Virtual Event: Debora L. Spar
Work Mate Marry Love:
How Machines Shape Our Human Destiny
in conversation with JAMIE METZL
August 31, 2020
Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Free - $3 contribution suggested at registration
Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes DEBORA L. SPAR—the MBA Class of 1952 Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and author of Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection—for a discussion of her latest book, Work Mate Marry Love: How Machines Shape Our Human Destiny. She will be joined in conversation by JAMIE METZL, technology futurist and author of Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity.
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While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $3 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by purchasing a copy of Work Mate Marry Love on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.
About Work Mate Marry Love
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.
Praise for Work Mate Marry Love
"Throughout history, technological change has reordered our lives, including its most intimate aspects. In this powerful account of 8,000 years of human development, Debora L. Spar traces how first settled agriculture, then the steam engine, and eventually the mid-twentieth century revolutions of cars, modern household appliances, and the pill transformed work and family patterns, production and reproduction. This dazzling and fast-paced guide to a new world in the making will make you recoil at times. Yet by unsentimentally historicizing the most intimate aspects of our lives, Spar’s big-picture book opens up new vistas for understanding the most consequential changes of our times." —Sven Beckert, Laird Bell Professor of American History at Harvard University and author of Empire of Cotton
"Based on thousands of years of history, Debora Spar convincingly argues that the major changes we are seeing in the technologies of biology and artificial intelligence are about to change how we think of ourselves and our places in society in fundamental ways. More than thought provoking, this is a book that will make you examine why you are the way you are." —James Waldo, Gordon McKay Professor of the Practice of Computer Science and Chief Technology Officer at Harvard University
“Debora Spar’s Work Mate Marry Love is a beautifully poetic examination of how the technologies we feel we are shaping are actually shaping us. With algorithms mediating every aspect of our lives and robots slipping into our bedrooms, it’s essential reading for anyone exploring what it means to be human at this time of revolutionary change. I couldn’t put it down.” —Jamie Metzl, bestselling author of Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity
Harvard Book Store’s award-winning event series continues online! Named "Best of Boston: 2020 Best Virtual Author Series" by Boston magazine.
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