Workshop 11: Rethinking (Human) Bodies in HRI--Embodied Interactions Every Day


Valentina Fantasia, Lund University, Sweden

Valentina Fantasia is Assistant Professor at the Department of Philosophy and Cognitive Science.  She works at the crossroads between developmental psychology, where she investigates embodied and situated ways for social cognition development from infancy; and critical approaches to social robotics, adopting embodied analytical approach to study the interactional dynamics between humans and social robots and their implications for our society. 

Katie Winkle, Uppsala University, Sweden

Katie Winkle is Assistant Professor in the Department of Information Technology. She tries to minimise the risks (/maximise the benefits) associated with robot design and deployment, trying to ensure we build robots that are useful, trustworthy and that support human flourishing. I work with participatory design/automation and experimental human-robot interaction studies in an interdisciplinary way

Katherine Harrison, Linköping University, Sweder

Katherine Harrison is Associate Professor in the Department of Thematic Studies (TEMA), Tema GENDER. Her work sits at the intersection of Science & Technology Studies, media studies, and feminist theory, bringing critical perspectives on normativity and knowledge production to studies of different digital media technologies. 

Rethinking (Human) Bodies in HRI: Embodied Interactions Every Day

Significant amounts of HRI research effort are spent on the design/evaluation of robot bodies. Critical discussion and debates concerning the way bodies are treated and considered within HRI have tended to focus on the implications of designing/interacting with highly anthropomorphic robots, yet drawing attention away from the human body in HRI, particularly in the context of everyday interactions with “unexpectedly” social robots, i.e. those non-humanoid robots that human users interact with in a somewhat “social” way. These kinds of robots crystallise particular aspects of (and tensions between) the different ways in which bodies are understood across disciplines. At the same time, a fundamental, and largely neglected tool for HRI research is the researchers’ own embodied experience of the intersubjective role. This workshop aims to put cross-disciplinary conversations on embodiment in HRI, and the different ways in which “the body” is variously conceptualised into active conversation through engaging an interdisciplinary panel of invited speakers and participant working groups. 

Friday August 23, 9:00-9:30 CEST, Workshop Room 2 (1441-210)

Dominika Lisy, Linköping University, Sweden

Dominika Lisy is a PhD candidate at the Department of Thematic Studies, Division of Gender Studies at Linköping University. She is engaged in interdisciplinary research through the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program – Humanity and Society (WASP-HS) under the project “The ethics and social consequences of AI and caring robot”. In her PhD project, she is exploring boundaries and affectivity in human-robot-interaction through feminist theories of materiality and bodies, and her figuration of the skin. 

Robotic bodies and their affective boundaries

Social robots are imagined and developed to have capacities of reading and expressing “emotional cues” and some research is even venturing towards “empathic robots”. Ontological boundaries between human and robots are seemingly blurred here, and consequently, this might change the human status socially, economically, emotionally but could also provide a chance for a feminist posthuman shift towards relational values. In my research I investigate the relation between ontological and material boundaries of bodies to contribute to a concern about the social consequences of human-robot-interactions. Through new materialist and corporeal feminist theory, I examine the dermal boundary of human bodies and “touch points” in robotic bodies. My presentation addresses the question of affected boundaries and how affectivity relates bodies to one another. Reading through the biological processes of the skin boundary (such as cornification, shedding, and afference), I illustrate how boundaries between human and non-humans can be re-configured. These boundaries can be said to have affective capacity - they can be sticky, smooth, rough, extending and hence modify the kinds of relations that are possible between human and robot. Considering the role of affect beyond emotional models in interactions between bodies is important for the design and development of social robotic bodies. It explores what kind of “skin” is built for robot bodies to “touch” humans, that is not simply about interface and surface designs but considers the kind of relations that develop from the way these different bodies are in touch with one another. 

Friday August 23, 9:35-10:05 CEST, Workshop Room 2 (1141-210)

Anna Dobrosovestnova, University of Technology Vienna, Austria

Anna Dobrosovestnova has a background in semiotics and culture studies, cognitive science and human-robot interaction. Anna’s work is inspired by sociology of labor, feminist studies of work, and theories of emotions. Her current work is situated at the intersection of human-robot interaction (HRI) and science and technology studies (STS) and focuses on how different actors experience and make sense of autonomous robots in public spaces. She draws on ethnography and mixed-methods approaches to explore the social and affective dimensions of situated human-robot interactions, as well as how these situated experiences further destabilize the space between interactions and design process. Anna is also a part of Caring Robots FWF ConnectingMinds project. 

Beyond Anthropomorphism: Exploring embodied multidimensional sociality in human-robot encounters

In her talk, Anna will share what she learned about different dimensions of sociality manifesting in human-robot encounters in everyday spaces beyond instances of anthropomorphising expressed in the language people use to articulate their experiences. Emphasizing the embodied and relational nature of these encounters, wherein all participants have agentive qualities, she further questions what this means for how in HRI and social robotics we conceptualize people who are not the direct users of technologies, but who nevertheless variously co-shape and co-constitute the daily operations of the robots. Furthermore, Anna will engage with selected literature on phenomenology of sociality to speculate how philosophical accounts of our bodily experience of living together in a shared world can inform our understanding of sociality in HRI.  

Friday August 23, 10:10-10:40 CEST, Workshop Room 2 (1441-210)

Tom Ziemke, Linköping University, Sweden

ITom Ziemke has been Professor of Cognitive Systems at Linköping University since 2016. He received his PhD from the University of Sheffield in 2000 and was Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Skövde before moving to Linköping. His research interests are in situated and embodied cognition, with a focus on how people interact with AI and autonomous technologies, such as social robots and automated vehicles. 

Ironies of Social Robotics: Embodiment in the Eye of the Beholder

Robot lawn mowers, vacuum cleaners and self-driving cars avoid obstacles, approach charging stations, and so on—and therefore are commonly interpreted as intentional agents. The fact that robots share physical environments with people does not necessarily mean that they are situated in the same perceptual and social world as humans, though. For people encountering socially interactive systems, such as social robots or automated vehicles, this poses the nontrivial challenge to interpret them as intentional agents to understand and anticipate their behavior but also to keep in mind that the intentionality of artificial bodies is fundamentally different from their natural counterparts. The talk puts this in the context of certain “ironies” of automation and AI and discusses how social human-robot interaction requires, on one hand, a “suspension of disbelief” but, on the other hand, also a capacity for the “suspension of belief” – plus the cognitive capacity to switch between these modes of interpretation in social interactions.