Encounters with humanoid robots are new to the everyday experience of children and adults. Yet, increasingly, they are finding their place. This has occurred largely through the introduction of a class of interactive toys (including Furbies, AIBOs, and My Real Babies) that I call relational artifacts. Here, I report on several years of fieldwork with commercial relational artifacts (as well as with the MIT AI Laboratory’s Kismet and Cog). It suggests that even these relatively primitive robots have been accepted as companionate objects and are changing the terms by which people judge the appropriateness of machine relationships. In these relationships, robots serve as powerful objects of psychological projection and philosophical evocation in ways that are forging a nascent robotics culture.
Subjects: 6. Computer-Human Interaction
Submitted: May 19, 2006