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Androids, Cyborgs, and Robots in Contemporary Culture and Society


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Mankind’s dependence on artificial intelligence and robotics is increasing rapidly as technology becomes more advanced. Finding a way to seamlessly intertwine these two worlds will help boost productivity in society and aid in a variety of ways in modern civilization. Androids, Cyborgs, and Robots in Contemporary Culture and Society is an essential scholarly resource that delves into the current issues, methodologies, and trends relating to advanced robotic technology in the modern world. Featuring relevant topics that include STEM technologies, brain-controlled androids, biped robots, and media perception, this publication is ideal for engineers, academicians, students, and researchers that would like to stay current with the latest developments in the world of evolving robotics.
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Editorial Advisory Board
Dev Bose, University of Arizona, USA
Joanna Kulesza, University of Lödz, Poland
Claudio Urrea, Universidad de Santiago, Chile
Janice Walker, Georgia Southern University, USA
Samuel Wilson, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
Jihan Yoo, Independent Researcher, USA
List of Reviewers
Tawanda Mushiri, University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
Diana Nastasia, Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, USA
Christian Penaloza, Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International,
Nathan Riggs, Clemson University, USA
Kalaivanan Sandamurthy, Pondicherry Engineering College, India
Roger Søraa, Norway Institute of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway
Marko Wehle, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany
Table of Contents
Foreword ............................................................................................................. xii
Preface ...............................................................................................................xxii
Chapter 1
Giving Robots a Voice: Testimony, Intentionality, and the Law ...........................1
Billy Wheeler, University College London, UK
Chapter 2
Girls Building Androids and Robots: Equality in STEM With the Media
Program Annedroids .............................................................................................35
Maya Götz, International Central Institute for Youth and Educational
Television (IZI), Germany
Diana Iulia Nastasia, Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, USA
J. J. Johnson, Sinking Ship Entertainment, Canada
Chapter 3
Are You Really a Child? Androids and Cyborgs in Japanese Comics and
Animations ...........................................................................................................65
Natalia Dmitruk, University of Wrocław, Poland
Chapter 4
Mecha-Media: How Are Androids, Cyborgs, and Robots Presented and
Received Through the Media? .............................................................................96
Roger Andre Søraa, NTNU Norwegian University of Science and
Technology, Norway
Chapter 5
Mechanology, Mindstorms, and the Genesis of Robots.....................................120
Chris Chesher, University of Sydney, Australia
Chapter 6
Cyborgization: Pros and Cons ...........................................................................138
Liudmila Vladimirovna Baeva, Astrakhan State University, Russia &
Saint Petersburg State University, Russia
Chapter 7
Could Robots Feel Pain? How Can We Know? .................................................151
Bruce MacLennan, University of Tennessee, USA
Chapter 8
Graphical User Interface for the Control of a Biped Robot ...............................176
Claudio Urrea, Universidad de Santiago, Chile
Carlos Cortés Mac-Evoy, Bertrand AG, Germany & Volkswagen AG,
Related References ........................................................................................... 190
Compilation of References .............................................................................. 228
About the Contributors ................................................................................... 281
Index .................................................................................................................. 285
Detailed Table of Contents
Foreword ............................................................................................................. xii
Preface ............................................................................................................... xxii
Chapter 1
Giving Robots a Voice: Testimony, Intentionality, and the Law ...........................1
Billy Wheeler, University College London, UK
Humans are becoming increasingly dependent on the ‘say-so’ of machines, such as
computers, smartphones, and robots. In epistemology, knowledge based on what you
have been told is called ‘testimony’ and being able to give and receive testimony is a
prerequisite for engaging in many social roles. Should robots and other autonomous
intelligent machines be considered epistemic testifiers akin to those of humans?
This chapter attempts to answer this question as well as explore the implications
of robot testimony for the criminal justice system. Few are in agreement as to the
‘types’ of agents that can provide testimony. The chapter surveys three well-known
approaches and shows that on two of these approaches being able to provide testimony
is bound up with the possession of intentional mental states. Through a discussion
of computational and folk-psychological approaches to intentionality, it is argued
that a good case can be made for robots fulfilling all three definitions.
Chapter 2
Girls Building Androids and Robots: Equality in STEM With the Media
Program Annedroids .............................................................................................35
Maya Götz, International Central Institute for Youth and Educational
Television (IZI), Germany
Diana Iulia Nastasia, Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, USA
J. J. Johnson, Sinking Ship Entertainment, Canada
There is still a considerable degree of catching up to do in regards to fostering
gender equality within areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and
Math). Children’s leading medium, television, could oer role models of girls with
competence in STEM areas, but unfortunately television programs often miss this
chance. The children’s television series Annedroids is a notable exception. This chapter
provides insight into how children can be educated about gender equality in STEM
with the aid of gender-sensitive media programs such as Annedroids. The chapter
examines data from a reception study which was conducted under the leadership of
the International Central Institute for Youth and Educational Television (IZI) with
6- to 12-year-old children in the United States and Canada (N = 301). The research
is enhanced by a conversation between Dr. Maya Götz, Head of IZI; Dr. Diana
Nastasia, a contributor to the IZI research; and J. J. Johnson, the program’s creator.
