Motions with Emotions? : A Phenomenological Approach to Understanding the Simulated Aliveness of a Robot Body
Parviainen, Jaana; Van Aerschot, Lina; Särkikoski, Tuomo; Pekkarinen, Satu; Melkas, Helinä; Hennala, Lea (2019). Motions with Emotions? : A Phenomenological Approach to Understanding the Simulated Aliveness of a Robot Body. Techne: Research in Philosophy and Technology, 23 (3), 318-341. DOI: 10.5840/techne20191126106
Published inTechne: Research in Philosophy and Technology
© Society for Philosophy and Technology, 2019
This article examines how the interactive capabilities of companion robots, particularly their materiality and animate movements, appeal to human users and generate an image of aliveness. Building on Husserl’s phenomenological notion of a ‘double body’ and theories of emotions as affective responses, we develop a new understanding of the robots’ simulated aliveness. Analyzing empirical findings of a field study on the use of the robot Zora in care homes for older people, we suggest that the aliveness of companion robots is the result of a combination of four aspects: 1) material ingredients, 2) morphology, 3) animate movements guided by software programs and human operators as in Wizard of Oz-settings and 4) anthropomorphising narratives created by their users to support the robot’s performance. We suggest that narratives on affective states, such as, sleepiness or becoming frightened attached to the robot trigger users’ empathic feelings, caring and tenderness toward the robot.