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I Robot, You Unemployed: Science Fiction and Media Representations of Robotics

Research
Society and economy

The third webinar organized by Managing Digital Transformation at GRI during the spring 2021 is dedicated to robots. Lisa Meinecke, a doctoral candidate at the America Institute of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, will present her recent research about science fiction and media representations of robotics. In her work she highlights the interconnections between science and fiction, as well as to critically frame the narratives of futurity inherent in public discourse about robotics. Welcome to sign up to this open webinar!

Webinar
Date
28 Apr 2021
Time
13:00 - 14:30
Location
Zoom

Participants
Lisa Meinecke, M.A. is a doctoral candidate at the America Institute of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany
Ulla Eriksson-Zetterquist, Professor/Director GRI
Good to know
In English
Organizer
Gothenburg Research Institute på Handelshögskolan vid Göteborgs universitet

Lisa Meinecke about her research:

"There is a considerable discrepancy between the research conducted in robotics labs and the popular imaginations thereof. Popular depictions of robots range from quirky helpers doing menial work to killer machines who are hell-bent on taking your job on their way to destroy the earth and enslave humanity.

However, at this point, non-fictional robots are (for the very most part) non-humanoid industrial robots. The entire field of service robotics is still in a decidedly experimental stage as well. Science communication and news media tend to respond to this discrepancy and obviously insufficient futurity of non-fictional robotics by invoking a sense of simultaneous relief and disappointment: actual robots fail to meet the fears and expectations shaped by science fiction by being clumsy, accident-ridden, and about as futuristic as your average kitchen appliance. 

actual robots fail to meet the fears and expectations shaped by science fiction by being clumsy, accident-ridden, and about as futuristic as your average kitchen appliance

Thus, science fiction and robotics are continuously shaped by interconnected discourses and narratives. On the one hand, science fiction stories have been increasingly referencing non-fictional robotics research (cf. Robot & Frank (2012), Big Hero 6 (2014)). On the other hand, roboticists can use the popular imagination of science fiction as inspiration, for product design, or as discursive framework to talk about their research in a way that is easily understandable for the broader public."

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Lisa Meinecke
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