Purely functional definitions of social roles in terms of codified task structures suggest that robots may be able to perform some or all of the tasks of a social role. However, in order to determine what we will ‘gain or lose’ when using robots to perform a social role R in context C, we need to determine whether the performance of R in C (i) requires capacities traditionally associated with human ‘subjectivity’, and (ii) allows for, or requires, a ‘subjective surplus’, that is, individual variations in role performance that are possible due to the capacities of subjectivity. The ’subjective surplus’ of R in C can have positive or negative effects for the performance of this role. The panel presented the approach of Integrative Social Robotics (ISR) as a method for analyzing perceptions and functions of the subjective surplus within a concrete institutional context, with special attention to subjective surplus factors that are traditionally thought to be indispensable, such as empathy, sympathy, and spontaneity (free will).
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