Simulation and Its Discontents

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Overview

Over the past twenty years, the technologies of simulation and visualization have changed our ways of looking at the world. In Simulation and Its Discontents, Sherry Turkle examines the now dominant medium of our working lives and finds that simulation has become its own sensibility. We hear it in Turkle's description of architecture students who no longer design with a pencil, of science and engineering students who admit that computer models seem more
"real" than experiments in physical laboratories. Echoing architect Louis Kahn's famous question, "What does a brick want?", Turkle asks, "What does simulation want?"
Simulations want, even demand, immersion, and the benefits are clear. Architects create buildings unimaginable before virtual design; scientists determine the structure of molecules by manipulating them in virtual space; physicians practice anatomy on digitized humans. But immersed in simulation,
we are vulnerable. There are losses as well as gains. Older scientists describe a younger generation as "drunk with code." Young scientists, engineers, and designers, full citizens of the virtual, scramble to capture their mentors' tacit knowledge of buildings and bodies. From both sides of a generational divide, there is anxiety that in simulation, something important is slipping away.
Turkle's examination of simulation over the past twenty years is followed by four in-depth investigations of contemporary simulation culture: space exploration, oceanography, architecture,
and biology.

The MIT Press

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What People Are Saying

Don Ross

"It's remarkably easy to forget that there ever was a time when design engineers and architects manipulated 3-dimensional objects and scientists estimated model variables on blackboards. Turkle's latest book reminds us that, in science as in everyday life, technological change often slips past us and transforms our sense of what we're doing and why we're doing it without our remembering to notice. As she's done so often before, Turkle remembered on our behalf."--Don Ross, School of Economics, University of Cape Town and Department of Finance,
Economics and Quantitative Methods and Department of Philosophy, University of Alabama at Birmingham

From the Publisher

"In the 2008 economic meltdown, opaque computer systems had a role to play, making it hard for people to understand the levels of risk they were holding. Markets could be simulated, and simulations nicely showed what potential disaster looked like; but they couldn't say anything about whose specific actions threatened trouble for whom. That's not the kind of financial world investors were used to living in. Turkle's book reminds us that, in science as in everyday life, technological change often slips past us and transforms our sense of what we're doing and why we're doing it without our remembering to notice. As she's done so often before, Turkle remembered on our behalf."
Don Ross , School of Economics, University of Cape Town and Department of
Finance, Economics and Quantitative Methods, University of Alabama at Birmingham

The MIT Press

Don Ross

"It's remarkably easy to forget that there ever was a time when design engineers and architects manipulated 3-dimensional objects and scientists estimated model variables on blackboards. Turkle's latest book reminds us that, in science as in everyday life, technological change often slips past us and transforms our sense of what we're doing and why we're doing it without our remembering to notice. As she's done so often before, Turkle remembered on our behalf."--Don Ross, School of Economics, University of Cape Town and Department of Finance,
Economics and Quantitative Methods and Department of Philosophy, University of Alabama at
Birmingham

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Sherry Turkle is Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and
Technology at MIT and Founder and Director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. A
psychoanalytically trained sociologist and psychologist, she is the author of The Second
Self: Computers and the Human Spirit
(Twentieth Anniversary Edition, MIT Press),
Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, and
Psychoanalytic Politics: Jacques Lacan and Freud's French Revolution. She is the editor of Evocative Objects: Things We Think With, Falling for Science: Objects in
Mind,
and The Inner History of Devices, all three published by the MIT
Press.

William J. Clancey is Chief Scientist of Human-Centered Computing in the Intelligent Systems
Division at NASA Ames Research Center, and Senior Research Scientist at the Florida Institute for
Human and Machine Cognition.

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    Posted December 24, 2013

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