Work Mate Marry Love: How Machines Shape Our Human Destiny

Work Mate Marry Love: How Machines Shape Our Human Destiny

by Debora L. Spar


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A crucial guide to life before—and after—Tinder, IVF, and robots.

What will happen to our notions of marriage and parenthood as reproductive technologies increasingly allow for newfangled ways of creating babies? What will happen to our understanding of gender as medical advances enable individuals to transition from one set of sexual characteristics to another, or to remain happily perched in between? What will happen to love and sex and romance as our relationships migrate from the real world to the Internet? Can people fall in love with robots? Will they? In short, what will happen to our most basic notions of humanity as we entangle our lives and emotions with the machines we have created?

In Work Mate Marry Love, Harvard Business School professor and former Barnard College president Debora L. Spar offers an incisive and provocative account of how technology has transformed our intimate lives in the past, and how it will do so again in the future. Surveying the course of history, she shows how marriage as we understand it resulted from the rise of agriculture, and that the nuclear family emerged with the industrial revolution. In their day, the street light, the car, and later the pill all upended courtship and sex. Now, as we enter an era of artificial intelligence and robots, how will our deepest feelings and attachments evolve?

In the past, the prevailing modes of production produced a world dominated by heterosexual, mostly-monogamous, two-parent families. In the future, however, these patterns are almost certain to be reshaped, creating entirely new norms for sex and romance, and for the construction of families and the raising of children. Steering clear of both techno-euphoria and alarmism, Spar offers a bold and inclusive vision of how our lives might be changed for the better.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374200039
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 08/18/2020
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 153,637
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Debora L. Spar is the MBA Class of 1952 Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and the former president of Barnard College. Her previous books include Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection and Ruling the Waves: Cycles of Discovery, Chaos, and Wealth from the Compass to the Internet.

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Futures of the Past 3

Part I The Way We Lived

1 Life Before the Machines 17

2 Steam Heat: How the Industrial Revolution Transformed Women, Men, and Work 39

3 Mid-Century Modern 67

Part II The Way We Live Now

4 Changing the Means of (Re)production: Surrogate Moms, Gay Dads, and Our Evolving Notions of Family 93

5 Sex and Love Online 125

6 Mad Men; or, How Smart Machines Are Remaking Masculinity 155

Part III The Way We Will Live

7 Transitions 181

8 Cuddling with Robots 209

9 Engineering the End of Death 239

Conclusions: Welcome to Tomorrowland 265

Notes 291

Acknowledgments 349

Index 353

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