Book Review The Second Self

In the book The Second Self, Sherry Turkel records the time period in which everyday ordinary people come into contact with computers and electronic machines on a daily basis that just a few years earlier were only available to scientist and researchers. Her research dives into the idea that we change psychologically as we interact with these machines sometimes to the extreme of having a subconscious emotional relationship with them as we enter into an age of artificial intelligence and where boundaries between man and machine.

PART 1-Growing Up with Computers: The Animation of the Machine In part one of the book, Turkle examined over 200 children and their interaction with computers and electronic toys.

In one of her studies, she asked the children if the computer was alive. While some children said yes and some said no, Turkel concluded that when children are talking about computers, emotional features substitute physical ones as the primary basis for a computer to be called ‘alive.

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’ Interestingly enough as the author moves into the arena of video games, the concept of the machines have a psychological holding power begins to form. Turkle formed the idea that, ‘Television is something you watch. Video games are something you do, something you do to your head, a world that you enter, and, to a certain extent, they are something you “become’.

While I agree with the author up until this point, I disagree with her on the next point where she doesn’t believe video games can become ‘mindlessly’ addictive.

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With the invention of the home computer and gaming console, users primary play by themselves and are mentally focused with the computer system. At the time of this current edition, 2005, video games and consoles like the PlayStation 2 were just beginning the process of having online capability. As we continue to advance in the internet and artificial intelligence within the gaming community, addiction is becoming a clinical health problem. So much so that the American Psychological Association is close to classifying Internet Gaming Disorder in there Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

The Mechanization of the Mind Part 2 consists of how adults are interacting with the same computers. The first few chapters in this section of the book primarily deal with the history of the personal computer starting from the 1970’s and how the development of this technology leads to the introduction of hackers. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), plays a large role in the introduction of hackers as they develop computer hardware and software. Later in this section, Turkel discusses the idea that artificial intelligence was designed to do actions people could do through computer programing. From there scientists in the field of artificial intelligence began to exam how the human mind works blurring the line of subjective and objective reflections.

“There’s only one place to get ideas about intelligence, and that’s from thinking about myself,” says AI scientist Roger Schank (cite book). As artificial intelligence continued to evolve, ethical questions arose in the field of robotics. This lead to the development of Isaac Asimov’s “Laws of Robotics” which sought to protect the robots from humans giving equal protection to artificial intelligence. Basically there are three laws, one, it cannot harm a human, two, it must obey human orders except when it contradicts the first law, and third, it must protect its own existence as long as it doesn’t differ with the first two laws. I have a hard time with this concepts. PART 3-Into a New Age With the final chapter, Turkle offers her opinion on the future of artificial intelligence.

She references the original 1987 movie of Tron and how she compares the idea that computers are more than just bits of information but that of a society. She interviewed Marvin Minsky, Co-founder of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He said, ‘Society is the mnemonic for multiple, simultaneously interacting programs within a complex computer system.’ This leads the author to conclude that the brain is a complex computer. While I know we live in an age of ever advancing technology, the thought of artificial intelligence being compared to humanity is concerning. There is no substitute for the Image of God that can be replaced by artificial intelligence.

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Book Review The Second Self. (2022, Jan 02). Retrieved from

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