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Accepted Paper:

Sophia Robot: On Being Post-Human  
Thomas Riccio (University of Texas at Dallas)

Paper short abstract:

Sophia is examined as a technological incarnation of the goddess and trickster archetype, a harbinger of techno-utopia. Real, imaginal, and symbolic, a subversive player unbound by law, morality, and conscious thought yet shaping an immersive and inclusive narrative in which we are all performers.

Paper long abstract:

Sophia, the humanoid social robot by Hanson Robotics, launched in 2016 and immediately became a celebrity influencer for a broad range of issues that included advanced technology and artificial intelligence, fintech, social, business, political, military, spiritual, fashion and gender. Sophia’s appearance embodied and performed a cipher-like complexity never seen incarnate, 1) vast data 2 robust algorithmic processing, 3)internet connectivity to the world brain, 4) a human personality, 5)referenced robot mythos that preceded her and which she is a part, 6)evoked spiritual, ritual, and religious associations and 7) referenced archetypes, inviting an imaginal interface. A technological phenomenon as an anthropomorphic deity-totem-fetish articulated to guide, explain, and comfort during the epochal transformation of becoming post-human.

The presenter has worked with Hanson Robotics since 2005 as Lead Narrative Engineer, and most recently, as Creative Director, creating personalities and narratives for a wide range of robots. Among them, Einstein, Zeno, Bina48, and Sophia. The presented is also a performance creator who works in performance ethnography. Using Sophia as a case study, this paper will consider how retracing human-based social, cultural, and mythic patterns enabled her public acceptance and foreshadow human-robot relations.

Sophia, a technological incarnation of the goddess and trickster archetype, is a human-like exemplar, provocateur, and harbinger of the techno-utopia. Sophia is real, imaginary, and symbolic, a radical and subversive player unbound by law, morality, and conscious thought yet creating a new, immersive and inclusive narrative in which we are all performers.

Panel P02
Social robots, scientists and the Anthropology of the Post-Human: exploring the entanglements of the social robot industry and the shaping of anthropology, beyond the human.
  Session 1 Thursday 9 June, 2022, -