Friend or Foe, Master or Servant?

Authored by: Marat Bakpayev

The Routledge Handbook of Digital Consumption

Print publication date:  September  2022
Online publication date:  September  2022

Print ISBN: 9781032329598
eBook ISBN: 9781003317524
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores the conceptual framing of robots. The author unpacks the meaning of these living machines and delves into the reasons for humankind developing such entities. Traditionally, robots are noted to have a physical presence and an anthropomorphic framing. Subsequently, they have appeared in different shapes and forms. The author offers a typology of robots based on their measure of physicality (from physically present to virtual) and on their degree of lifelikeness (from low to high). After looking at robots as tools and servants from a historical perspective, the author examines the present-day anthropomorphic companions and partners. Depending on the context, needs, and objectives, robot developers can determine the specific attributes they require when creating robots, whether non-human, near-human, or human. Looking into the robotic future, the author notes that robots can also progress into having above-human characteristics. Such possibilities introduce various ideological tensions, however. The issues appear centered on the potential of robots to be human masters.

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