What does culture mean for cultural robotics?

Published: 23 September 2022

Join us online for the latest workshop on Innovative Methods for a Digital Society, exploring the intersections of culture and robotics.

Date:  October 28th, 12:00 - 13.00 (online)

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Title: What does culture mean for cultural robotics?

Speaker: Dr. Masoumeh Mansouri (University of Birmingham)

Abstract: The vast majority of approaches to introducing cultural factors into robotics rely on what is perceived to be a national culture. It has been shown that the oversimplified confounding of culture and nationality results in implicit support for conservative social policies, and the reproduction of cultural stereotypes. However, there are many theories of culture not based solely on nationality. These theories come from different disciplines ranging from psychology, linguistics, anthropology and political science to philosophy, only to name a few. In robotics, there are many knowledge representations, automated reasoning, and machine learning techniques, each of which has a different expressivity, and varying computational capacities that can be harnessed for representing a different interpretation of culture. This talk advocates an epistemic analysis of cultural theories through the lens of AI methods as an essential step for endowing robots with culture. I argue that such an analysis not only allows us to identify which fundamental theories of culture are candidates to be programmed into, or learned by robots, but also provides transparency in how an intelligent robot behaves in different cultural contexts.

Speaker Biography: Dr Masoumeh Iran Mansouri is an assistant professor in the School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham. Previously, she was a researcher at the Center for Applied Autonomous Sensor Systems (AASS), Örebro University, Sweden, where she received her PhD. She was also a visiting researcher at the Oxford Robotics Institute and had a research stay in Sven Koenig's lab at the University of Southern California. Her research includes two complementary areas: developing hybrid knowledge representation and reasoning methods to solve combined task and motion planning problems in robotics as well as exploring topics at the intersection of cultural theories and robotics. In the latter, her main goal is to study whether/how robots can be culturally sensitive given the broad definitions of culture in different fields of study.


What is the Innovative Research Methodologies for a Digital Society (IRMDS) (2022-2023) Workshop Series?

Algorithms, digital data sets, social media networks, integrated technologies are all part of our everyday lives. How should we investigate the ongoing changes and challenges of our digital society? How should we explore our relationships with digital data and the online world? What are the limitations and affordances of new methodologies and what ethical considerations should researchers take into account as they look at the digitalisation of our lives? The Digital Society and Economy Interdisciplinary Theme Group invites you to join us for a new workshop series where you can meet researchers who will share Innovative Research Methodologies that address current digital practices and phenomena.

The workshops are open to postgraduate researchers, Early Career Researchers, as well as experienced researchers who want to learn about new methodologies or share their own experiences with the methods presented in the workshop. Each workshop will focus on a new method/methodology tried and tested in various contexts. The workshops are meant to provide participants with the opportunity to learn about that method/methodology and ask questions about the process of implementing it. Each workshop will last 50 minutes: 20-30 min. speaker's presentation and 20-30 min. Q&A.

First published: 23 September 2022

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