Skip to Content

Science, Technology, Medicine & Society (STeMS) Fall 2011 Speaker Series presents: "Challenging Sociality? Humanoid Robots and Their Therapeutic Use amongst Children with Autism Spectrum Conditions" by Kathleen Richardson

Monday, November 14, 2011
12:00 AM
1014 Tisch Hall

Social interaction and communication are central features of human sociality, but can machines be social? And what of those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD)? What kinds of lifeworlds emerge for those who struggle to grasp the complexity of social interaction?
Social interaction and communication are central features of human sociality, but can machines be social? And what of those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD)? What kinds of lifeworlds emerge for those who struggle to grasp the complexity of social interaction? How do these different ontologies influence identity, language, and thought? This talk examines the making of therapeutic robots for the treatment of those with ASD. The research is based on fieldwork in laboratories that design and test socially assistive robots and in a school for children with autism spectrum conditions. Do these robotic artefacts and persons suggest a reassessment of the social? I explore how issues of sociality and asociality are addressed and interrogated by roboticists who make therapeutic robots and those with ASD who use and interact with them. About the speaker: Dr. Kathleen Richardson is a Research Fellow at the Department of Anthropology, University College London. Her current research builds on her PhD at the University of Cambridge where she studied the making of robots at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Richardson also writes for the science, technology, and educational media on issues of robotics and social networking.