Chapter 3
Are You Really a Child? Androids and Cyborgs in Japanese Comics and
Animations ...........................................................................................................65
Natalia Dmitruk, University of Wrocław, Poland
A multitude of genres and types of characters, in Japanese comics and animated
series, suggests many thought-provoking themes; i.e., questions about human
nature. Many artists can see the answers to these questions in artificial humans –
both cyborgs and androids. In this research, the author analyzes Japanese texts of
popular culture in which artificial children are the protagonists of the stories. The
author aims to compare a child figure in sociological discourse, considered there
as vulnerable, to the representations in manga and anime, in which characters are
created as children or technologically-modified prepubescents. In this chapter, the
author presents ideas and culture associations for the concepts of android and cyborg.
The chapter focuses also on analysis of the characters from Japanese comic books
and animations both androids and then cyborgs according to transhumanistic
and posthumanistic theories. The analysis results in a conclusion that a child figure
is dehumanized in the context of cyborg and android child protagonists.
Chapter 4
Mecha-Media: How Are Androids, Cyborgs, and Robots Presented and
Received Through the Media? .............................................................................96
Roger Andre Søraa, NTNU Norwegian University of Science and
Technology, Norway
How are robots, androids and cyborgs presented and received in the media? This
chapter applies a social media analysis to this question by using empirical research
on news stories that feature robotic technologies to see how robots are presented,
consider what reporters focus on when writing about robots, and review how the
public discusses and receives robots. The theoretical framework utilised focuses
on how robot narratives are framed, how robot controversies are presented in
dierent media, and how robots are domesticated through the media. The two main
cases are a “robot hotel” in Japan, and a “killer robot” at a Volkswagen factory in
Germany. News coverage of both stories shows widely diering ways for how the
robot-narrative is framed.
Chapter 5
Mechanology, Mindstorms, and the Genesis of Robots.....................................120
Chris Chesher, University of Sydney, Australia
This chapter examines the emergence of educational robotics, drawing on the
philosophy of technology of Gilbert Simondon. In the 1950s, Simondon argued
that the dominant understandings of technology are personified in the popular
imaginings of the robot. These attitudes are polarised between simple instrumentalism,
and dystopian anxiety about technology overcoming humankind. To improve the
conceptualisation of technics he took an approach called mechanology, developing
a suite of concepts that grasped technology in new ways: technological genesis;
the margin of indetermination; lineages of abstract and concrete technologies; and
the associated milieu. These concepts are useful in understanding the tradition of
educational robotics starting in the 1970s, with Seymour Papert’s ‘turtle’ robot
serving as a resource for learning mathematics. Since the 1980s, LEGO’s Mindstorms
kits have introduced learners and consumers to robotics concepts. Since the 1990s,
theorists of embodied cognition in the 2000s have made use of Mindstorms to draw
attention to the limits of symbolic intelligence.
Chapter 6
Cyborgization: Pros and Cons ...........................................................................138
Liudmila Vladimirovna Baeva, Astrakhan State University, Russia &
Saint Petersburg State University, Russia
The image of the cyborg in modern society is being formed from the standpoint
of modern scientific developments and media culture: the various phenomena of
e-culture. The article presents an overview of current research related to understanding
the nature of cyborgs, a philosophical analysis of the socio-humanitarian aspects
of the process of cyborgization, the arguments pro and contra. The problem of
cyborgization considered in the context of transformation of gender, immortality
and ethics, etc. Special attention is paid to the study of the image of the cyborg in
modern mass culture, from cinema to computer games.
Chapter 7
Could Robots Feel Pain? How Can We Know? .................................................151
Bruce MacLennan, University of Tennessee, USA
This chapter considers the question of whether a robot could feel pain or experience
other emotions and proposes empirical methods for answering this question. After
a review of the biological functions of emotion and pain, the author argues that
autonomous robots have similar functions that need to be fulfilled, which require
systems analogous to emotion and pain. Protophenomenal analysis, which involves
parallel reductions in the phenomenological and neurological domains, is explained
and applied to the “hard problem” of robot emotion and pain. The author outlines
empirical approaches to answering the fundamental questions on which depends
the possibility of robot consciousness in general. The author then explains the
importance of sensors distributed throughout a robot’s body for the emergence of
coherent emotional phenomena in its awareness. Overall, the chapter elucidates the
issue of robot pain and emotion and outlines an approach to resolving it empirically.
Chapter 8
Graphical User Interface for the Control of a Biped Robot ...............................176
Claudio Urrea, Universidad de Santiago, Chile
Carlos Cortés Mac-Evoy, Bertrand AG, Germany & Volkswagen AG,
The design and implementation of a graphical user interface (GUI) for the control and
operation of a biped robot is presented. This GUI allows establishing communication
between the user, the robot and a computer (controller) so that the robot can perform
bipedal walking without the need to introduce commands that are not user-friendly.
