Logo Are You A Robot

2021-10-18

Not My Robots!

Arne Maibaum photo

What comes to your mind as soon as you hear the word “robot”? Maybe it’s R2-D2, the Terminator or even our podcast! In this episode, Arne joins us to discuss the complexities around the imagery of robots, and why we are so obsessed with making robots look like humans. Interview with Arne Maibaum, PhD Candidate in Sociology and team member of NotMyRobots. You can follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter

Even though robots are connected to artificial intelligence, AI doesn’t always equate to robots. Yet, the majority of articles, including scientific journals, always have images of robots in them. In our interview, Arne argued that this is an unhealthy representation of AI — could a humanoid robot increase false trust in AI?

Designers seem to love putting a human face on a robot, for example, Pepper the Robot and Sophia. Arne argued that having human aspects on these machines make the technology look more attractive. The same could be said for giving gender-specific names to chatbots, such as Alexa. Arne also observed that the majority of the images show robots having a white casing, with a blue shine around the eyes. ‘Evil’ robots tend to have a darker casing. These racial visualisations of AI reflect social biases and constructs. Therefore, images of AI need to be chosen more responsibly. It makes no sense to use a picture of a robot when discussing different types of algorithms. AI doesn’t always equate to robotics, but what images could we use instead?

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