As promised here is my video presentation for Robo-philosophy 2014. This is based on a full length paper that I have written for a special issue of the International Journal of Social Robotics. The special issue should be published sometime in, or possibly before, early 2015.
In this paper, I re-evaluate what constitutes a social robot by employing a range of communication theories, alongside ideas of anthropomorphism and zoomorphism, to analyse how different forms of robot are interpreted as socially aware and communicative. A critical assessment of the development of humanlike and animal-like robotic companions is juxtaposed with a consideration of human relations with machine-like robots in working partnerships.
Although some traditions of communication theory offer perspectives that support the development of humanlike and animal-like social robots, these perspectives have been criticised by communication scholars as unethically closed to the possibilities of otherness and difference. However, an analysis of human relations with Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) robots and with AUR, the robotic desk lamp, demonstrates that machine-like robots are interpreted by humans as social and communicative others. This interpretation is supported by processes of tempered anthropomorphism and/or zoomorphism, which allow people to communicate with machine-like robots while also ensuring that a sense of the otherness of the machine and respect for its non-human abilities is retained.