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Accepted Paper:

Android Expression: The female form as problematic standard for embodied AI existence  
Kristian Hoeck

Paper short abstract:

This paper depicts my attempt at interventionist audiovisual fieldwork amongst Japanese roboticists in which the collaboration around a video production of the female android ERICA shows her gendered expression to be a problematic standard for robotics AI to gain an embodied algorithmic existence.

Paper long abstract:

This paper tells the story of my failed attempt at interventionist audiovisual fieldwork amongst Japanese roboticists in which I try to produce a video of the female android ERICA, together with her creator, professor Hiroshi Ishiguro. While I fail in convincing professor Ishiguro of ERICA’s contestable, gendered expression, this mismatched collaboration nonetheless exposes the visions of the roboticists’ agenda. The camera becomes a shared framing from which emerges several figure/ground reversals that each draw out different aspects of ERICA as a techno-personified existence. While I focus on the ERICA as a poor representative of the female person, for the Professor, ERICA is first and foremost a research object whose existence depends on how well her algorithmic affordances become calibrated to standardized cultural repertoires. This paper thus discusses how an AI-based being like ERICA comes to figure as a standardized human form calibrated to prescribed gender roles. I discover that the ideal for the roboticists is not to be sensitive towards different groups of people, to nuances of roles and the baggage it carries. Rather, their ideal is to become attuned to an algorithmic existence and to find the proper standards under which an algorithmic being can thrive in an embodied, interactive form. The significance of this, I propose, is that ERICA is indeed an attempted ideal, but not a human one. Her human form rather comes to figure as the ideal platform for the algorithmic scripts of ERICA to become embodied and calibrated towards a future form of socio-technical existence.

Panel P01e
AI and interdisciplinary Futures Anthropology
  Session 1 Friday 10 June, 2022, -