Programme

(T156)
Doing Social Robots by Other Means
Location M214
Date and Start Time 01 September, 2016 at 09:00
Sessions 1

Convenors

  • Miquel Domènech (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) email
  • Marta Díaz-Boladeras (Technical University of Catalonia) email

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Short Abstract

This proposal wants to answer the question about how to design social robots by other means. Following this idea, the session will be structured around some issues related to that: how to diversify the actors involved in the process? What ethical principles and caring models are at stake?

Long Abstract

According to statistics, there is a continuous and significant increase of the importance of robots in economy and society. Most of those robots are produced to cover industry needs, thinking in the robot as a substitute of human beings. Robots are supposed to improve the quality of work by taking over dangerous, tedious and dirty jobs that are not possible or safe for humans to perform. Thus, most of the envisaged scenarios don't foresee the need to take into consideration how to manage the social interaction between human and robots; once the robot is placed, the human being disappears from there. Nevertheless, the idea that robots can cover other human needs than those related with industry has also gained ground and new concerns and debates are taken place. Robots appear in environments that would have seemed unexpected not much time ago assuming duties traditionally assigned to humans. In this context, a multidisciplinary group of engineers, medical staff and social psychologists has being collaborating during the last two years to define a framework for the development of social robots in the sanitary context. This proposal wants to answer the question about how to design social robots by other means. Following this idea, the session will be structured around four questions: how to design social robots for a hospital? What caring models are introduced with robots? Challenges and defiance in participatory design applied to robotics? How to build up an ethical framework in a multidisciplinary context of innovation?

This track is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Designing social robots: rethinking challenges and constraints of a participatory experience

Authors: Núria Vallès-Peris (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)  email
Miquel Domènech (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)  email
Marta Díaz-Boladeras (Technical University of Catalonia)  email

Short Abstract

This presentation explores some of the complexities that have emerged during our experience in a participatory design process with children to develop a social robot. We offer an analytical framework to understand care and materiality emerged as determinat factors in our collaborative endeavour.

Long Abstract

Through the involvement of various actors and expertise, one of the aims of participatory design (PD) is a greater democratization of technological innovation. In this presentation, however, we explore some of the limits of PD regarding this desire of deeper democratization. We focus on some issues that have appeared along our experience in a PD process with children to develop a social robot designed for hospitalized children.

Beyond the complexities related to the methodology of the process, not few nor irrelevant, this presentation explores a kind of epistemological complexities that emerged during the PD and constrained the process. Specifically we discuss on how the participation of different actors, the implementation of objectives and the development of prototypes have been constrained by the epistemic cultures involved in the process. The relationship constellations among the different involved actors have created certain constrains and weaknesses that we want to explore here. Likewise, with this exercise we want to do a reflection about the challenges in deepening democratic procedures of technological innovation through participatory mechanisms.

Ethical, moral and legal concerns when developing social robots for care

Authors: Rodrigo de Oliveira Machado (Autonomous University of Barcelona)  email
Jordi Albo-Canals  email

Short Abstract

The increasing presence of robots in society has taken debates around makes the general society and specifically fields of knowledge asking more about the ethics terms involved in that construction. How the field of STS can collaborate with that discussion?

Long Abstract

The expansion of the robotics field leads to an increase of robots presence in people's lives. Imagining scenarios around the effects of robot's presence in society has left to be a topic just for science fiction books and movies. It is not uncommon nowadays to find interesting debates inside academic and social institutions that take into consideration the need to discuss about the ethical and legal implications of robotics. Several topics are produced in these legal and ethical debates but here we are interested in two specific dimensions that affect robots production: how ethical principles are built into the robot and what legal framework is needed? The purpose of this paper is to discuss what are the theoretical contributions that STS can provide to these inquiries stemming from the human-computer interaction area when developing such robots. Few questions serve as guides to deepen our proposal: Does conducting work together between engineers, social scientists and medical staff make possible to build a common ethical path? How ethics is linked to methodologies adopted for the design of robots? Is it possible to coexist different ethical considerations in the same project? What legal concerns appear in the development of robots?

Participatory Design in school: how children, engineers and social scientist collaborate.

Authors: Mireia Faucha (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)  email
Olga Sans  email

Short Abstract

Children, engineers, designers, medical staff and social scientists have taken part in a Participatory Design process of social robots for a children's hospital. This presentation reflects critically on the complexities, the limits and possibilities this kind of methodology offers.

Long Abstract

Nowadays, one of the central debates in design and STS fields is how to make experts sharing the leading role during a design process. In the last decades, we have witnessed a growing concern about the way users can be incorporated into the design process. There are several methodological proposes that seek to achieve this objective, such as User Centred Design, Co-Desing, or Participatory Design. Following this trend, a group of children, engineers, designers, medical staff and social scientists have taken part in a Participatory Design process of social robots for a children's hospital. Over five months, we have collaborated in the design of a prototype that must serve as a guide for the production of the final robot. This presentation explores the complexities of this methodology based on our experience. Once the project is finished, we haven't answered many questions; on the contrary, we have new issues and questions that lead us to think critically on our own process. What role should play each participant? How can different expertise be articulated throughout the process? Which moments or stages each actress has to be involved in? Finally, our aim is to share these concerns and explore the limits and possibilities this kind of methodology offers.

Social robots in hospitals: extending care visions

Authors: Guillem Palà (Autonomous University of Barcelona)  email
Cecilio Angulo (Technical University of Catalonia (UPC))  email
Alex Barco (La Salle - Universitat Ramon Llull)  email
Miguel Garcia Fernandez (Saint John of God Hospital)  email

Short Abstract

The inclusion of social robots in hospitals opens new care meanings, extending it from human-centred visions to material related ones. A multidisciplinary group will be joined not only for defending their own vision of that switch but to weave hybrid argumentations.

Long Abstract

The question concerning care meaning is not new. Nevertheless, strongly influenced by feminist perspectives, several approaches have been carried out recently inside STS that try to overflow a human-centred vision of care. One of the most interesting contributions of such approaches has been to focus on the materiality of care. That is, the exploration of how human and non-human actors become assembled to allow concrete care practices. Leaving aside classical dichotomizing categories to classify care, those analyses make a symmetrical account of it based on alternative issues such as fragility or maintenance. In that vein, the inclusion of social robots in a hospital context appears as a triggering case to develop a reflection on innovative care assemblages and processes. Moreover, it allows the emergence of deep discussions concerning the role of technologies as agents of care. We are going to show at this presentation how the notion of care, with the inclusion of social robots, is being extended from different understandings. A multidisciplinary group will be joined not only for defending their own vision on the issue but to weave some hybrid argumentations on how care considerations have been switched and extended.

This track is closed to new paper proposals.