Impact Of Media On Acceptance Towards Robots Cultural Studies Essay

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Identify the main thesis or topic of your paper

Nowadays robots are occasionally featured in movies, TV series, shows or cartoons. The theme of robotics continues to fascinate science fiction and thus it is believed that science fiction propagate the views of robots in general. Hence my question is can robot designers seek help from robot-related media?

Throughout history and popular culture, robots have reflected the mood, social and cultural issues, and technology of their times. For example, in the Cold War 1950s, robots were generally viewed as threatening forces, but in later years reflected both the conflict and the continuity between man and machine. Robots have also functioned as both servant-helpers and oppressors of humanity, portraying the good and evil sides.

2) Provide a rationale for why this is a good thing to study or write about

Most people have never seen a robot before. Their experiences all come from movies or literature. That affects the way people react to real robots. People have a theory in their head about how something will behave, and if a robot doesn't fit with that theory, people may get nervous.

People's previous experience with robotic technologies is very limited, so we expect them to strongly leverage media as an important source of information. This includes classic science-fiction-like literature, movies, and television, as well as more modern and fact-oriented news sources. Designing robots around media trends can be an important aspect of acceptance.

Watching media like movies and television has become a stable part of certain lifestyles and outlooks. The content shapes, promotes and dominates their sources of information, continued exposure to its messages is likely to reiterate, confirm, and nourish (i.e., cultivate) their values and perspectives.

The social understanding of a robot has not yet reached a consensus.

I somehow believe that there are lessons and information transmitted to audiences that would affect how audiences would view robotic design.

Due to the impact of unrealistically human-like robots in movies and books, people do not really know what they are.

C-3PO in Star Wars is very humanlike, intelligent and capable, but real robots are not like that at all. Instead of just forcing people to alter their expectations, I believe that it makes sense to study how people's ideas about robots are influenced by fiction. That knowledge could be used to design robots that make the most of those expectations.

It would be worthwhile to study the way computer animators make us connect with simple, non-human objects. Pixar's Wall-E, for example, is easy to connect with.

3) Provide a brief description of two or three conceptual issues your paper will address

From the manner how robots are depicted in movies and how robots are being design, we could identify if there are possible gaps between human aspirations and the achievable reality.

There are the unknowns in the equation that makes the future exciting, and possibly a bit scary - they blur the lines between science and philosophy. Since we do not understand the basis for human consciousness yet, how can we create it in machines?

A potential danger with designing robots that mimic human social mechanisms is eeriness or creepiness. Mori's uncanny valley is one theory that tries to explain how certain robots can elicit a negative, uncanny, or eerie feeling in people.

And this paper would attempt to find out exactly how fictional robots influences on people can help engineers build real ones.

Robotic characters were often created, in part, as a way to probe and examine prototypical humans endowed with anthropomorphic (but artificial) intelligence or characteristics, or to express fears that humans could be replaced or displaced by robots that mimic human qualities.

People around the world have different levels of exposure to robots because of their personal experiences and what is covered in the media. The structure of a country's economy, its technological development, national funding priorities, and the historical and religious context affect the social and cultural significance of robots, and these factors in turn shape individual attitudes.

I would attempt to utilize and applying communication theories that I have learnt in class to see what factors would influence how people would perceive interacting with robots.

The paper will also look into social-psychology behavioral and decision-making models that could be applied to how people would perceive accepting robots in their lives.

Example of movies

The first movie ever to feature a robot was George Mélierès "The Clown and the Automaton" in 1897.

After that movies like "Metropolis" (Maria the robot) and "Frankenstein" from the early days of Science Fiction until our days with movies like "2001" (HAL), "StarWars" (R2-D2 and C-3PO), "Bladerunner", "Terminator", "Aliens" have all featured robots.

The first movie to achieve popularity in which a robot is featured in "Forbidden Planet" which was released in 1956. Forbidden Planet is a landmark work in the Science Fiction genre.

An example of Robots featured on Television is the Jetson series.

The Jetson is a family consisting of parents and children but also friendly machines in their home and "Rosie the robot maid" who is "always ready with a sarcastic comment, broom or dustpan".


People are born into a symbolic environment with television as its mainstream.

It links the individual to a larger if synthetic world, a world of television's own making.

Views on robots

It is surprising how often people make nervous jokes about robots taking over the world.

All robot researchers have experienced the way that people's behaviour towards robots is influenced by their experiences with science fiction.

Attempting to come up with robot design ideas based on studying that sci-fi influence would be an interesting idea, Engineers might learn from fictional robots in other ways.

There are precedents for roboticists working with Hollywood.

The expressive eyes of the ground-breaking MIT robot Kismet, with a face designed to express emotions, came from a Hollywood effects company.

Throughout cinematic history, especially in science-fiction tales, robots have always played a primary role.

Czech playwright Karel Capek coined the term 'robot' in post-WWI 1920 in his play R.U.R. (for Rossum's Universal Robots) that was first performed in Prague in 1921.

