Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Faculty of Social Science
Ramat Aviv, 69978 Israel
Social Robots: An Anthropological Inquiry
The rapid development of information technologies has resulted in growing interactions between humans and computing devices: cellular phones, tablets, wearables, robots and alike continue to augment our relationships with them. Social robots are already employed in nursing, childcare and training and becoming part of society and culture. Progress in computing, software and AI, accelerate the development of sophisticated robots. Their functional abilities have been enriched by social interaction skills which make them as claimed, ‘social agents’. Accordingly, the sociological and anthropological literature is devoting growing attention to nonhuman objects and entities as active social participants.
This study is aiming to examine ethnographically the social interaction forming between robots and humans and how social robots are integrated within society. It is designed to promote our understanding of: the patterns of conduct that characterized human-robot interaction, their conditions of feasibility and acceptance. An outlook of what our choices to develop and how to use social robots tell us about ourselves.
The framework objectives of this research are: (1) examining ethnographically the boundaries between humans and robots and people’s visions of the differences that constitute these boundaries; (2) exploring the production of humanness through robots; (3) exploring the attribution of ‘agency’ to robots; (4) examine ethnographically whether and how robots get to participate as agents in producing and reproducing the diverse features of social life, including modalities of subjectivity; (5) how does robot agency serve to contrast and maintain desires, rationalities, races, genders and so on.
Supervisor: Prof. Ofra Goldstein-Gidoni