Futures #3 – Jaana Parviainen: AI-driven Social Robots and the Reconfiguration of Interaction

Futures Lecture Series
torsdag, september 19, 2019 - 17:30
Teatterikorkeakoulu, Studio 522

Drawing on phenomenological discussions on embodiment, Jaana Parviainen seeks to answer the question of how the interactive capabilities of robot bodies, in particular their materiality and animate movements, appeal emotionally to human users. Using as an illustrative empirical case a field study on the robot Zora in municipal sheltered homes in Finland, she suggests that the simulation of a “lived body” can be seen as central in understanding the phenomenon of aliveness in social robots.

Jaana Parviainen is a philosopher and university researcher in the Research Center for Knowledge, Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at University of Tampere. She is a pioneer in the phenomenological dance studies in Finland, on which she has published two books Bodies Moving and Moved (Tampere University Press 1998) and Meduusan Liike (Gaudeamus 2006). Her recent research interests include body studies, phenomenology, the philosophy of technology, social epistemology and ignorance studies.

Read more on Parviainen here.

More about the lecture:

Robot experts envision that we are about to witness an explosion in the diversification of social robot figures operated by AI. Social robots are designed as artificial companions that seek to find their ecological niche among laptops, tablets and mobiles in the increasingly competitive market of smart devices. Drawing on phenomenological discussions on embodiment, I will seek to answer the question of how the interactive capabilities of robot bodies, in particular their materiality and animate movements, appeal emotionally to human users. Using as an illustrative empirical case a field study on the robot Zora in municipal sheltered homes in Finland, I suggest that the simulation of a “lived body” can be seen as central in understanding the phenomenon of aliveness in social robots. I analyse the “hybrid robot body” of Zora that include ambivalent features on gender, race and age, and these are not necessarily confusing but attractive from the perspective of elderly people.

Autumn 2019’s Futures lectures:
Sep 12: David Burrows and Simon O’Sullivan
Sep 19: Jaana Parviainen
​Nov 14: André Lepecki


About the Futures Lecture Series:

The Futures Series is organized by the master’s degree programmes in Choreography, Dramaturgy, and the Live Art and Performance Studies in collaboration with the Centre for Joint Studies at Uniarts Helsinki’s Theatre Academy.

The series proposes that we need to regard the future as plural futures. The futures often seem indeterminate or uncanny. It is precisely for this reason that we need to ask whether artistic practice, with its various modes of thought, has the capacity to approach such unforeseen possibilities of the emergent futures. How should we regard these futures, which ought to be an essential part of research in choreography, pedagogy and the performative capacity of art?

To ponder these capacities, we could see how the performative practices produce the visions and emergent futures and prehensions where artistic practices and thinking are not bound with ideologies, mediated truths or preconceived aesthetics. They are necessary alongside with contemporary science and theory, where prehension of futures are transversal and cross-contaminated. The proposal and experiments presented in this series aim to present how we could create space for thinking the indeterminate futures.

Parviainen's lecture is the third one in the Futures Series. The first one was held in spring 2019 with a lecture by Paul O'Neill.

The Futures Lecture Series is part of Visiting Experts Series.