Humanoid Robots (2017-2019)Curator: Jayden Cooper, University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), Communication & Digital Media Studies | November 2017 ongoing
Collection Editor: Isabel Pedersen
Collection Archivists: Sharon Caldwell and Jayden Cooper
With a view to FABRIC's focus on embodied technology, Humanoid Robots seeks to explore the rapid emergence of robots specifically designed to look like and interact with humans, to be embodied.
It collects material on humanoid robot inventions, such as those made by Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro http://www.geminoid.jp/en/index.html. It delves into the rich technological overlap between robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
The collection features recent cinematic fictional robots including Ava from Ex Machina, robots of Westworld, the replicants of Blade Runner 2049, and Ultron from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While many robots of the collection are often portrayed negatively and maliciously, we also make a point to include positive examples of humanoid robots. Vision from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, demonstrates that robot-to-human interaction is not black and white, but instead has complex ethical implications both in favour of and against their development. That said, the collection aims to maintain a neutral stance, providing information from both perspectives to allow the reader to make their own informed opinion.
Unique to this collection are the augmenting keywords, which linger over existential concepts such as creating, expressing, feeling, living, surviving, being and bonding. We identify these as an evolving posthumanist thread in the discourse.
These "social robots", frequently theorized in contemporary science fiction, are slowly becoming a reality as shown by inventions such as Sophia, a robot granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia. Interestingly, Sophia is likened to the robots of Westworld by a journalist responding to her. Many longer industry projects are featured in the collection including the famous Asimo Honda robot.
Finally, academic commentary has been archived in video lectures, such as Cynthia Breazeal's The Rise of Personal Robots (2009). While there are countless possible directions that this emerging tech could go, from synthetic humans to super-intelligent hive-mind AI, this collection attempts to show likely outcomes based on current innovations.