Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Naming of Robots: biomorphism, gender and identity

draft_The Naming of Robots_Andra Keay

Would a robot by any other name seem the same? Naming a robot categorizes it, creates expectations and triggers social responses. An analysis of robot naming practices in research robot competitions shows a widespread convention of naming with more than 2/3rds of all robots reflecting biomorphic or lifelike non-mechanistic attributes. This will evoke ‘mindless’ or ethopoeic social responses. Preliminary findings are that robot naming in different competitions either replicates human gender stereotypes or is evidence of prosthesis (or projection), the extension of self into the robot. Even robot names that avoid anthropomorphism, gender or animism are subject to version control strategies, highlighting the difficulties that we face with regard to robot identity.

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