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Designing "Companion Artifacts": The Relational Construction of Culture and Technology in Social Robotics



Indiana University Bloomington (US)


Selma Šabanović is an Associate Professor of Informatics and Cognitive Science at Indiana University Bloomington (IUB. Her research combines the critical study of computing, focusing particularly on the design, use, and consequences of socially interactive robots in different cultural contexts, with research on human-robot interaction (HRI). She has explored social robot applications in healthcare, education, and the home, and performed comparative studies of robot design and user perceptions in the US and Japan. She serves as Editor-in-Chief of the ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction. She recently co-authored the book Human-Robot Interaction: An Introduction, published by Cambridge University Press.



Social robots are designed to coexist with people and learn through their interactions. We, in turn, are expected to develop ways of behaving, communicating, and organizing that support robots. Inspired by this co-evolving relationship, this talk will explore social robots as "companion artifacts," focusing critical attention on how our concepts of self, cultural practices, social organizations, and sociotechnical infrastructures are co-constructed with existing and imagined social robots. I discuss how “Japanese culture” is repeatedly assembled in relation to social robots, what it means to “domesticate” robotic technologies, and how community-based methods can incorporate diverse sociocultural values into social robotics.