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What kind of relationship can you have with a social robot?

Roos de Jong talks about speech technology.
Let’s talk about an interesting technological development. Computers are getting better at recognizing, interpreting and producing human speech. Thanks to improvements in speech technology, it is possible to talk to computers and control the digital world with our voice.
You may be familiar with giving verbal instructions to your car or handsfree calling or waking up in the morning with the weather forecast provided by your digital voice assistant. This is cool, but what is happening? The voice acts as a new data source, which can be used to form the basis of analysis. Call logs and audio recordings can contain a lot of information about your identity, the type of conversations we have, and even about our mood and health. Not all analyses, marketed today are scientifically proven, but several companies and organizations are experimenting with it and expect a lot from the future possibilities in health care and the security sector, for instance.
At the moment, smart speakers are predominantly understood as gadgets, but the technology gives rise to various questions about social relationships. The difference between computers and people become blurred and changes social norms. Do we, for instance, want to and should we always know that we are talking to a computer instead of a human being? And do we want voice assistants to discipline and educate us? And would you say it’s problematic if users consider their voice assistants to their best friend?

In this video Vanessa Evers introduces you to social robots. Vanessa Evers is a full professor of Human Media Interaction at the University of Twente and Science Director of the DesignLab at the University of Twente. Her research focuses on Human Interaction with Autonomous Agents such as robots or machine learning systems and cultural aspects of Human Computer Interaction. In this video she explains that social robots are not just instruments that perform specific tasks. Rather, they are mediators of practices.

A museum guide robot is not just a fancy source of information. By helping to shape people’s interactions, and for instance directing people’s attention, it influences the experience of being in a museum. A robot to teach autistic children is not just an interesting addition to a human teacher, but it reorganises the relations between pupil and teacher.

To design robots that work with humans you need to take into account their impact on humans, so this is a question that occupies Vanessa Evers is a very specific way.

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Philosophy of Technology and Design: Shaping the Relations Between Humans and Technologies

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