Afterword: Robot Conceptualizations Between Continuity and Innovation

Leopoldina Fortunati, University of Udine

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The aim of this afterword is to discuss a topic that links all the papers presented in this special issue. This transversal topic is the forms of social robots. Firstly, social robots form is discussed in light of the forms of robotics we have inherited from the past. This includes the models of society that each of them embodied, as well as the social logic of the emotions connected to them. Secondly, social robots form is analyzed in light of the arrival in a new area for robotics, that of robots in the domestic sphere. Here, the system of filters created by the mass appropriation of information and communication technologies in the last two decades, has set the premise for a change of the social contract that has made social robot penetration possible. Whilst exploring the models and the meanings of social robots in the domestic sphere it emerges that robotics is following two different paths: one addressing the material part of housework (more traditional robotics) and the other addressing the immaterial part of reproduction work (more innovative robotics). Finally, the paper analyzes the dematerialization process of social robotics that is still taking place, a practice that is defined herein as “ubiquitous social roboting.”