Sherry Turkle, MIT Professor and Author of The Empathy Diaries
In this episode of Talks at GS, MIT professor Sherry Turkle discusses her groundbreaking research on technology, empathy and ethics, and how writing about her own life experiences helped inform that research.
On empathy in the workplace: “In an organization, empathy is not, ‘I know what it's like to be at your level of management.’ It's ‘Tell me what it's like for you.’... The first part of empathy is really not making assumptions and really being quite open to listening, in humility, to what somebody is really going to say. Not having the answer, but really asking the question.”
On pursuing her research: “With my psychological training, I was getting that very emotional feeling from people when they talked about computers. And I would tell the engineers around me, ‘This is what I'm studying now.’ And they would say, ‘That is a waste of time, what a waste. You're not going to get tenure. The computer is just a tool.’ So that's how I was treated… I mean, we all know that the computer is not just a tool. It's the emotional, kind of psychic center of our lives for good and for bad… So I think that was the challenge in my career. And that's where I give myself, I don't know, credit for persistence, obstinance… Once I decide something is interesting, I'm going to figure that puzzle out."
This session was recorded on on March 11, 2021.