The developed graphic interface permits the user to carry out tasks operating on the
robot without having to resort to commands that are not easy to use. This interface
was created using the MATLAB-Simulink software and it presents important
advantages compared to the manual operation of a robot.
Related References ........................................................................................... 190
Compilation of References .............................................................................. 228
About the Contributors ................................................................................... 281
Index .................................................................................................................. 285
Whether made of clay or metal, robots have captured the literary imagination for
centuries. From the golems of Jewish lore to the mechanized toys of Victorian
society to the zippier robotic characters of more recent science fiction, robots have
played a major if ambiguous role as inferior helpmates or overpowering monsters.
As cultural “doubles” to the humans that create them, some basic questions can be
extrapolated. What should robots look like? To what extent are robots like humans?
What characteristics should be built into them? What attributes do they possess by
virtue of being “entities?” If they become sentient (or if they don’t), what “legal
rights” and ethical considerations should be extended to them? These questions
have become even more prominent in the first decades of the twenty-first century,
where automation is common and smart devices—robots of sorts—are ubiquitous
in our daily lives.
The chapters in this book, and the publication of the book itself, are further
indicators on the historical dial of the continuing but now rapidly expanding interest
in, and development of, robots as autonomous beings in contemporary society.
One immediately notes that many of the chapters in this book are concerned with
topics, attributes, and/or relationships generally associated solely with humans:
intentionality, legal and ethical rights, feelings and emotional states, gendering
education, childhood, media presentation, interface, mind, and the (dis)association
of robots with androids and cyborgs. Regarding the latter, for our purposes perhaps
one minor point that may distinguish robots from their alt-species counterparts is
that not only are robots completely mechanical, but they are, at least in the popular
mind, almost always made to look mechanical—as opposed to androids (who are
made to closely cleave to human anatomy and features, and imitate their behavior),
or cyborgs (who are already part human, as well as part machine).
i-Robot [1]
For Nathan Riggs
i like this robot. This robot
has an ethos all its own.
It speaks to us, in the openness
of its parts, in the honesty of its loose
assemblage. Rhetorically it is almost
authentic in its incoherence,
in its semi-arranged collection of objects
hanging and working together, almost
persuasive in its happenstance, its e-mergence,
a (dis)semblance of the human
way that it exists and moves
through the world. I like
this robot. This robot
has an ethos all its own.
Despite the more obvious differences between humans and robots, most of the
chapters in this book, as in science fiction and popular culture generally, seem to
assume some point(s) of similarity between robots and humans, in the questions
the chapters ask and the lines of inquiry they pursue. (Humans have a way of doing
that.) We thus should note here that whether intended or not, the comparison is
ultimately based on the concept of autopoiesis.” As Humberto Maturana and
Francisco Varela, who coined the term, wrote:
An autopoietic machine is a machine organized (defined as a unity) as a network
of processes of production (transformation and destruction) of components which:
(i) through their interactions and transformations continuously regenerate and
realize the network of processes (relations) that produced them; and (ii) constitute
it (the machine) as a concrete unity in space in which they (the components) exist by
specifying the topological domain of its realization as such a network. (1980, p. 78)
Interestingly, in the research in different fields that ensued, autopoiesis (Greek:
auto = “self,” poiesis = “creative”) is meant to apply not only machines (in this case
robots) but also human beings (e.g., in A.I, cognitive science, linguistics; studies of
mind and consciousness; and biological life processes of cells themselves). In research
in both robots and humans, autopoiesis is meant to describe and comprehend the
material functioning of self-organization, self-reproduction, and the self-realization
of meaning, all of which are necessary for existence.
Attachment Function
my attachment function
no longer works—this is how
i used to feel
the attachment function
no longer feels—this is how
i used to work
Autopoiesis, whether accounting for the human mind and consciousness in
mechanical terms, or robots in human terms, is foundational to the many fields
that use it. Yet it is also highly controversial. It is quite plausible to conjecture, for
instance, that autopoiesis is at least to some extent a result of understanding and
describing life metaphorically. One dimension of the study of robots developed
implicitly but usually not covered overtly would be relations between autopoiesis
and metaphor. This is not to suggest that autopoiesis and the fields that have adopted
it are not “real”—not more than their relations in/as language, no more than their
saying. In an equally controversial argument, Richard Boyd (1993) asserts that unlike
“literary metaphors” and “heuristic metaphors,” “theory-constitutive metaphors” in
science (e.g., in cognitive sciences, he argues) may actually lead to causal relations
in the physical world; in these rarer cases, the “open-ended” metaphor (one of the
conditions) becomes the basis of continuing development of knowledge in the field.
On the other hand, “heuristic metaphors,” according to Boyd (1993), like literary
metaphors for logical positivists, lead nowhere, are nonsense (Ayer, 1952).
