As an anthropologist I study robots in fictions, in science labs, and as therapeutic agents for helping children with autism spectrum conditions develop social skills. I also study robots as historical, cultural and political entities. I am interested in the cultural meanings of the robot as a phenomenological way to reflect on what it means to be a human being and human existence. Therefore I am attached to restoring the original message of the Robot from the 1920s play and not just seeing them as machines. I think much contemporary robotics is an extension of the making of automata. I explore in my work how robots are becoming reimagined as ‘social-workers’ – that is they are imagined to perform in more intimate realms of human social-relationality such as as their therapists, carers, companions and friends. Robots are now imagined as entities to deal with the problems of human isolation, disability and loneliness.
Robotanthropology is a place where I share my reflections on life, existence and what it means to be human. I post information on media interviews and public/academic talks. I like to draw on multiple ways to express my interests in robots and life and matters that are important to me.
If you would like to know more about my academic life, the best place to follow is the link below to the group that I’m a part of.
I am a Professor of Ethics and Culture of Robots and AI at De Montfort University.
I completed my PhD at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge. My fieldwork was an investigation of the making of robots in labs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After my PhD I was a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, a position I held at the University College London. My postdoctoral work was an investigation into the therapeutic uses of robots for children with autism spectrum conditions.
My first manuscript on robots is published by Routledge: An Anthropology of Robots and AI: Annihilation Anxiety and Machines.
My second manuscript explores the role of robots as attachment figures for children with autism and the way in which human attachment (or lack of) shapes consciousness. It is provisionally titled: An Anthropology of Attachment: Autism and Merging Consciousness of the Machine.
I love a cat called The Countessa von Shulberg