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Workshop 3 Speakers: Working with and Alongside Robots: Forms and Modes of Co-Working

Three Dimensions in Human-Robot Cooperation

In my talk I will argue for a three-dimensional approach to cooperation. On this approach, any cooperative phenomenon can be located on the continua of (i) a behavioural axis, (ii) a cognitive axis, and (iii) an affective axis. For example, cooperation can be located on a behavioural axis, ranging from complex to simple coordinated behaviours. Moreover, the cognitive requirements in cooperation are a matter of degree, ranging from cognitively demanding cooperative activities involving shared intentions that presuppose sophisticated social cognitive skills such as having a theory of mind to basic joint actions like intentional joint attention. Finally, cooperative activities may be influenced by (shared) affective states. The three-dimensional approach trumps alternatives insofar as it facilitates the dialogue among disciplines. For example, as I will show, it allows determining whether and to which extent particular skills and capacities are implementable in robots and in which cases human-robot cooperation differs in one way or the other from human-human cooperation.

Anika Fiebich

Dr. Anika Fiebich is currently a postdoctoral fellow of the Centre for the Study of Social Action at the University of Milan in Italy. Her research concerns the philosophy of mind and action. Anika Fiebich is interested in topics including social cognition, collective intentionality, and social ontology from perspectives of analytic philosophy and phenomenology. She published a number of articles in these fields. In general, her work is highly inspired by empirical evidences from developmental and social psychology, cultural sciences, robotics and neurosciences.

Classifying Forms of Collaborations in the OASIS framework

OASIS, the Ontology of Asymmetric Social Interactions, was developed with the goal of providing a classificatory framework for human-robot interaction that would allow for an interdisciplinarily integrated discussion of artificial sociality, normativity, and responsibility attributions (Seibt 2014, 2016, 2017).  The aim of this talk is to put this framework to use for an analysis of future work experiences with social robots.  In OASIS five modes of simulations are distinguished.  Each human action is associated with a matrix listing the possible combinations of modes of simulations of the parts of the action.  The goings-on in a specific robot can then be described in terms of a row of the “simulatory expansion matrix” of a human action.  This simple method allows us to avoid the common practice of describing the robot’s contributions in a human-robot interaction with mentalist vocabulary (“plans, recognizes, sees” etc).  As Fiebich et al 2015, OASIS uses familiar distinctions in forms of collective intentionality to classify different kinds of coordinated and collaborative social interactions  between humans and robots, but evaluates these for three perspectives (second-person, internal third-person, and external third-person).  These perspectives matter for the ascription of responsibility but also, as I will try to show in this talk, for a classification of forms and modes of co-workings with robots. For example, for certain forms of simulations we would seem to be able to predict that what is, from the internal third-person point of view, designed as co-working in the form of teamwork, is experienced as “working alongside” or even “working next to” by the robot’s direct interaction partner who has a second-person perspective.

Johanna Seibt

Together with Marco Nørskov, Johanna Seibt coordinates the Robophilosophy Conference Series. She works on the ontology of human-robot interactions and is the PI of the research project on Integrative Social Robotics (INSOR) supported by the Carlsberg Foundation with 25 researchers from 11 disciplines. She is co-editor of Sociality and Normativity for Robots—Philosophical Inquiries (Springer 2017, together with R. Hakli and M. Nørskov) and  of Robophilosophy—Philosophy of, for, and by Social Robotics (MIT Press, forthcoming).

Cosmic Anthrobots: Conjecturing Our Mode of Collaboration With Robonauts

“Robonaut” is the name Nasa gives to humanoid robots. These are designed in order for them to perform tasks in outer space that would be analogous to what a human who be able to do. Like current Mars rovers, these robonauts will be at least partly remote-controlled by an Earth-based human pilot, which means that, in such cases, the working collaboration will be an immensely distant one (interplanetary or intergalactic).