It was taken from the Czech word 'robota' meaning work, to describe humanoid androids designed for menial and repetitive labor.

In the play, docile mechanical creatures with human characteristics were produced in Rossum's factory, until one scientist gave them emotions and turned them into killing machines that took over the world.

This paper would also discuss about the findings from a focus group study.

Purpose of conducting the focus group is to solicit feedback from targeted users on their expectations and views on the perceived outlook of robot receptionist.

The study covered the following information areas:

Views and perception of a robot

Impression of a robot receptionist

Concerns, expectations, and preference in terms of:

Overall appearance

Functionalities of the intended robot receptionist

(Ethics and Robotics) - Introduction v

Since the first robots arrived on the stage in the play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universtal Robots) by Karel Capek in 1921.

The play was finished and published in 1920. It premiered in 1921-Kilma, 2004, p.XI) visions of a world inhabited by humans and robots gave rise to countless utopian and dystopian stories, songs, movies and video games.

It is suggested that the idea of robot as an artificial person might sooner or later be seen as pure technostalgia, a term coined by David Bell (2007) to argue in favour of 'cyberspace': It's oddly old-fashioned, antique even, yet there's something wrapped inside it as a word, something belying its roots in science fiction, something even maybe a little bit utopian" (Bell, 2007,)

Of course, we are not even close to the anthropomorphic robots portrayed in movies such as "Robots" (2005) or "Wall-e" (2008).

Depending on the degree of autonomy of such a machine, some will hold the robot itself for being morally responsible for its behaviour and not its designers.

Questions concerning 'robot rights' or 'artificial moral agent' are therefore not key

Pessimism about society's potential to misuse technology is nothing new.

Czeh writer Karel Capek coined the term "robot" in a play he wrote in 1920 called R.U.R. [first performed in 1923].

The play's dark plot revolves around a factory - Rossum's Universal Robots, the R.U.R of the title - that populates the world with artificial slaves, meant to relieve humans of the drudgery of work.

Built in ever-increasing numbers and with expanding intelligence, they soon outnumber their human masters, and then they are used as soldiers.

Eventually, a robot revolt wipes out the human race.

It's interesting that the person who invented the modern concept of robots predicted that they would destroy us all.

Or will mechanical minds start up by themselves when they reach a certain level of complexity? (Is there critical thought, like critical mass?)

And if machine intelligence does jump start.

(see Fig. 3).

Examples of robots that people still find somewhat creepy are the advanced androids CB2 [40] (a baby robot, Fig. 3(a)) and the Repliee series [34].

Generally, this theory proposes that likeness to a human can be directly related to familiarity, where the more human-like a robot is, the more believable and comfortable people find it.

However, as likeness increases there is a breaking point beyond which familiarity drops and robots become eerie.

This dropped level of comfort is called the uncanny valley (Fig. 3(b)).

Mori claims that this eeriness will not be overcome until robots mimic human sociality so well that we do not cue in on the fact that we are interacting with a robot.

Robot is a term currently subject to a large degree of interpretative flexibility, its meaning depending upon context, the people interacting with the robot and the task at hand, rather than according to some universal meaning [45].

While originally robot meant an artificial worker [13], since then development in industrial applications and general automation, science fiction media, as well as science fiction- inspired advanced research has muddled and diversified the meaning. For example, while a toy company may sell an electric, walking toy as a robot, others may argue that it is not a robot due to the lack of intelligence.

The Perception of Factors Affecting Acceptance

As stressed throughout this paper, perception of factors is as meaningful or often even more meaningful to domestic users than the actual facts.

Here we outline some of the key sources and points that influence how people shape their understandings and perceptions of the factors presented in Sect. 5.1.

Previous experience- being a primary source, these include personally-experienced lifetime actions and events as well as personally inferred beliefs, with education and initial exposure being a large component of this factor.

Previous experience with animals and children may be influential here as well.

Given the new and unique nature of robots, a robot can be designed to influence users to draw on particular past experiences as desired by the designer.


Personal social network-Opinions and perspectives offered by friends, neighbors and family have a large influence on how people perceive robots.

Although robots are new and as such the social network itself will be less informed, this will likely be an important factor nonetheless.

Although it is not clear how designers can influence this factor, somehow making a robot conducive to socializing would be helpful here.

Robot design methodology-The design of a technology, its physical appearance, actions, interface, and all other aspects of design, directly influence which previous experiences people use when forming their understanding of a given entity.

To a large degree, this constitutes a consumer epistemology of previous knowledge and experience upon which consumers may develop absorptive capacity as discussed above.

With robots, designers can either leverage or constrain user tendencies to anthropomorphize.

Designers may also use the robot's dynamic physical presence as means to influence perception, for example, by limiting speed or agility in an attempt to convey a harmless or safe robot.

Robots can use human social interaction (gaze, facial expression, physical proximity) in new ways that other, previous technologies are unable to do.

