Humanistic Anthropology of Robots & AI

My research is based on humanistic anthropology and is grounded in an ontological understanding of what it means to be human, and the primary importance of human relationship in our lives. I differentiate my anthropological practices from others in the field that decentre the human subject (ANT, Meshworks, Cyborgs, Multispecies, Material-relations, free market liberalism) who diminish the role of power in the structural organisation of cultures. Hence my work’s principle focus is a study of power, and how power is held over and above others and resistance to it. My research in autism and robots has enabled me to develop a detailed understanding of human sociality. My recent work on sex robots joins up empirical treatment of women in wider society as sex-objects (bodies that can be bought, rented or traded in the sex trade) with the development and production and imagination of sex robots. I principally focus on the issue of power and how it is exercised over women and children. Moreover, my work is about showing how persons are still seen as property, things, and objects, and new debates that promote AI and robots as persons and the ongoing attack on human subjectivity. I maintain in my work a profound ontological difference between persons and things and reject they are equivalent and can be measured in relation to each other. This has important implications for developing a theory of freedom ethics, which is grounded in human subjectivity and relationality. The figure of Spartacus holds an important place in my theorising practices, the rebel slave of ancient Rome. Spartacus demonstrates the importance of resistance to coercion, and inherently people desire to be free. The nature of this freedom is an ongoing discussion. I formulate this principle of freedom as

•All human beings regardless of age, race, ethnicity, gender and class have the right to have their subjectivity recognised, but not at the expense of another through violence, discrimination or coercion’.

In this way, human subjects can hold multiple possibilities, but must gain agreement from others without the threat or use of violence. My work is underscored by a strong commitment to anti-violence and the cultivation of conscious dialogue. Therefore, speech is an important principle as speech holds us together in dialogue.

My research will continue to explore these themes.