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Two ways of co-constructing the user in 
assistive robotics! 
! 
Panel: Health innovation and the grand challenge of agein...
1. What is Social Robotics? 
2. Shift in Discourse and Practice of Assistive Robotics 
3. Co-Constructing Users in Assisti...
1. What is Social Robotics? 
fundamental shift from industrial robots to 
„socially interactive“ robots 
(field of applica...
1. What is Social Robotics? 
! 
socio-technical future discourse: what is 
constructed as desirable and feasible 
! 
chang...
2. Shift in Discourse & Practice 
N. Kroes (2014): 
! 
! 
! 
! 
! 
▪ main instruments: ICT programs in EC’s FP5, FP6, 
FP7...
2. Shift in Discourse & Practice 
“socio-technical future discourses“ (Grunwald 
2012);“sociotechnical imaginaries” (Jasan...
3. Co-Constructing the User in 
Assistive Robotics 
▪ „co-construction“ (Pinch & 
Oudshoorn 2003): questions of 
policy-ma...
3.1 „institutional“ approach 
Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics 
Department of Health 
8 
Protocol 
Care Faci...
3.2 „participatory design“ 
Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics 
6 other project partners 
9 
elderly 
formal 
...
3.3 Comparison 
„institutional“ „participatory“ 
Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics 
10 
research area sociall...
3.3 Comparison 
What are epistemic tools to cope with social 
complexity? 
! 
• ambition: everyday observations, empathy, ...
3.3 Comparison 
How are the users co-constructed? 
! 
„institutional“ 
highly statutorily regulated, total institution, HR...
4. Implications 
! 
socio-technical future discourse: what is cons-tructed 
as desirable and feasible 
! 
change of episte...
Rights & Images 
This presentation is published under CC by-nc-sa 3.0 (legal code) — You 
are free to share (copy and redi...
References 
Böhle, K./Bopp, K., 2014: What a Vision: The Artificial Companion. A Piece of Vision Assessment Including an 
...
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Two Ways of Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics

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Talk held at EASST 2014 Conference, Torun (Poland)
17.09.2014

Several EU funded projects focus on assistive robots as Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) technologies. This field of applied robotics is defined as robots performing physical or "social" tasks for the well-being of persons with disability whether in domestic or care facility contexts. The submission presents two cases of assistive robotic projects out of an ongoing, comparative dissertation project. In both projects researchers deployed assistive robots to elderly, a market-ready solution for the treatment of dementia and a prototype platform for physical assistance at home.

Due to diverging research interest and method set, the projects followed two contrasting ways of integrating the elderly and their needs into the research: A "top down" approach on the organizational level of elderly care and a participatory design approach on the other hand. The submission reconstructs those two tactics from participant observation and expert interviews and focuses on the question, how these different procedures co-construct the user and it's needs. The analysis of the methods and rhetorics observed shows for example how different stake holders of elderly care have to be integrated while the actual users are systematically blanked out. The use of the participatory design approach on the other hand led to an interesting entanglement of community work amongst recruited "expert lay users" and the researchers.

In comparing these tactics the submission seeks to contribute to the question, how research projects on assistive robots as personal health technologies shape elderly and disabled as users in order to make them fit into the needs of there research.

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Two Ways of Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics

