One thing that distinguishes robots from other machines is the extent to which they operate at the level of meaning and not just mechanism. In this presentation, I will suggest that the embodied nature of robots means that they sometimes function as icons and thus convey meanings in a different manner to other media forms. Moreover, the representational content of social robots sometimes implicates their designers in difficult ethical dilemmas. In order to try to address these, engineers need to think more consciously about the politics of the meanings their robots rely on and convey.
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