Moreover, eeriness phenomena may also be useful in the design of social robots, for example in order to make domestic users aware of potentially dangerous robots or situations.

Observations in Social Psychology, a Survey

We consider these theories from a human robot interaction perspective with the intent of gaining insight into factors that affect how people see domestic robots.

Rather than presenting each model in full detail, we distill each into simple representations and outline their primary focus, considerations, and perspectives as a way of bringing to light different ways to analyze technology in social contexts.

The Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) [2] assumes that rather than being controlled by capricious sub-conscious forces people are generally rational and leverage information available to them. TRA bases this on observations of both "attitudinal" (i.e., personal) and "normative" (i.e., social) beliefs. Applied to the problem of technology adoption or non-adoption, the attitudinal concerns include opinions of utility, efficiency gains, and how a technology fits into a given lifestyle. The normative beliefs include social views, pressures, expectations, and reactions to adopting a technology.

Perceptions are more important than actual outcomes, and perceptions of outcomes can be more important than the perceptions of the robots themselves. A person may acquire a robot simply because they believe it will have a positive impact (e.g., creating more free time), even if there is little or no actual evidence that it will do so [1]. As key to shaping these beliefs, TRA points to lifetime experiences, and past actions and events. Sometimes beliefs are inferred from other knowledge, some beliefs being dynamic and others static [2].

The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), an extension to TRA, adds an explicit focus on perceived behavioral control and points more to external factors (media, social acceptance, etc. [36]) than to "previous experience" in the TRA model. This focus tries to accommodate the rapid change and perceived complexity of technology, where previous experience may be lacking and users are wary of difficulty of use. A third model, the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) [18], is specifically designed to explain and predict computer use, behavior, and adoption. TAM lacks explicit consideration of social and normative variables and focuses on the perceived ease of use and usefulness of computers, based on external variables, as key to how users form attitudes. This emphasis represents a more narrow (but focused) version of TPB's perceived behavioral control.

These models take varying perspectives to unveiling important and unique characteristics of technology adoption [36]. TRA may not handle problems associated with rapidly-changing technologies, while the focused nature of TAM may restrict the scope of its considerations, for example, if social pressure is part of a person's evaluation of a technology's ease of use. TPB would explicitly consider this in the framework from various viewpoints while TAM would simplify by integrating it with other ease of use concerns. However, the more thorough (and wide) nature of TPB may make it difficult to apply meaningfully across various contexts.

[8] Reeves, B. and Nass, C. 1996. The Media Equation: How People Treat Computers, Video-displayed, and New Media Like Real People and Places. Center for the Study of Language and Information.

In the West the idea of using machines for rote work to free people to engage in creative pursuits may be traced at least to Blaise Pascal's invention of an adding machine in 1642 (Singer et al. 1954).

However, fictionalized accounts of robots have been used to express ambivalence about technological progress, industrialization, and the social dislocations caused by them. Since Capek (1921/2004) first coined the term robot (from Czech robata, meaning serf labor, drudgery) in the 1921 science fiction play R.U.R., robots have frequently been depicted in a negative light.

The scenario in Capek's play of robots bent on revolt or world domination has been echoed in countless films and novels, such as the Hollywood blockbusters Blade Runner, Terminator, and I, Robot.

The stories reveal what happens to society when human motives are allowed to play out without the constraints of nature and morals. Even films presenting robots as heroes, such as Short Circuit and Bicentennial Man, hold up a mirror not so much to the technology as its creator. The very desire to create technology in our own image can reflect human narcissism and hubris (Cooley 2007), which has often been critiqued in the science fiction and horror genres.

In contrast to the popular belief that the Japanese love robots, our results indicate that the Japanese are concerned about the impact robots might have on society and that they are particularly concerned about the emotional aspects of interacting with robots. A possible explanation could relate to their higher exposure to robots in real life, and particularly through the Japanese media. The Japanese could be more aware of robots' abilities and also their shortcomings. (Bartneck et al. 2007, p. 225)

Japanese participants had many more experiences with reading robot-related material, watching robot-related media, having physical contact with robots, attending robot-related events, or building or programming robots than US participants (Table 1).

It appears that different cultures have different levels of exposure to robots through media or through personal experiences. The number of humanoids robots, toy robots, games and TV shows give Japan the leading role in robotic development and culture. However, the typical ''robots will take over the world'' scenario that is so often used in western culture (Cameron 1984; Wachowski and Wachowski 2003) is less prevalent in Japan. In the popular Japanese Manga movies good fights evil just like in the Western world, but the role of the good and the evil is not mapped directly to humans as being the good against robots being the evil. In these movies the good and the evil are distributed. You might have a good robot that fights an evil human villain or a good robot fighting bad robots.

Cameron J (Writer) (1984) The Terminator [DVD]. In: J. Daly (Producer): MGM

Wachowski A, Wachowski L (Writer) (2003) Animatrix