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Online Course

Communicating with Robots and Bots

Curtin University via edX

48

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Overview

Although there are some robots you might never get to meet (or might hope you never meet), such as those sent to space, war or rescue situations, many other robots and bots are being developed to populate people’s homes, the online spaces they frequent, their workplaces, and the social spaces they visit.

This course explores how people communicate with robots and bots in everyday life, both now and into the future.

Module 1 discusses the difficulties of defining what a robot is, as well as briefly introducing bots.

Module 2 focuses on bots, chatbots and socialbots in detail, to consider how people communicate with these programs in online spaces, as well as some ethical questions these interactions raise.

Robots in the home are the subject of Module 3, with a discussion of robots designed to act as personal assistants leading into some examples of assistive and care robots, as well as telepresence robots that allow people to interact with one another at a distance through a robot.

Module 4 considers robots at work, from the potential of telepresence robots to enable remote operations, to robots designed to share people’s workspaces, and potentially even take their jobs. One example of a public space where robots might alter people’s working and social lives greatly is on the roads with the development of self-driving vehicles, robots that need to be able to communicate with their passengers as well as with other road users.

Syllabus

Module 1: Robots, bots and communication
  • How robots are presented in popular culture and the media
  • Ways to define a robot
  • Why people build (or don’t build) humanoid or humanlike robots
  • The difference between robots and bots
Module 2: Bots and socialbots
  • What it’s like to interact with some bots
  • How and why bots are designed to be humanlike in order to be ‘socialbots’
  • Broader conceptions of bots and their activities in digital spaces
  • Socialbots and bots as they become more specifically embodied
Module 3: Robots in the home
  • The potential of more sophisticated robots designed to act as personal assistants
  • Robots that do more practical work around the home
  • Assistive and care robots, designed to help older adults and people with disabilities of all ages
  • Telepresence robots that allow people to interact with one another at a distance in more flexible and active ways than teleconferencing technologies such as Skype or Facetime
Module 4: Robots at work and on the road
  • Remote operations as an extension of telepresence
  • Robots at work more generally and the question of whether your job might be at risk
  • The introduction of self-driving and semi-autonomous vehicles onto road systems also populated with human drivers, cyclists and pedestrians
  • How ethics can be built into robots and the importance of ethics for designers and manufacturers of robotic technologies

Taught by

Eleanor Sandry and Gwyneth Peaty

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