Entry Date:
September 13, 2002

MIT Initiative on Technology and Self

Principal Investigator Sherry Turkle


Beyond catalyzing changes in what we do, technology profoundly affects how we think. Technology alters people's awareness of self and redefines their relationships with the world. Though this has always been true, recently the pace and depth of technology's effects on identity have increased. The Internet has become a space for new forms of self-exploration and social encounter. Psychopharmacology, genetic engineering, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and robotics are among the technologies now raising fundamental questions about selfhood, subjectivity, relationships, development, and what it means to be human.

The MIT Initiative on Technology and Self was founded in 2001 by Sherry Turkle, Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology, with the generous support of the Mitchell Kapor Foundation. It focuses on how contemporary technologies become enmeshed in the formation of human identity.

The Initiative's goal is to create a center for reflection and research on the subjective side of technology and to raise the level of public discourse on the social and psychological dimensions of technological change. The Initiative welcomes participants from the academic community (both faculty and students), as well as from journalism and industry.

The Initiative sponsors working groups in specific thematic areas. The structure of the working group is flexible. Some groups run speaker series or hold conferences; some are centered on a research project or planning one; others focus on sharing ongoing research and/or the analysis of texts. Participating in a working group is not limited to students only; all members of the academic community -- including faculty, research scientists and staff -- as well as those from industry, may lead or join a working group.

Current Initiative Working Groups are:
Psychopharmacology and Identity ("Rx/ID")
Design, Space, and Software ("Architecture")
Body Technology
Robots, Creatures, and Human Identity
Digital Sensualities
Video Transformations of Memory and Self
Psychodynamic Perspectives on Technology and Self
Virtual Worlds/ Virtual Games
Coding Software/ Coding Self