Should We Program Robotic Emotions from the Gender Perspective?

Should We Program Robotic Emotions from the Gender Perspective?

Mercedes García-Ordaz (University of Huelva, Huelva, Spain), Rocío Carrasco-Carrasco (University of Huelva, Huelva, Spain) and Francisco José Martínez-López (University of Huelva, Huelva, Spain)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/ijrat.2013010101
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Scientific research on robotic emotions has been increasingly developing for the last few years. It is presumed that in twenty five years’ time there will be robots with emotions capable of taking decisions. Therefore, it is important to determine if people should take into account gender when designing the development of this kind of robotic emotions. Moreover, the authors assume that nowadays there is no intelligence without emotions, which are the ones that ultimately help taking decisions. It is contended here that the emotional elements and features of human reasoning should be taken into account when designing the personality of robots. As has been shown in the last few years, the concept of gender is constructed by socio-cultural factors. Gender perspectives are increasingly being applied to different fields of knowledge. Indeed, and as recent feminist research has highlighted, technology is affected by gender relations. Technology in general has been traditionally considered as a sign of men’s power and masculinity defined in terms of technological capabilities. Nevertheless, current discourses have provided new definitions of technology, of gender identity and of what being human means. In the same way, definitions of gender also change with time, affected by technological developments. The present work aims at demonstrating that the gender perspective is indeed very useful when applied to the field of robotics. Specifically, and when dealing with complex decision-taking, it becomes necessary to analyse which managing activities women can better develop in order to apply them, together with other features, to the design of robotic emotions. The purpose is, then, to propose a robotic model that, after the inclusion of such emotional aspects, breaks with old constrained gender stereotypes and takes a rather liberating view. At the same time, such a proposal should enable researchers to get better results when creating robots capable of managing other robotic teams and taking complex decisions. In short, the authors seek to apply the gender perspective in the analysis of some emotional features to be taken into account before they are applied to the field of robotics.
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2. Background

If we take into account the fact that science, technology and their power connotations over the natural world have always been linked to the masculine sphere, women’s recent closeness to technology has meant a challenge which should overcome traditional images of physical aspects to deepen into complex psychological aspects.

In this sense, every robot considered as female means a rupture with the masculine control of technology. This same violation of traditional patterns is also at work in all those virtual representations of the feminine, as can be seen in the popular science-fiction film The Matrix (1999) which shows virtually constructed women, as in the case of Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss). Paradoxically, most feminist scholars dealing with science fiction agree in affirming that even these totally created bodies contribute to the reproduction of traditional gender stereotypes, especially in terms of behaviour. In addition, new media theories provide evidence of the impossibility of totally transcending the body in cyberspace, which further supports the idea about the importance of the material body, not only as an analytical tool, but also as a reminder that we need to find new forms of, using Braidotti’s words, “reembodiment” (2012: 61).

Yet, within the academic scope, only a few works have considered these issues from the robotic perspective. Donna Haraway, in her famous “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist- Feminist in the Late Twentieth Century” (1985), already dealt with the cyborg image and regarded it not only as a created being but also as a “creature of social reality”, although she did not consider it from the strictly robotic perspective. More specifically, we should mention the works by Winslow Burleson and Rosalind Picard (2007), alma mater of affective computing, which is a branch of artificial intelligence that deals with the design of systems and devices that are able to recognise, interpret and deal with emotions. This is an interdisciplinary field that includes computing, psychology and cognitive science.

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