I have just travelled to Sydney in preparation for the International Conference on Social Robotics (ICSR), 27-29 October 2014. This is a conference I’ve always wanted to attend, but have never really felt able to pitch a paper that was likely to be accepted. One of the difficulties of interdisciplinary research, I suppose, it that sense of not belonging anywhere. Proposing a paper based on humanities-related methodologies to a scientific or engineering conference certainly feels very challenging to me, although I do go and present seminars to engineers and roboticists on occasion.
However, things are different this year. Not only have a written a paper for a special issue of the International Journal of Social Robotics (IJSR), which I hope will make it through its final review to be published in 2015, but I have also been invited to speak at one of the workshop events on the first day of the ICSR conference.
The workshop is titled: Robots and Art – Misbehaving Machines, and my research into human-robot communication is really relevant, in particular because of the robots that I analyse from creative art installations. This is the title page:
I’ll post all of the slides somewhere when the talk has been given. At the moment I’m pretty sure I know what I’m going to say, but I may need to be a bit flexible on the day depending on what people before me in the running order have spoken about.
As the images on the title slide show, I’m definitely planning to talk about three example: the Autonomous Light Air Vessels (ALAVs); the Fish-Bird Project; and AUR, the robotic desk lamp. AUR might seem to be an outlier here, since it wasn’t developed as an art installation; however, the use of acting theory that lies behind the interaction design for this robot, and its own acting career (because yes, it was the star of a play called The Confessor), make it a fitting robot to consider as I try to lead out of art and into other applications for human interactions with non-humanoid robots in particular.
The talk really follows the same trajectory as my book Robots and Communication. The manuscript for that is in preparation at the moment, and it should be published as a Palgrave Pivot next year, if all goes to plan.
This year the Department of Computing at Curtin, in association with the Perth Artifactory, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology and other international partners, is hosting the 2014 IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Response Robotics Summer School and Workshop.
I am presenting tomorrow (Monday 29 September), in a joint session, “Art and Robotics”, with the performance artist Stelarc founder of the Alternate Anatomies Laboratory at Curtin. I hope that our session will invigorate the attendees, who will already have experienced two hours of talks and discussions, and will probably be desperate for lunch!
Stelarc will be presenting first, and will likely provide a provocative view of the possibilities of robotics as explored in his artistic practice, and I’m going to try to work from those ideas back towards response robotics by looking at the various ways that robots can be understood to communicate. I’ll be talking about social robotics from scientific and artistic perspectives, moving from examples such as ASIMO (Honda):
and Kismet (MIT):
via The Fish-Bird Project (CSR):
and AUR (MIT):
to discuss relations with Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) robots like this Packbot (iRobot) pictured with a soldier:
So, that’s a completely normal presentation trajectory for me, and I’m hoping that it’ll make sense to everyone else!
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.
Re-evaluating the form and communication of social robots presented by Eleanor Sandry (Robo-Philosophy 2014) from Eleanor Sandry on Vimeo.
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.
Slideshare have decided to remove the slidecast functionality from their service, so I have been looking for a new home for my talk about human-robot teams, and sending robots into dangerous situations. I think I’ve found an alternative now, but I just realised that sharing the link on Twitter doesn’t work, since the site wants people to sign up (or sign in) in order to view the presentation. Here is an embedded version, which I hope anyone will be able to view:
This isn’t one of my best talks, which is irritating given that it’s the one I have recorded and been able to share in this way, but I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do something similar in the future with other presentations.