Putting the social back in social robotics

Much research on the interaction of humans and robots focuses on dydadic interaction, or at best a few humans with one robot. Below a photo from the FRACTOS study where a robot and a virtual tutor create a triad with a child in a learning task on fractions.

Sooraj Krishna, Catherine Pelachaud, and Arvid Kappas. 2020. FRACTOS: Learning to be a Better Learner by Building Fractions. In Companion of the 2020 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI ’20). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 314–316. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/3371382.3378318

In social psychology, much research deals with how groups interact with one another. The us vs them, that is at the heart of much conflict. This is not yet a topic of much social robotics research and theory. However, this is of course a function of the small number of robots in the wild. In a science fiction movie it is easy to have hordes of robots being part of a busy street scene, such as in the classic I, Robot movie. But which research group possesses enough robots to create real groups? Who has interacted with large quantities of robots in their place of work? However, it is only a question of time that robots will cease to be novelties and intergroup psychologiy of mixed human/robot society will be a thing. I am convinced that in this decade it will become important to foreshadow how robots might become part of human groups, or how groups of humans and robots will interact in collaboration or competition.

Some of these issues are dealt with in a recent paper with Eric Vanman.

Abstract

Society’s increasing reliance on robots in everyday life provides exciting opportunities for social psychologists to work with engineers in the nascent field of social robotics. In contrast to industrial robots that, for example, may be used on an assembly line, social robots are designed specifically to interact with humans and/or other robots. People tend to perceive social robots as autonomous and capable of having a mind. As such, they are also more likely to be subject to social categorization by humans. As social robots become more human like, people may also feel greater empathy for them and treat robots more like (human) ingroup members. On the other hand, as they become more human like, robots also challenge our human distinctiveness, threaten our identity, and elicit suspicion about their ability to deceive us with their human‐like qualities. We review relevant research to explore this apparent paradox, particularly from an intergroup relations perspective. We discuss these findings and propose three research questions that we believe social psychologists are ideally suited to address.

Vanman, EJ, Kappas, A. “Danger, Will Robinson!” The challenges of social robots for intergroup relations. Soc Personal Psychol Compass. 2019; 13:e12489. https://doi.org/10.1111/spc3.12489

Looking for a PhD position in psychology/affective computing?

I am looking for candidates with a psychology background for the new ANIMATAS (Advancing human machine interaction with human-like social capabilities for education in schools) project. ANIMATAS (MSCA – ITN – 2017 – 765955 2) is a H2020 Marie Sklodowska Curie European Training Network funded by Horizon 2020 (the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation), coordinated by Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris, France). The person working with me would be based at Jacobs University Bremen. The topic is

Social context effects on expressive behaviour of embodied systems

More here

Please note that ANIMATAS offers in total 15 funded PhD positions and information about all of these, and the instructions for applications can be found here.

IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing Seeks New Editor-in-Chief for 2015-2016 Term

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS/APPLICATIONS FOR EDITOR-IN-CHIEF 

The IEEE Computer Society seeks nominations and applications for the volunteer position of Editor-in-Chief (EIC) for the IEEE Transactions on Aff ective Computing (TAC) serving a two-year term starting 1 January 2015.

IEEE TAC is a cross disciplinary and international archive journal aimed at disseminating results of research on the design of systems that can recognize, interpret, and simulate human emotions and related affective phenomena. The journal publishes original research on the principles and theories explaining why and how affective factors condition interaction between humans and technology, on how affective sensing and simulation techniques can inform our understanding of human affective processes, and on the design, implementation and evaluation of systems that carefully consider affect among the factors that influence their usability.

The EIC will be responsible for the day-to-day volunteer leadership of TAC, including coordinating and overseeing the peer review process; recommending candidates for the editorial board; chairing the editorial board; developing editorial plans for the publication; serving as a non-voting, exofficio member of the Publications Board; serving as a non-voting ex-officio member of the Steering Committee for TAC, and working in general with volunteers and staff to ensure and maintain the timely publication of an exceptionally high-quality transactions.

Applications should include a complete curriculum vita, a brief plan for the future of TAC, and a letter of support from the candidate’s institution or employer. The plan should include (1) the candidate’s perspective on the challenges and opportunities for the enhancement and improvement of the quality of TAC, (2) specific tasks to be undertaken if appointed EIC, (3) objective milestones associated with each task, and (4) a proposed schedule.
The search committee prefers electronic submissions in Microsoft Word or PDF. Please direct all questions and submit completed applications to Kimberly Sperka,

ksperka@computer.org.

The due date for nominations and applications is 7 February 2014.

Additional information about the IEEE Computer Society, the co-sponsoring societies, and the IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing is available at http://www.computer.org and www.computer.org/tac

.