From the smartphones in our pockets to life-saving artificially intelligent surgical assistants, robots have become an integral part of our everyday lives. As we enter 2022 and continue to face the progression of the covid pandemic and its accompanying measures, robots as loving companions could offer an optimistic solution to social isolation.
In this issue of Medienkultur A-Z, we explore the theme of robots as loving companions in a post-pandemic world with the Robotics Artist duo Katrin Hochschuh and Adam Donovan, and Kathleen Richardson, Professor of Ethics and Culture of Robots and AI.
To introduce the topic of robots as loving companions, artist Katrin Hochschuh will also provide insight into her personal life: Katrin and her art/life partner Adam Donovan are parents of a 10-month-old child who is growing up surrounded by the self-built, non-anthropromorphic robots – they became some of their son’s first friends! In this discussion with Kathleen Richardson, professor of robot ethics and artificial intelligence, Hochschuh & Donvovan delve into the topic. The three talk about their research, projects and experiences with social robots and address questions from the audience.
Katrin Hochschuh is a media artist with an architectural background in digital design and robotic fabrication. Her artwork connects the digital and the physical realm, exploring robotic behaviours, algorithms and interactivity, always seeing the human, his perception and social implications of technology at the center of her work. Writing her own software allows her to connect deeply with technology and to implement her ideas and concepts without constraints.
Adam Donovan is a hybrid media artist working in the area of science, art and technology. His artwork incorporates nonlinear acoustics, robotic sculpture, game engine environments and camera tracking. Donovan pioneered work into ultrasonics and acoustic beamforming as an artist in residence with Defense Science and Technology Organization (DESTO) in Australia since 2001.
As a duo, Hochschuh and Donovan amplify their strengths of working in software and hardware, combining matter and information in their unexpected artworks. They’re researching and developing their ongoing project Empathy Swarm which premiered as a swarm of 50 robots at QUT Art Museum in Brisbane in 2019. At the intersection of technical and conceptual development, they showed different iterations as Performative Installation at WRO Media Art Biennale 2019 and during Oslo Night 2020 at HEK.
Kathleen Richardson is Professor of Ethics and Culture of Robots and AI at De Montfort University in Leicester (UK) as well as Director of Women Ethics Robots AI and Data. She completed her PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge and is the founding member of «Campaign against Sex Robots» as well as The Fates (The Feminist Academy of Technology and Ethics).
Media Culture A-Z is a series of monthly events that take a closer look at current phenomena in media culture in an informal setting. Experts and artists share information and practical guidance on a wide range of topics of digital culture, enabling participants to gain concrete insights and exchange their own experiences. Media Culture A-Z is aimed at a broad public, from young people, adults and seniors, who are interested in current social issues and would like to deepen their background knowledge of digital practices.