A.I. Talking
the phone hung up my face.
it’s calling you back
to say goodbye.
If robots are understood, in science as well as in the chapters to follow, in terms
of autopoiesis, the explication of life processes (whether biological or mechanical)
may be understood to be grounded in the metaphors of autopoetics, and autopoetics
to be a new branch of poetics, which of course includes poetry. Robots are poems
written by humans in languages and/as technology, and as Heidegger (1975, 1977)
might point out, are “enframed” but potentially free by virtue of being poems.
Being Robot
we are robots, we
are the ephemeral ones, we
are the expendable ones, we
stand in reserve, waiting, we
are at hand, ready to serve, we
are the useful ones, we
are defining our being, we
we are robots, we
are the permanent ones, we
are the natural ones, we
stand in the Opening
of our Presence, we
shine in our own Being, we
are you, and beyond this world
In fact, just as the Greek word techne means “craft” or “art” but also is the
root of English “technique” and “technology,” both “autopoiesis” and autopoetic
etymologically and philosophically derive from poiesis, which includes poetics as
well as poetry, as “making.” It is thus “natural” that a similarity of affect, values,
perception, and experience would seem inherent in and shared by robots as “poems.
Media Eye
modifies minds
Robots as poems leave may questions for these chapters, and humans, to ask.
For the chapters here must assume some degree of autopoiesis, and thus at some
level concern issues of embodiment, cognition, consciousness. Like poems, robots
are “soft machines” (Porush, 1984) — but robots require a lot more work to realize
their potential as technological entities that are aware, self-sufficient, and integrated
into their human surroundings. That is the work to which these chapters contribute.
Some of the questions asked in these chapters are about whether robots influence
gender identification in education, or feel pain.
A Computer File Named Dorothy1
I dated a file named Dorothy, created
worlds in her name; but needed more space,
new memories to save, new files to live.
(After all, although the universe expands
at astronomic rates, it’s slowing down,
and there is only so much space inside machines).
“Destroy Dorothy: Confirm,” the computer responded.
But what if she should die? I thought, and asked
aloud; what if when I push this button
she should really disappear
from the disc of the earth, constantly rotated, read
in this dark machine drive of the universe?
What if this cold, dumb, personal computer
should read and wholly misunderstand, and take me
literally, as impersonal as itself, and her atoms
be scattered through magnetic fields, dispersed
along the wires, and she should vanish mid the glitch
and circuitry of stars, drive lights red
shifting, every trace (of her) erased
forever. “Destroy Dorothy: Confirm,” it repeated,
blindly blinking. Destroy Dorothy? I needed
more space, new memories to save,
new files to live. But Oh I
could not confirm it could not confirm it....
Other ancillary questions are whether robots would ever experience lust, or feel
love? These are not silly questions, for the ability of robots to handle sexual urges,
possess empathy, or feel love, may be essential in the development of ethical values
and systems for robots in relation to each other, and to us.
The Beautiful Robot Who Stole My Heart and Parts2
He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water -E. E. Cummings, Next to of course
god America, 1994
“Everyone desires a beautiful robot
to love as themselves--something
in bronze, perhaps, a strong bionic blonde
lying on her side, powerful tan thigh
gleaming in the sunlight, hot wet alloy
glistening in the grass, catching the eye,
her hard body pulsing electric desire,
her lights blinking her come on, her for-hire.
To simply jackup the swivel hips
and secure the leather straps, to insert it
in the lovebox that hums, waiting only for you,
to adjust the tension knobs and push the button,
the pelvis slowly rotating on its axle,
the chassis moving up and down, the gears
squeezing, grinding out raw love, a dear,
so chilly, so sore, so beautiful, a real
convenience, lightweight, portable, easy, efficient;
no attachments necessary, no maintenance required.
No? Then something in silver today?”
A big question from the point of view of autopoiesis, as well as perhaps a
deeply embedded assumption in chapters in this book, is whether and/or how robots
“reproduce” (in their genesis; in graphic interfaces). From a “poetic” perspective,
another way of asking this question is whether robots can write themselves? Certainly,
their programming as “procedural rhetoric” (Bogost, 2007), if not traditional poetics,
are also prosodic forms, a kind of technical poetry that Walter Benjamin (2008, p.
172) predicted. We know that computer robots like Racter (1984) can write their own
poetry when they are properly programmed with a lexicon, syntax, and otherwise
linguistic indeterminacy (this puts one in mind of the use of imitation in the Turning
Test to create the simulacrum of human-like interaction). But systems seemingly
approaching the ideal of autopoiesis, such as Google’s facial recognition or IBM’s
Watson based on cognitive computing, interact and learn. Researchers are working
hard to exceed limitations—by probing the kinds of issues in the chapters of this
book; but robots are still in their infancy.
