on the importance of conversation in digital cultures, including business and the professions. Her previous book, “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other” (Basic Books, 2011), describes technology’s influence on relationships between friends, lovers, parents and children, and new instabilities in how we understand privacy and community, intimacy and solitude. Sherry’s featured TED talk on the topic – “Connected, but alone?” – is a viral hit, garnering more than 4 million views. And for good reason.

Sherry’s exploration into our lives on the digital terrain shows how technological advancement doesn’t just catalyze changes in what we do – it affects how we think and how we view ourselves in relation to others. Her research also raises critical questions about technology’s role in business: what kind of work environment we want, and reexamines the limits of productivity, asking whether multi-tasking actually leads to deteriorating performance in each of our tasks. Does our always-connected state affect our ability to think, to be creative and to innovate?

Profiled in such publications as The New York Times, Scientific American and WIRED, Sherry is also a featured media commentator on the effects of technology for CNN, NBC, ABC and NPR, including appearances on such programs as Nightline, 20/20 and The Colbert Report, and has been named a Harvard Centennial Medalist and a Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year. In 2014, she was named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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