art : ai : communication : research : robotics : science : sf : teaching : theory : writing

Author: Eleanor Sandry (page 2 of 22)

2019 Big change, big plans

2019 was going to be the year of my blog and my writing (big plans). I went part time on my return to work in January (big change). I had an extensive and complex spreadsheet planning method prepared by two weeks in. That spreadsheet contained all my teaching and research commitments for the first half of the year, subdivided into tasks with time estimates allocated to specific weeks. A pivot table on the next worksheet showed me how well my plans tracked against the time I had available each week on my 0.6 FTE.

I was prepared to document how I was going with this planning process, as well as other techniques I wanted to put into practice for managing my time and writing more, on my blog.  That didn’t happen.

Also, guess how long my use of that spreadsheet lasted. Go on, guess. I don’t even want to go back and check. Semester rolled around, teaching took over (even with my hugely reduced load) and I commenced operation “Fail to Write Research Until the Very Last Minute”.

Today I am going to institute a new mindset. Yes, I am writing at the last minute. Again. This time I am channeling some words from my golf clinic last night.

Don’t think about what you’re trying to do. Just think, “I’ve got this”. Take some time getting your stance right, whatever club you’re using, and swing.

This is remarkably similar to some advice given to me by one of my mentors, John Hartley, in relation to writing.

Don’t think, “I’m going to try to write today”. Don’t try, just write.

Wish me luck.


Emotional Robot Design

Recently I had the opportunity to present about robots and emotion. This was a topic I’ve talked about before, and wrote about in my PhD thesis. Some of the ideas also came through in Robots and Communication, but as I prepared for The Future of Emotions conference I realised that quite a few of my thought had never really appeared in any of my publications. There were lots of new robots (and ideas) to be included, of course, and I had a great time giving this talk.

For once, I remembered to record my talk, so I’ve decided to upload it here, along with my notes as a form of transcript (because I did stick to my notes on this occasion). I’ve also included a list of links below the recording, so that you can locate the websites for the robots I discuss. I’ve not put up my slides, because there were some images that I only used under Fair Dealing for Research and Study, so don’t want to publish on the public web. However, by visiting the websites you’ll get to see the robots and bots in detail.

Websites for the robots that I discuss (in the order they appear):

Jules and Sophia www.hansonrobotics.com

Zo www.zo.ai

Ava www.soulmachines.com

Kismet www.ai.mit.edu/projects/humanoid-robotics-group/kismet/kismet.html

Jibo www.jibo.com

AUR robotic.media.mit.edu/portfolio/aur/

Shimon www.shimonrobot.com

D. O. U. G. sougwen.com/project/drawing-operations

It’s always a bit of a gift when an international conference takes place just down the road. (At least, that’s what I think, as someone who doesn’t really enjoy travelling to attend conferences that much although I always have a great time once I’m there). The University of Western Australia is where I studied for my PhD. It has a beautiful campus, which I admit I skived in order to explore in the beautiful sunshine (and, yes, winter in Western Australia is like this quite a lot of the time).

UWA in Winter (beautiful and sunny image of trees, grass and sky)

Please let me know if you have any problems accessing the recording or the notes through a comment or an email. This is the first time I’ve put up a talk in this way, so it’s an experiment.

Lost epigraphs – Conclusion


yellow_quotationWe have to see the different maps as answering different kinds of question, questions which arise from different angles in different contexts. … The plurality that results is still perfectly rational. It does not drop us into anarchy or chaos (Midgley, 2002, p. 82).

The conclusion to Robots and Communication is very short, because really Part III was designed to wrap up the arguments of the chapters, while also taking the opportunity to draw together and further extend some overarching themes. In the conclusion, my aim was to explain one way of envisioning how the use of a number of theories can be helpful in understanding communicative situations, without the need to value one theory over another. In doing this, I drew on Mary Midgley’s writing about scientific theories, which I had found very helpful as I grappled with the research that was the basis for the book.

Midgley, M. (2002). Science and poetry. London; New York: Routledge.

Lost epigraphs – Chapter 7

Chapter 7 Communication, Individuals and Systems

yellow_quotation[R]ecognizing all forms of agency precisely allows us to speak of ethics and responsibility in a very practical and incarnated way (Cooren, 2010, p. 6)

As a continuation of the previous chapter’s musings about boundaries between different types of being, this chapter revisited some of the ideas in earlier discussions that related to the balancing act of paying attention to individual communicators and also the dynamic system of communication that forms over the course of an interaction. The analysis draws upon François Cooren’s arguments about activity and agency, which allow one to, amongst other things, re-position responsibility within a system, as opposed to with an individual. Part of the goal of this chapter was also to move beyond discussing short-term interactions between humans and robots, to consider the way that these relations might develop over longer periods of time. In doing this I tried to get across the sense that such relations are always asymmetrical, but that this asymmetry is flexible if the relation responds to changing situations, and the participants have developed trust and respect for each other (where in a human-robot pairing, it is the human’s trust in, and respect for, the robot that will be most important to the adaptability of the team).

Cooren, F. (2010) Action and agency in dialogue passion, incarnation and ventriloquism. Amsterdam; Philadelphia: John Benjamins Pub. Co. Available at: http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=623314 (Accessed: 10 December 2014).

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