Given the affective psychological and cognitive dynamics prevalent during human–robot-interlocution, the vulnerability to cultural-political influences of the design aesthetics of a social humanoid robot has far-reaching ramifications. Building upon this hypothesis, I explicate the relationship between the structures of the constitution social ontology and computational semiotics, and ventures a theoretical framework which I proposes as a thesis that impels a moral responsibility on engineers of social humanoids. In distilling this thesis, the implications of the intersection between the socio-aesthetics of racialised and genderised humanoids and the phenomenology of human–robot-interaction are illuminated by the figuration of the experience of a typical black rural African woman as the user, that is, an interlocutor with an industry-standard socially-situated humanlike robot. The representation of the gravity of the psycho-existential and socio-political ramifications of such woman’s life with humanoids is abstracted and posited as grounds that illustrate the imperative for roboticists to take socio-ethical considerations seriously in their designs of humanoids.
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The use of and meaning of “culture” implied here transcends the conception of culture as an ethnic practice. It extends to the composite stage of intellectual-epistemological practices and norms of a given society and even a Civilisation.
Ted quim, it is remarkable how the makers of the famed Sophia robot avoided to adorn “her” with hair in order to obviate ethnic connotations, and only did so in a much publicised occasion of the debut of this humanoid on China’s national CTV programme in Beijing in January 2018. See https://chinaplus.cri.cn/photo/china/18/20180115/78288_3.html.
The specificity of the descriptor “on the African continent”, besides being deployed to maximally illustrate the element of global digital disparities, is in part inspired by Atanga (2013).
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Lamola, M.J. An ontic–ontological theory for ethics of designing social robots: a case of Black African women and humanoids. Ethics Inf Technol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10676-020-09529-z
- Computational semiotics
- Robot gender
- Robotic ethics
- Robot race