[SydPhil] REMINDER: Max Cappuccio (UAE Abu Dhabi) at UNSW tomorrow, 8 August

Markos Valaris m.valaris at unsw.edu.au
Mon Aug 7 11:47:16 AEST 2017

Can robots be social companions?
Anthropomorphism, Reciprocity, and Recognition in Human-Machine Interaction

Massimiliano L. Cappuccio (PhD)
Associate Professor,
Cognitive Science Laboratory, director
UAE University
Emirate of Abu Dhabi

Social robotics research takes for granted that successful human-robot interaction requires robots sophisticated enough to match the human’s social characteristics and intelligence. More specifically, developers expect sociality to stem out of reciprocity relationship, which builds on the possibility of mutual recognition between human and machine, which in turn seems to depend on the disposition of the former to anthropomorphize the latter. The uninvestigated assumption in this inference is that the human disposition to anthropomorphize is causally dependent on and constrained by the behavioral, aesthetic, and cognitive features of the machines, which is why roboticists and developers aspire to create machines capable to do something (play the imitation game) or appear in a certain way (pass the Turing test) or reach a certain level of sophistication.

I will point out that, if these assumptions were correct, then social interaction between humans and robots would have never been possible, given the unsophisticated simplicity of today’s social robots, with their well-known cognitive and aesthetic limitations. The most successful examples of social robots, especially those designed for clinical applications and as social partners, build on a rather different psychological mechanism: the robots’ capability to solicit and fulfill the human expectations to encounter a social partner. Understanding these expectations requires realistic awareness of how the relationship between human and robot is not comparable to any standard social interaction between sentient beings. Rather, like art, literature, and other material forms of cultural expression, robot-creation essentially amounts to a form of self-stimulation conducted by the human through artificial extensions specifically designed to solicit pro-social expectations and immediate reactions. In this particular perspective, the activity of AI designers and robot makers allows us to interrogate the key philosophical notions of recognition and reciprocity.

Venue: UNSW Kensington Campus, Red Centre room 1040 (Central Wing)

Date & Time: Tuesday 8 August, 12:30-2:00.

Markos Valaris
Senior Lecturer in Philosophy
Associate Editor, Australasian Journal of Philosophy
University of New South Wales
Phone: +(61) 2 9385 2760 (office)
Personal webpage: markosvalaris.net<http://www.markosvalaris.net/>

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