Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationHarvard U.
Grant numberGr. 10151
Approve DateApril 8, 2021
Project TitleSavchenko , Daria (Harvard U.) "The AI—robot apparatus in China: technoscientific practice and the construction of human selfhood"
This inquiry is driven by concerns—or even anxieties—about AI and robots present in public discourse the world over: What is AI and what are the abilities and capacities of robots? How will AI and robots influence society? How will humans change as a result of the increased use of AI and robots? This ethnographic study examines the use of robots powered by some form of AI within the sectors of childhood education, adult companionship, and eldercare, in Shanghai, China’s most technologically and economically developed city. The three sectors echo concerns of the PRC government to produce an educated, high-quality population, manage growing individuation in society, and compensate for lack of caregivers in an increasingly aging population. But these sectors also become crucial spaces where people while interacting with AI-powered robots renegotiate their own identities vis-à-vis their children, their parents, their own selves, and the imagined future.