Technological Fantasies of Nao: remarks about alterity relations

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This article will through a ‘what-if’ scenario involving the humanoid robot, Nao, as a museum guide, discuss the potential benefits of theorizing social robots through a perspective grounded in critical design and postphenomenology. Within Science and Technology-studies (STS) postphenomenology has been the ‘go-to’ theory when discussing the philosophical aspects of human-technology relations. Postphenomenology directly addresses how humans on a phenomenological level relate to robots through an ‘alterity-relation’ that establishes the robot as a ‘quasi-other’. A methodological discussion of how to conduct
empirical postphenomenological research into robotics, has, however, not been thoroughly unfolded, although the question of a general postphenomenological methodology has been touched upon. This article provides a contribution to the debate on how to enquire into human-robot relations.

In this article we will argue that critical design provides a methodological framework compliant with postphenomenological mode of analysis. Furthermore we will argue that our empirical data is capable of eliciting aspects of how ideological shaped technological fantasies function to sustain the experience of Nao as a ‘quasi-other’, even though Nao fails to function properly.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Issue number29
Pages (from-to)88-103
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2017

ID: 165176410