How do we wish to interact with robots?

What does human-robot interaction (HRI) mean? The interaction between humans and robots means some kind of action between a human and a robot. Whereas we are clear about the human part of this interaction, there is no common ground for the robot part. It seems that a great proportion of the further questions originate from this ambiguity of the term “robot”. We don’t know yet what a “robot” is, what it means for us, what it does, can do, should do and further, how we as humans want and should relate to it and interact with it. The difficulty behind these questions is the differences we find when comparing robots to humans, animals, machines, technologies or computers. (This, by the way, is closely related to questions about what “being alive” itself means.) Robots – physically embodied units – are tangible and present and share the same space with us. Equipped with a certain kind of “intelligence” and autonomy, robots might not stay where we allocated them, they might learn from us, adapt to our habits and display life-like characteristics. Robots have some life-like essences as well as non-life-like essences. And probably, this is what makes it difficult for us to relate to them. In addition to that, robots enable new ways of interactions that are more human-like than when interacting with a computer or a simple technological device. Robots respond to us … Yet, it seems to me that it is still unclear how we want robots to interact with us but also how we wish to interact with robots.

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About juliafink

PhD candidate at EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)
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