My presentation will conjecture that the human species will become a cosmic species not by travelling through space directly and physically as is often imagined, but by using robotic avatars, projections of our bodies. I call this relational form of exploratory work “cosmic anthrobots”, in order to follow up on the Robophilosophy 2016 paper “We, Anthrobots: Learning From Human Forms of Interaction to Develop More Plural Social Robotics” (de Miranda et al., 2016).

I will now propose a few hypotheses on the mode of being that a cosmic-robotic projection of the human at work means. My analysis will be inspired by current collaboration between human Rover drivers, located on Earth, and the robotic non-humanoid devices they control on Mars (“Spirit” and “Opportunity” for example). I will also perform some comparison with the modes of work in the early systematic human-robotic (anthrobotic) factories in Japan, especially in what regards what I call the “Shizuoka Case”, at Star Micronics (Schodt, 1988) in which human workers complained that they “felt like robots.”

Luis de Miranda

Luis de Miranda, PhD, is the author of 12 monographs and novels, translated into several languages. His themes of research are: epistemological history, philosophy of science and technology, esprit de corps, and cosmology.

Sociological Remarks on Repetition and Variation in Human-Robot Cooperation

From a sociological point of view the criteria for a successful human-robot cooperation would be quite different than those specified by roboticist or HRI-research groups. The criteria for a successful human-robot interaction (HRI) depend on whether one focuses on the robot as a machine or  on the human as a social actor. Most research designs however choose the machine-based definition to describe the outcome of HRI as successful or not. In our paper we suggest taking into consideration the other side of the equation. In this regard, a successful interaction is not restricted to the fulfilment of an anticipated and machine-side pre-scripted outcome or action; rather, here success hinges on the possibility of taking the robot’s (unexpected) action as an occasion for further communication. Humans are experts in picking up on possibilities for creating a successful interaction. We will present data from our lab that shows how humans constantly are transforming failures of the robot into a source of communication, and how (machine) “failure” can become an even greater success of (social) communication than the strict execution of a predetermined script by the machine.

Diego Compagna

Diego Compagna is a senior research fellow (post-doctorate) in the Control Systems Group, part of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Technische Universität Berlin. His research interests in the field of Science and Technology Studies focus on the area of theory-building, sociological actor-models, methodology for the evaluation of human-robot encounters as well as interaction and the politics of innovation strategies for special target groups.

Philipp Graf

Philipp Graf is a Master student in Technology-Studies and works as part of the junior research group on human-robot interaction at the Technical University Berlin. His research interests focus on social theory (especially network theory and social systems theory), mixed-method approaches for the evaluation of human-robot interactions and the qualitative evaluation of robotic design. Further research interests focus on network analysis and network visualization as well as in new religious movements.


In his talk, Hendrik-Jan Grievink will present a vision in which technology becomes a ‘next nature’, through a selection design projects of the Next Nature Network such as ‘Meat The Future’, an exploration of the cultural potential of in vitro meat and HUBOT, a job agency for humans and robots. The talk will focus on the new ongoing ‘Reprodutopia’ project, an investigation into the future of relationships, sexuality and reproductive healthcare through speculative research and design fiction. The projects aims to research potential new cultures that could emerge when Artificial Reproductive Technologies such as artificial wombs or other robotic reproductive environments become a reality. The main question here is: Biological reproduction, gestation and childbirth may be natural process, but are they humane too? Is it fair and just to place all risks and burdens of producing a new generation of humans only on the female part of the population? Can we envision the alternatives and the reproductive cultures these will bring? And more importantly: how should these alternatives be designed?

Hendrik-Jan Grievink

Hendrik-Jan Grievink is designer at Next Nature Network and as such, has been responsible for much of the visual output of the network. His work includes the book Next Nature: Nature Changes Along With Us (2011); art direction and design of the NANO Supermarket, our mobile expo disguised as a supermarket about the impact of nanotechnology on our daily lives (2010 – present) and the In Vitro Meat Cookbook, which explores the possible futures of lab grown meat through design fiction (BIS publishers, 2014).