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Social Interaction with Non-anthropomorphic Technologies

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Technologies in a Multilingual Environment (PCSF 2022)


The discussion about the special position of robots is often based on their similarity to humans. Our research shows that non-anthropomorphic smart appliances also receive a special regard that is not similar to the attitude to ordinary household appliances. We conducted an ethnographic analysis of 229 cases in which users described online interaction with robot vacuum cleaners, a smart home, a smart refrigerator, and other smart appliances. As a result, the largest number of stories received are devoted to robot vacuum cleaners. These are given names, character is attributed to them and activities described in the context of zoomorphism or anthropomorphism. In our opinion, one of the important reasons for this is the ability of smart technologies to communicate and actively interact. After all, the so-called “desire to establish contact”, along with performing quite complex functions, causes people to empathise and respond. We propose that the most correct way to describe this relationship is in terms of a game. People realise that they are acting within the framework of special fictional conditions that do not correspond to reality but get fun from it. People tend to perceive condescendingly even the mistakes of some robots and are ready to help. Real irritation is caused by cases when technologies claim to manage people’s lives.

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Correspondence to Daria Bylieva .

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Bylieva, D., Nordmann, A., Lobatyuk, V., Nam, T. (2023). Social Interaction with Non-anthropomorphic Technologies. In: Bylieva, D., Nordmann, A. (eds) Technologies in a Multilingual Environment. PCSF 2022. Lecture Notes in Networks and Systems, vol 636. Springer, Cham.

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