Session 15: Future Human-Robot Relations

Friday August 23, 9:00-9:30 CEST, Auditorium 3 (1441-113)

Ceyda Yolgormez, Concordia University, Canada

Ceyda Yolgormez is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Indigenous Futures Research Cluster, working in the Abundant Intelligences Research Program. Her PhD work proposes the outlines of a sociology of machines for reimagining human-machine relations, and places emphasis on those relations that cannot be easily sublimated under frameworks of instrumentality, control, or management. Her research looks at playful and creative engagements with machines as a site to explore and experiment with human machine socialities, and is interested in methodologies that reveal and trouble the common-sensical way in which we understand such relations. 

Robo Ludens: A Playful Conception of Social

This paper explores the foundational role of play in the constitution of the social, showing a way for considering play not merely a children’s pastime or simply unproductive and pleasurable activity, but a critical component of social relationality and agency. Drawing on anthropological and sociological perspectives, the paper follows an alternative to existing approaches in social robotics and proposes a conception of ‘Robo Ludens’ through a discussion of play as an attitude that is fundamental to emergence of sociality (Huizinga, 1949), and thus prepare a way for social robotics to explore how to make robots compellingly social. Thinking of play as an orientation toward a disordered world, it will become possible to grasp play’s inherent ability to invoke indeterminacy (Malaby, 2009), and its facilitation of metacommunication amongst actors that ultimately facilitate their agency and socialization in a given environment (Bateson, 1955). This consideration of play will then be glanced through the case of a robotic design paradigm proposed by Ralf Der and Georg Martius (2012), exemplifying how searching for playful attitudes in robots creates dynamic systems that playfully learn and socialize into their environment. The paper concludes by highlighting the potential for social robotics to explore play’s capacity in creating spaces of contingency in which to cultivate more nuanced and dynamic human-robot relations.

Friday August 23, 9:35-10:05 CEST, Auditorium 3 (1441-113)

Lisa Klautzer, TEZO Analytics LLC, Los Angeles, USA

Lisa currently focuses on STS topics with respect to emerging technologies in particular Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) sand AI. Together with her coauthor Swaptik she is presently working on an adaptive framework for fairness in AI and an AI/DLT enabled decision-support tool for a more sustainable food system. She is the co-founder of TEZO Analytics, an interdisciplinary company bridging research and consultancy by applying qualitative and quantitative methods to help stakeholders navigate future complexities. Prior to that, she was a researcher at the RAND Corporation, an international think tank, and an associate director in the research unit of the global management consultancy CEB (now part of the technological research and consulting firm Gartner). She has a law degree from the Karl-Franzens-Universität (AT), and a Ph.D in policy analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School (USA). 

Swaptik Chowdhury, Loyola Marymount University, USA

Swaptik is a doctoral candidate at Pardee RAND Graduate School and is an assistant policy researcher at RAND Corporation. His research interests include climate change adaptation, emergent technologies, misinformation/disinformation, and algorithmic fairness in AI. Swaptik leverages a mixed-methods approach, including advanced network analysis, different machine learning methodologies, complex systems analysis, and agent-based modeling and simulation, to guide decision-making around critical policies. His recent work includes estimating the economic implications of increased storage to accommodate renewable energy generation and investigating hate in online discourse in the EU.

Changing the narrative - an invitation to a serious yet playful exploration of ontologies, epistemologies, and cybernetic assemblages in light of recent developments in robotic and AI

While recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics may reign in a new era in human-machine interaction (HMI), we can draw on a wealth of existing and evolving experiences and intellectual adventures rooted in philosophy and science, technology, and society (STS) studies to inform our theoretical and practical engagement with this new phase. In this paper, we explore the pathways at the individual level of the opportunities and risks that these developments entail, how the narratives we use in describing and envisioning shape how we think about HMI, and how specific philosophical frameworks can be well suited in envisioning the complexities of human and AI/Robotics collaboration. We then conclude with reflections on how such a discourse should envisioned to help us achieve a deeper and more fruitful understanding and practice when it comes to HMI in the area of AI and robotics but also what specific risks it brings about.

Friday August 23, 10:10-10:40 CEST, Auditorium 3 (1441-113)

Nello Barile, IULM University Milan, Italy

Nello Barile is Associate Professor at the Department of Communication at IULM University (Milan), where he teaches Sociology of Media and Sociology of Fashion. His research interests include sociology of media and communication, culture, fashion, consumption, and politics. He has published numerous books, articles, and short essays in Italy as well as in USA, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Brazil etc. Recently he published Communication in the new hybrid ontologies: from platform to the metaverse, Milan: Bocconi University Press, 2022.

Performative Ontologies and Phygital Fetishism: the Neoliberal Exploitation of Creativity Implemented Through Robotics and/or Generative AI

The paper discusses the notion of performance in order to explore the reason why it has become a key concept of neoliberal ideology. The concept of performance is also a strategic feature of emotional AI, robotics as well as synthetic media (Meikle 2022). If the role of emotional robots should be considered as “Rorschach Spots (Turkle 2011), the recent idea of “empathic media” (McStay 2017) shows us how emotions are managed by automated and synthetic agents. In the post-Fordist system, Marxist 'subsumption' can be extended to a broader range of 'performances', encompassing any kind of activity (material, immaterial, economic, creative, entertaining, etc.). More than the “commodity fetishism” proposed by Marx on the border between the First and the Second Industrial Revolution, we should explore the cultural meaning of the “phygital fetishism” that started with the Fourth Industrial  Revolution (Schwab 2016). For this reason, the study is focused on three main examples of intersection between performative technologies and “phygital fetishism”: 1) the reshaping of the daily experience through creative devices such as Robotic Fashion; 2) The creation of a futuristic imagery managed by fashion companies and designed with the aim of generative AI; 3) The implementation of Multimodal AI through Wearable Technologies as an example of new social robots, cognitive devices, and“radical technologies” (Greenfield 2017). Analysis will help to describe how the integration between physical and digital, on one hand, and between emotions and automation, on the other, is creating an infallible circuit of ontological exploitation.