Aliveness and the off-switch in human-robot relations
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If robots are going to share human homes, workplaces and social spaces in the future, how will they communicate with people, and how might this frame people’s perceptions of them? Should a robot’s communication style reinforce the sense in which they seem to be somewhat alive, trustworthy assistants, co-workers or possibly even friends? Is there value in people recognizing and respecting the agency of robots, while also being reminded that even the most personable social robot is a machine that can be switched off? The questions in this list are too complex to answer fully in this short chapter. Its aim, instead, is to offer a starting point for discussing such questions: to demonstrate how a detailed analysis of people’s communication with and about robots from a number of communication theoretical perspectives is a productive way to think through the deployment of robots into everyday life.
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