S.O.S. …---… To Any Robots in the Vicinity
infantile device,
primitive metal,
analogue box
trying to commun-
icate with other inhab-
itants that live on this flat plane,
spread out across the table
made of pine boards
and old logs buzzing
in the fireplace—
first the flashlight,
then landline, camera,
iPod, iPhone, TV,
even the wrist watch
some owner has taken off
and laid down haplessly,
activated, buzzing—
the old player, joy stick,
sending and resending
the only simple signals
it knows in distress,
S.O.S., S…
trying to catch-up,
trying to connect,
lonely, surrounded by
intelligent devices,
but merely magnetic,
buzzing, buzzing
the only language it knows,
its messages of love
never received, answered
Whether robots can meet the ideals of autopoiesis, including mechanical
reproduction, whether they can write themselves as poems, the chapters in this
book egg us on to continue asking the necessary preliminary questions. In their
content, the authors may not only assume the metaphors and relations embedded
in the etymology of autopoiesis, but go beyond them, to develop new metaphors,
questions, and insights; the scholarship, research, science, technology, to write
and implement new poems, science—the sign and “duty” of every good theory-
constitutive metaphor, of every good poem. The hope is that the fullest meaning
of the term autopoiesis—including its etymology and usage as both poetic and
scientific metaphor, in human as well as mechanical terms—will be recognized
and remembered. The chapters in this book go a long way toward what some may
consider our only hope for survival with man-machines.
i-Robot [2]
For Nathan Riggs
I recognize the mind
of this robot. It sees
what I see; it gets what I
get; it wants what I
want: the creative poet
making, the technical skill behind
it, combined in it, emerging in
and through it, in every connection,
in every bolt and wrapped wire.
Rhetorically, I see what it sees; I
get what it gets; I want what it
wants. I recognize the mind
in, behind this robot: it is mine.
Steven B. Katz
Clemson University, USA
Steven B. Katz is the R. Roy and Marnie Pearce Professor of Professional Communication, and a
Fellow of the Rutland Institute for Ethics, at Clemson University, where he is co-founder of the Writing
in the Disciplines Initiative. Dr. Katz is Associate Editor-Poetry of Survive and Thrive: A Journal of
Medical Humanities and Narrative as Medicine. He earned a Ph.D. in Communication and Rhetoric
at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His publication includes books, articles, and poems on rhetoric
and poetics, scientific communication, and the ethics of technology.
Ayer, A. J. (1952). Language, truth and logic (2nd ed.). New York: Dover.
Benjamin, W. (2008). Attested author. In M. Jennings, W. B. Doherty, & T. Y. Levin
(Eds.), The work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility and other
writings on media (pp. 171–172). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Bogost, I. (2007). Persuasive games: The expre s sive power of videoga m e s. Cambridge,
MA: MIT Press.
Boyd, R. (1993). Metaphor and theory change: What is ‘metaphor’ a metaphor for?
In A. Ortony (Ed.), Metaphor and thought (2nd ed., pp. 481–532). Cambridge, UK:
Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139173865.023
Cummings, e. (1994). Next to of course god America. 100 selected poems (p. 31).
New York: Grove.
Heidegger, M. (1975). What are poets for. In Poetry, language, thought (pp. 87–142).
N.Y.: Harper Collins.
Heidegger, M. (1977). The question concerning technology. In The question
concerning technology and other essays (W. Lovitt, Trans., pp. 3–35). New York:
Harper and Row.
Katz, S. B. (1991). A computer file named Alison. Postmodern Culture, 1(3).
Retrieved May 29, 2017 from
Katz, S. B. (2004). The beautiful machine. Star*line: Science fiction poetry
association, 27(1), 15.
Maturana, H., & Varela, F. (2012). Autopoiesis and cognition: The realization of the
living. Springer Science and Business Media. Retrieved from
Porush, D. (1984). The soft machine: Cybernetic fiction. London: Methuen Young
Racter. (1984). The policeman’s beard is half constructed: Computer prose and
poetry by Racter. New York: Warner.
1 Revised from original publication of Katz, S. B. (1991). A computer file named
Alison. Postmodern culture 1, No. 3. Retrieved May 29, 2017 from http://muse.
2 Revised from original publication of Katz, S. B. (2004). The beautiful machine.
Star*line: Science fiction poetry association 27:1 (Jan/Feb), 15.
Someday soon you may see a cyborg rolling down the street. And that person may be
stronger and faster and almost definitely smarter than you. -Dan Robitzski, Inverse
Since the dawn of time, humans have mechanized their technological instruments,
while existing technological devices - simple as rudimentary tools - were ergonomically
implemented for their greatest human utilization. Through this synthesis, the two
become one. So what can be said about this revolutionary merger between man and
machine, or machine and man, as both entities start to strive to exist ‘equally’ in the
21st century, that would warrant our utmost attention?