  1. 1. Two ways of co-constructing the user in assistive robotics! ! Panel: Health innovation and the grand challenge of ageing: Governing the personal health systems revolution! !! Andreas Bischof, Technische Universität Chemnitz, andreas.bischof@phil.tu-chemnitz.de EASST Conference „Situating Solidarities: Social Challenges for Science and Technology Studies“, 17 - 19th September 2014, Torún, Poland
  2. 2. 1. What is Social Robotics? 2. Shift in Discourse and Practice of Assistive Robotics 3. Co-Constructing Users in Assistive Robotic Projects 3.1.„Institutional“ Approach 3.2.„Participatory Design“ 3.3.Comparison 4. Implications Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics 2
  3. 3. 1. What is Social Robotics? fundamental shift from industrial robots to „socially interactive“ robots (field of application, funding strategies, epistemic culture, scientific field) Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics 3 !!! milestones: - 1997 AAAI Robotics Challenge „Hors d‘Ouvre Anyone?“ - 1998 SAGE deployed in Pittsburgh - 2002 S. Turkle (Turkle 2002: 133): companion metaphor; C. Breazeal (Breazeal 2002) “sociable robots” - 2004 first commercially sold PARO - 2006 first ACM / IEEE conference on „Human Robot Interaction“ Human Robot Interaction Social Robotics
  4. 4. 1. What is Social Robotics? ! socio-technical future discourse: what is constructed as desirable and feasible ! change of epistemic culture: engineers and computer scientist try to make sense about „the social“, users & fields of application ! modeling of (social) behavior: technical trivialization of non-trivial phenomena (v. Foerster 1993) design Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics 4 robot user
  5. 5. 2. Shift in Discourse & Practice N. Kroes (2014): ! ! ! ! ! ▪ main instruments: ICT programs in EC’s FP5, FP6, FP7, already 700 mio € for next program ▪ CORDIS: more than 40 european projects for robots in elder care (more on national base) "Other parts of the world are taking this seriously. The US just launched their National Robotics Initiative; South Korea and Japan are both investing heavily.“ „National Robotics Inititiative“, USA Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics 5
  6. 6. 2. Shift in Discourse & Practice “socio-technical future discourses“ (Grunwald 2012);“sociotechnical imaginaries” (Jasanoff and Kim 2009): attainable futures (feasibility) and futures that ought to be attained (desirability) present at the same time (sensu Böhle/Bopp 2014) Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics 6 desirability feasibility university - industry - government relation without alternative ! investment in competivity long-term goal: „unveiling the secrets“ of biology & psychology + field of application critical attitudes towards automatization vs. improvement each specific context as key condition of success
  7. 7. 3. Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics ▪ „co-construction“ (Pinch & Oudshoorn 2003): questions of policy-making based on usage estimates & the way developers conceptualize users ▪ participant observation & expert interviews in european and american social robotic projects ▪ What are the „detectors“ (Knorr- Cetina 1999) of social robotics? Social scientific evaluation! Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics „epistemic culture“ as theoretical hinge between practice, institutions and discourse 7
  8. 8. 3.1 „institutional“ approach Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics Department of Health 8 Protocol Care Facility Management Doctors Care Givers Custodians Families user test! ! Paro deployed in morning routine, esp. washing! & bathing! !8 0 participants, ABAB, intersubject comparison! !q uestionnaire filled in by care givers ! ! measures: how the care routine of washing went! & indication scale for degree of dementia
  9. 9. 3.2 „participatory design“ Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics 6 other project partners 9 elderly formal caregivers known participants EC 7FP / EC Digital Agenda Work Package Evaluation local participants user test! !l aboratory experiment:! absolving household tasks with the robot! ! close entanglement test leader / participants! ! measure: performance time and acceptance! ! reduced to Likert scale questionnaire in the end Team 2 Scenarios informal caregivers
  10. 10. 3.3 Comparison „institutional“ „participatory“ Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics 10 research area socially (emotional) assistive robotics (socially) assistive robotics aim of robotic platform lift the mood of dementia patients physical assistance in home project form national, third party funded european joint project robotic platform ready made developing prototype project goal improve use case improve platform methodological approach standardized, testing standardized & non-standardized, testing goal and design of user tests systematic control of effects, ABAB-design evaluation by target group laboratory „in the wild“ scenario laboratory
  11. 11. 3.3 Comparison What are epistemic tools to cope with social complexity? ! • ambition: everyday observations, empathy, incorporated knowledge, everyday discussions, involving family and friends, expert knowledge ! • suspension: questionnaires established before the field contact; user tests scheduled by grant application, development & evaluation not congruent for summative evaluation Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics 11
  12. 12. 3.3 Comparison How are the users co-constructed? ! „institutional“ highly statutorily regulated, total institution, HRI part of timed and controlled everyday routine; two types of user: expert end users (nurses) and implicated actors (inmates) ! „participatory“ following the STF discourse; fostering user expectations that are above the constraints of the platform (scenario tailoring); incongruity involvement („expert-lay users“) vs. function of data in project Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics 12
  13. 13. 4. Implications ! socio-technical future discourse: what is cons-tructed as desirable and feasible ! change of epistemic culture: engineers and computer scientist try to make sense about „the social“, users & fields of application ▪ what shapes representation and co-construction of the user: ▪ researcher’s pressure to succeed (evaluate technology positively) ▪ (political) implications of funding (stf-discourse: acceptance) ▪ legitimation of scientificity (cartesian) of engineering & computer science ! ▪ funding / research: reflect upon & integrate „real“ user needs and social complexity of situations of use ! ▪ STS / sociology / HRI: instead reflecting on robot ontology / machine potential of interaction focus on (political) implications of their construction; link discourse / research practice as empirical question Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics 13
  14. 14. Rights & Images This presentation is published under CC by-nc-sa 3.0 (legal code) — You are free to share (copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format) and adapt (remix, transform, and build upon the material) if you give appropriate credit to the author, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original. ! except images: ▪ SAGE (3),Thrun / Nourbahksh, Copyright ▪ MINERVA (4), Schulte / Rosenberg / Thrun, Copyright ▪ NRI (6), Eric/armedrobots, Copyright ▪ Cover Knorr-Cetina (7), suhrkamp, Copyright ▪ Paro (8), Jennifer / flickr, CC by-sa 2.0 ▪ Robot (9), Jiuguang Wang / flickr, CC by-sa 2.0 Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics 14
  15. 15. References Böhle, K./Bopp, K., 2014: What a Vision: The Artificial Companion. A Piece of Vision Assessment Including an Expert Survey. Science, Technology & Innovation Studies. ! ! Goffman E. 196. Asylums. Essays on the Social Situation of Mental patients and Other Inmates! ! Grunwald, A., 2012: Technikzukünfte als Medium von Zukunftsdebatten und Technikgestaltung. Karlsruhe: KIT Scientific Publishing.! ! Jasanoff, S./Sang-Hyun K., 2009: Containing the Atom: Sociotechnical Imaginaries and Nuclear Power in the United States and South Korea. In: Minerva 47, 119-146.! ! Knorr-Cetina, K., 1999: Epistemic Cultures: How the Sciences Make Knowledge. New York: Routledge.! ! Kroess, N., 2014: Lighting a SPARC under our competitive economy. European Commission - SPEECH/14/421, 03/06/2014 ! ! Oudshoorn, N./Pinch, T. (ed), 2003: How Users Matter. The Co-construction of Users and Technology. Massachusetts: MIT Press.! ! Vincze, M./Weiss, A./Lammer, L./Huber, A./Gatterer, G., 2014: On the Discrepancy between Present Service Robots and Older Persons’ Needs. ROMAN Co-Constructing the User in Assistive Robotics 15

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