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Dr. Andrei Korbut

Higher School of Economics (Moscow, Russia)

Public Communication with Anthropomorphic Robots as an Interactional Performance

The project focuses on the public events (TV show appearances, meetings with political leaders, talks at press conferences, etc.) featuring anthropomorphic robots. These events embody expectations, attitudes, and imaginaries of different audiences concerning artificial intelligence, because anthropomorphic robots can easily become an object of cultural projections. To reveal these attitudes and imaginaries, the proposed project will deal with three aspects of such public events. First, the communicative structure of the events will be examined. The analysis will cover the embodied communicative actions of participants, the ways they exchange speech, and their means of overcoming the emerging difficulties. Second, these events will be studied as media displays where background cultural symbols frame a meaningful encounter between audiences and performers. The object of the analysis will be media presentations of the participants (e.g., their look), used media effects (e.g., audience’s laughter), and material and temporal organisation of the setting. Third, comments on social media about these events will be analysed using narrative and discourse analysis. The reactions evident in such online discussions exhibit the ways the public communication with anthropomorphic robots reflects and shapes social imaginaries and everyday anticipations about AI in general. The study of these three aspects will provide insights into public’s underlying assumptions and expectations that determine how the audiences perceive the artificial intelligence and interact with it. The project will describe such public events as “interactional performances,” that is, performances centered around the specifically organised interaction. It will be shown that such interactional performances provide audiences with the tools of converting their hopes and fears concerning artificial intelligence into the real-life communicative actions and guide the human interactions with artificial agents.

Main Research Topic

  • Sociology

Dr. Andrei Korbut

Higher School of Economics (Moscow, Russia)

Fellow at CAIS from April to September 2023