Selling Techno-futurism: Exploring Pepper’s Images and Discourses Taiwanese News Media Make

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10715)

Abstract

Taiwan has many social problems, including a low birthrate and labor shortage. In order to deal with these issues, some people hope that robots may play a robust solution. One of these robots, Pepper, is under the spotlight, because it is a humanoid social robot designed to express and read human emotions. In this context, my question is: what kinds of images of social robots do media construct for the Taiwanese public in order to shape the human-social robot relationships? Through archival research, I divide media treatments of Pepper into five categories: education, promises, reality, problems, and metaphors. News in the education category is fact-telling or educational news. In the promises category, news media not only indicate the Pepper’s functions, abilities, services, but also portray Pepper as a solution for social problems. In the reality category, news media report on Pepper’s functionality and limitations. In the problems category, news media point to problems Pepper might cause, including a higher unemployment rate and reallocation of wealth. In the metaphors category, I consider the metaphors media use to construct particular discourses and images of Pepper, such as a master/slave model power relation and gender. Based on business interests, technological determinism, and techno-optimism, these discourses compose the public imagination of techno-futurism media create. This techno-futurism is telling the Taiwanese people a technological science story about hopes, threats, and relations. Those Pepper images and discourses build the dominating understandings of social robots in Taiwan.

Keywords

Pepper News media Taiwan Social robot 

Notes

Acknowledgement

Thank Anthony Szczurek and Kristen Koopman. Without their help, I could not have finished this paper. I especially thank Dr. Saul Halfon and three anonymous reviewers. Their comments helped me clarify and improve my arguments.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Virginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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