Androids, cyborgs, and robots each bring their own controversy to any conversation
or discourse about the future of man and machines. This book was spawned by prior
research, and publication by IGI of my edited volume on human enhancement. Global
Issues and Ethical Considerations in Human Enhancement Technologies referenced
human enhancement at times that included serious man-machine mergers and the
ethics involved. It is only fitting that the future would include a volume dedicated
to man-machines and where we are at with this hybrid species today.
Humans are becoming machines as well as machines are becoming humans.
The humanoid form lends itself to androids, cyborgs, and robots like no other joint
transference. Yet, these three forms, while inter-related, are necessarily distinct.
And, for the sake of argument and brevity, we can easily come up to simple spec
with their etymology, and even select semantic differences using Brian Stableford’s
(2006) encyclopedia, Science Fact and Science Fiction:
A term originated in alchemical literature—rendered “androides” in its first traceable
appearance in English in 1727—with reference to rumoured attempts to create
“homunculi” by such alleged practitioners as Albert Magnus and Paracelsus. The
notion is sometimes traced back by historians to Jewish legends of golems—a link
explicitly acknowledged in stories of roughly hewn powerful androids with low
intelligence, such as those featured in David Brin’s Kiln People (2002, p. 22).
A contraction of “cybernetic organism”, contrived to describe products of organic/
inorganic chimerisation, particularly the augmentation of the human body with
mechanical devices. Although the notion was not new, it was enthusiastically
updated and popularised by David Rovnik’s As Man Becomes Machine (1971), which
proclaimed the dawn of a new era of “participant evolution”. The popularisation of
the term was continued by Martin Caidin’s Cyborg (1972) and its dramatisation in
the TV series The Six Million Dollar Man (1973-1978), although the latter version
favoured the alternative term “bionic man” (p. 114).
A term coined by Karel Capek in his allegory, R.U.R. (1921), where it describes
the artificial labourers who represent the working class; he derived it from the
Czech robota, meaning forced labour. The label was borrowed by other writers for
application to mechanical humanoids capable of being mistaken for human beings,
that association being firmly cemented by Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis (1926). Its
application to mechanical devices resulted in organic humanoids of the kind described
in R.U.R. being more frequently labeled androids. The term was subsequently
applied in a looser term to industrial machines substituting for human labourers on
automated production lines, especially mechanical arms, and to machines capable
of self-determined locomotion (p. 442).
As evidenced by Stableford’s references, our fascination with artificial humans as
physically extended, mechanized creatures to serve human desires, is malleable. Our
fascination with robots, specifically, is far beyond novelty, as we learn in this book;
especially when looking at their multiple roles in diverse societies around the world.
Dr. Billy Wheeler at University College London kicks off this volume with a look
at robots and their critical, lawful role in courtroom testimony. The reader comes
away from his chapter with a solid understanding of the current state of affairs for
robot testimony today. Another European dedicated to robot study here is Roger
Søraa, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, who looks at media
discourse, bias, and online commentary for select stories and articles on robots as
select case studies into their regional, and cultural, mediated expressions.
Dr. Claudio Urrea of Universidad de Santiago de Chile, and his colleague, Carlos
Cortés Mac-Evoy, help us peer into the inner workings of graphical interfaces for a
biped robot, designed to integrate software with robotic movements. Their backgrounds
in this field are impressive and evident in their scientific collaboration. Russian
professor, Dr. Liudmila Baeva, considers mediated sociological representations for
cyborgs across time and history in her chapter that addresses multiple contingencies
in the process of cyborgization. The internationally collaborative work of Dr. Maya
Götz, Dr. Diana Nastasia, and filmmaker J. J. Johnson, brings important research into
empirical study of today’s youth into the conversation with androids and humanoids
portrayed in Johnson’s media program Annedroids, and their subsequent conversation
on how children relate to gender equality.
Shinto religion adherents in Japan ascribe a ‘nature’ to robots that helps endear
them to the culture, especially the elderly population. They play critical roles in
manga and animation, as Polish researcher Natalia Dmitruk reveals in her chapter,
Are You Really a Child?” while crucial work is underway to explore the option of
applying emotions into robotic constructs, as shared by Dr. Bruce MacLennan in his
chapter, “Could Robots Feel Pain? How Can We Know?” From Australia, we bring
in Chris Chesher and his knack for merging Legos Mindstorms with mechanology
to help us further understand embodied cognition and symbolic intelligence.
The chapters in this book are not imaginary, fantastic research queries; but critical
scientific and humanistic evaluations into the present status of mechanized humanoid
figures in today’s global society, with the fair presumption that tomorrow’s robots
will take care of themselves.
Our human fascination with mechanized humans, or humanized machines, may
not be exceptional in any unique way. Regardless, it is subject to time, place,
and sociocultural interpretation; and, at least since the Industrial Revolution, this
fascination often translates into rhetorical creation, into household products, for
example, symbolically and thematically expressed in commercial and industrial
persuasions (see Figure 1).
