On humanoids, avatars and the rest of us: gender and designing our new others

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Human-like robots are still relatively simple technological devices. However, the ambitions and imaginaries, as well as the economy, feeding the production of robots point in directions, which scope and character are hard to determine. Designers, researchers, politicians and different kinds of users agree that these technological devices will become an inevitable part of our future communities. What will this development come to mean for human beings and for their social and subjective becoming? What will it affect considering human building of communities? This article will reflect upon the attempted technological imitations of the human and look into the “claims about humanness that they corporealise”, (Suchman 2011: 121). Ambitions and imaginaries in relation such an imitation can be traced in different dimensions of human endeavors. We find them in the products designed and realized by robot companies; in the video games featuring avatars, which again intertwine the imaginaries and conceptualizations of humans and their humanoid designs; and in the imaginaries, ambitions and ideas in fiction, not least in science fiction, which for years has inspired robot designers. I will bring examples from all three areas into my reflections. The focus is in particular directed to the norms, hopes, and ideas about the human, which are built into these products and representations, and which not only form a range of claims about humanness, but also influence human social and subjective becoming. More specifically, I look into the gendered version of these norms, hopes and ideas.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesigning robots, designing humans
EditorsCathrine Hasse, Dorte Marie Søndergaard
Place of publicationAbingdon
Publication yearAug 2019
ISBN (print)978-0-415-78656-0, 9780415786577
ISBN (Electronic)9780415786560
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

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