Louise Veling

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

National U. of Ireland, Maynooth

Grant number

Gr. 9852

Approve Date

April 29, 2019

Project Title

Veling, Louise (National U. of Ireland, Maynooth) "Producing Humans: An Anthropology of Social and Cognitive Robotics," supervised by Dr. Mark Maguire

LOUISE VELING, then a graduate student at National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland, was awarded a grant in April 2019 to aid research on “Producing Humans: An Anthropology of Social and Cognitive Robotics,” supervised by Dr. Mark Maguire. This research takes an Anthropological perspective on social and cognitive robotics, with a specific focus on humanoid robots. By building and modifying robots, robotics researchers are reflecting, reproducing, and challenging core assumptions about what it means to be human and the nature of intelligence. In the era of the Anthropocene, the need for a critical examination of the relationship between humans and the world is increasingly urgent. Taking the production of human intelligence in robotics research as its core focus, this report focuses on fieldwork undertaken at two US robotics research sites: an extended human-robot interaction study at a retirement community, and a robotics institute at a US university. This study builds on existing studies of AI and Robotics, as well as contributing to, and extending, contemporary debates in posthumanist theory. This is done using core concepts from phenomenological philosophy, particularly emphasizing the body as a site of knowing the world, as well as the Anthropological concept of “the fetish.” Like the fetish, the robot reveals itself to be a material fact, while also acting as a mediator between social realities and personal experience, thus revealing something universal about human entanglements with others and with the world.