Yet, technological advances today are crossing the lines that define what it is
to be human; and, consequently, what it is to be machine. Medical advances over
the past few decades, and into the future, are granting humans increased mobility
and enhanced comfort, while at the same time giving machines autonomy and
responsibility not previously provided to them as mechanical devices. Technologies
continue to raise the bar for what it means to be robotic, beyond automation and
mechanization, almost to a futuristic goal, some perceived gestalt, teasing towards
what Theodore Sturgeon fantasized as More Than Human, though a much more
realistic concept packaging electronics, feelings, reasonings, Internet capacity,
power, parts, and, even prestige into one thematic identifiable collection of robotic
ideas and extensions (see Figure 2).
Figure 1. Robot Star II Vollautomat clockwork camera body, circa 1958
Figure 2. Early Robot Star II Vollautomat camera body, shutter actuator, manual,
and boxes
While androids, cyborgs, and robots are rapidly increasing in numbers in our
world, androids, or human replicants of a sort, and cyborgs, or humans with machine
parts, tend to be proliferating at a quieter, perhaps even private, personal level. But
it’s robots that dominate. Robots are serious business: marrying our kind (Haas,
2017) (see Figure 3); even killing us (Dockterman, 2015a).
Today’s robots have come a long way since their early, rather comedic television
portrayals of the 1960s, with Rosie on The Jetsons cartoon, or the Robot B-9 on
Lost in Space. While certainly intrigued with the popularized television characters
while growing up, personally, I have no unique interest in robots, apart from the
lone Robot industrial camera in my collection (see Figures 1 and 2), nor do I wish
to ever own a personal robot; yet, this does not preclude me from the proposition
that we will all soon be living alongside man-machines. My interests in robotics and
desire for this volume stem from my experience in researching socio-technological
media; i.e., largely, the Internet, as it advances into the domain of the human body.
Since robotic forms or androids are an initial target for this endeavor, and since,
as noted, these creatures are borderline beings about to strategically populate this
human planet, it is only fitting that we look at relevant socio-cultural issues that
arise concerning our forced mutual existence.
These advanced creatures are radically impacting cultures and societies in our
world, and they will only increase in numbers; perhaps, one day, even exponentially,
while actively moving into the near future. They are the collaboration of scientists,
engineers, programmers, designers, and visionaries led by corporations, governments,
and militaries; all of whose motives we would like to believe are seemingly innocent
to the public eye, yet remain highly provocative (see Figure 4).
Figure 3. Zheng Jiajia to “marry” Yingying (Haas, 2017)
Credit: Qiangjing Evening News
Mechanical extensions of mankind are moving into human bodies. Nearly every
human sense or perception can be mimicked mechanically with cameras, haptics,
synthetic skins and other neurobiological constructs. The cumbersome outward
appendages we have acquired and attributed to sensory extension since our beginnings
are disappearing, rendering to the archives of history as new appendages appear on
humanoid forms and grids, advancing the technological prowess and mystique of a
new generation of beings; not yet sentient, that we would know—or sentient, and
quietly waiting for time and humanity to prepare for what may be the inevitable.
Apart from military applications, and much research and development in academic
environs, the pervasiveness of man-machines, primarily robots now, is perhaps no
more readily evident than in Asia. Japan has a special fondness for machines, and
both culturally and ‘spiritually’ sees manmade machines in strong semblance to
natural counterparts. Robots are ‘family members.
While the humanoid robot reigns strongest in expression, and around the globe,
animal robots are anecdotally popping up around the world. The Custom Robotic
Wildlife website claims to be, “Your partner against poaching for over 25 years,”
using robotic deer, bears, and other creatures to fake out poachers. Household
robotic creatures are rapidly leaving the shelves in a vast sea of commercial and
environmental deployments, especially for nursing homes and facilities for the elderly.
Japan was one of the first countries setting the bar for robot companions in animal
form, providing robot companions as company for the elderly who find robotic pets
Figure 4. Screen capture of NASA’s Valkyrie robot (Dockterman, 2015b)
to be endearing, in that odd, mechanical way that rivals natural pets; but, with no real
responsibilities. Yet, elderly robotic pet owners are taking responsibilities seriously
for their ‘lifetimecompanions. As the market extends beyond Japan, robot dogs and
cats are commonly sold commercially online, in drugstores and supermarket retail
outlets. Response is nothing short of stupendous (see Figure 5).
The robot cats, also known as “sensory cats,according to Mary Farkas, Director
of Therapeutic Activities for The Hebrew Home at Riverdale in the Bronx, NYC, are,
“therapeutic, robotic cats that serve as a way to really help people feel good” (Strong,
2017). Farkas says nursing home residents, “are reminded of their ability to take care
of something in the community where they often have to be cared for. They get to be
the caregiver again, and that’s very beautiful to watch” (2017). Customer reviews for
the Joy For All Silver Cat With White Mitts confirm that elderly patrons, especially
those confined to facilities where real animals are not permitted, find themselves
thrilled to receive, and care for, sensory cats. Cats provide companionship, allow
for human touch to receive a response, and emit auditory reactions; at times, loudly,
according to a reviewer; but, still, they pose no imminent threat. As controversy
grows regarding safety of humans in a world of machine creatures, their animal
counterparts for now, seem less menacing.
