Examining the state of robot identity

An AI-generated image of a feminine-looking robot before a vibrant, colorful background.

by Lux Miranda, Ginevra Castellano, and Katie Winkle
Department of Information Technology
Uppsala University, Sweden

Abstract - Human-robot interaction has the power to influence human norms and culture. While there is potential benefit in using this power to create positive social change, so too is there risk in merely reinforcing existing social biases which uphold systems of oppression. As the most salient forms of oppression arise along lines of social identity, it stands to reason that we must take utmost care in leveraging human-like identity cues when designing social robots and other agentic embodiments. Yet, the understanding of how to do this is not well-developed. Towards forming an ethics of robot identity, we begin by surveying the state of thought on the topic in human-robot interaction. We do this by conducting a structured review of HRI conference proceedings analyzed from a feminist, intersectional perspective. Our initial findings suggest that existing literature has not fully engaged with intersectionality, embodies an alarming pathologization of neurodivergence, and almost wholly neglects the examination of race.