Social robots: The solution to our screen addiction, or more digital weirdness?

In the 1980s, Turkle was very much a technophile, having written an influential book, “The Second Self,” on the rise of personal computers. But she soured on digital technology in the following decades, growing concerned that digital devices can be addictive, distracting and in some ways dehumanizing. She told The Post that her change in thinking was triggered by always-online mobile devices, such as smartphones, and by her research studying children interacting with social robots.

She fears that people will buy robots to take care of children and the elderly — caregiver roles that real humans ought to fill. She argues that our gadgets not only keep us permanently distracted, but erode personal relationships and impair human empathy.

“These are robots that pretend they love you, they pretend they have a life, they pretend they have friendship — this is a pretend relationship, and pretend empathy. For kids, it’s toxic, and it can only get us into trouble,” Turkle said.