Serious concerns arise, though, as to who we are, and what we want to be, in this
integration of humans with machines, in proliferation of cyborgs and robots. And
Figure 5. $99.99 Hasbro toy cat also comes in creamy white and orange tabby
(, 2017)
the man-robot connection, noted as positive when it comes to robot pets, is still, at
times, messing with our sacred emotions. Exactly how satisfying can the intimacy
be between a human and a machine, despite the volumes of research and production
merging the two into seamless relationship? A recent episode of Mostly Human
throws down the gauntlet: humans and machines can be in ‘love’ (see Figure 6).
For now, the human must be content for an intimate relationship with a synthetic,
mechanical creation to ‘exist’ solely at the level where any reciprocal love is one-
sided. Yet for how long?
News of robots, and starting to be more frequently, cyborgs, is spread throughout
our daily news. Androids, not so much. This all makes sense. Androids have a tendency
to be more esthetic than functional; they look human and perhaps act so, but they
don’t do too much else right now. Robots, on the other hand, are designed to be
highly productive; they work tasks, as noted earlier it is part of their Czech heritage
or ‘DNA’ as robota to be laborers. Robots can fulfill civic duties more easily than
androids, or even cyborgs, who share multi-faceted human responsibilities beyond
service to another being. While robots are being deployed in situations where humans
lack access, or where efforts are too dangerous to warrant risk of human life, they
can also be part of the neighborhood, even out on patrol (see Figure 7).
Yes, “as technology advances, we need to figure out where it’s going” (Robitzski,
2007). And everybody’s in on it, as in a recent cover story byline for The Economist
1843 Magazine online: “Artificial intelligence is outperforming the human sort in a
Figure 6. Screen capture from “I Love You, Bot” episode visuals (Fink et al., 2017)
growing range of fields…” (Parkin, 2017). A plethora of critical issues are mounting,
regarding ultimate ethics, responsibilities, accountabilities, motives, directives, and
purposes of androids, cyborgs, and robots in our growing contemporary culture and
society, as Parkin continues on AI, “.…but how do we make sure that it behaves
morally?” (2017).
No single volume of text and images could ever attempt to capture in its entirety
even the essence of the breadth of global technological advances taking place
today. This volume does not intend to look specifically at ethics or primary issues
surrounding the integration of men and machines, but it captures select research
moments across the humanities and sciences to provide a taste of the global environ
for androids, cyborgs, and robots. Herein, find a handful of research authors from
nine countries across four continents with express humanistic and scientific projects
related to robotics, their research ranging from robots in our courtrooms to man-
machine media representations, from graphical user interfaces to android gender
roles, from cyborgs in manga and anime to thoughtful questions on robot emotions,
as we all seek to live together, peaceably.
Steven John Thompson
University of Maryland University College, USA
Figure 7. Dubai police robot “can recognise gestures and hand signals” (Zhenglimin,
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These days, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through infrastructure development, puts a particular emphasis, on the one hand, on the need to address current challenges and, on the other hand, on the obligation to focus on individuals’ well-being and communities’ success. Firstly, creating resilient infrastructure calls for the commitment to bring prosperity and stability all around the Globe, while centering on innovative sustainable technologies. Secondly, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization implicates immense efforts to support citizens’ equal and universal access to information, reliable infrastructure, financial services and markets. Thirdly, fostering creativity and encouraging innovation leads to enhanced use of successful scientific research results, while targeting efficient use of resources, clean and environmentally friendly technologies, and sustainable industrial processes. Hence, how can individuals and communities meet future challenges in terms of upgrading the industries and the infrastructure, while focusing on prosperity for all? APA Popescu, C. R. & González, A. L. (2023). Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure Progress Towards the Global Goals: Meeting New Challenges, Upgrading Successful Communities, Creating Stable and Prosperous Societies. In C. Popescu, P. Yu, & Y. Wei (Eds.), Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Through Infrastructure Development (pp. 63-92). IGI Global.
In this article, an important part of Simondon’s philosophy of technology (mainly as it is elaborated in On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects) is presented and situated within a broader context of philosophy of technology and contemporary trends of technological development. The hypothesis suggests that one of the main motives behind such Simondon’s ideas as a reconciliation between culture and technics, the need for mechanology, etc. is to dispel the metaphysical view of autonomous position of technology as uncontrollable destiny in contemporary societies. However, Simondon’s position remains inherently ambivalent here: even though it is culture that should incorporate and govern technology, culture still must accomodate itself to the actual state of technology developed by technicians. A mystifying element in Simondon’s philosophy of technology remains, as the philosopher privileges a technician as being grounded in and having access to the pre-individual state of nature. It is argued that the development of technology should be more democratized and put under rational control of society.
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