Social Robotics

2019-2020

Course Objective

After successful completion of the course, students are expected to:
• Understand and discuss current thematic and research issues in social
robotics;
• Critically discuss the role of theory building (i.e. formal modeling)
within social robotics, and reflect on ethical and normative issues in
robot research and design;
• Apply a critical-reflective attitude about up-to-date and
interdisciplinary scientific research in the field of social robotics;
• Develop a design proposal and related research to tackle a
communication problem in social robotics.

Course Content

The future is now and we are designing it. Certain layers of society
already work with social robots on a day-to-day basis. Until recently,
robots seemed to be the realm of engineering but with the rise of Big
Data analysis and embedded software in the Internet of Things,
Communication Science has a new role to play in understanding how
digital communications (i.e. patterns, trends, read-outs) should be
translated back into human-digestible forms. Social robots seem to be
the ultimate interface between the digital and analogue world but in
what way are robots different from humans? Do the same rules of conduct
and communication apply as to human-human interactions? Will
Computer-Mediated Communication branch off into robot-mediated
communication? Will Media Psychology have found a new field to explore
human bonding with machines?
This course consists of 6 lectures that follow the Recipe for the Study
and Creation of Social Robots:

1. Observe people interacting with a robot (e.g., in health, education,
hospitality)
2. Add theory (e.g., Media Equation, Theory of Affective Bonding, Theory
of Mind, Deontic Logics)
3. Model the theory (verification of truth)
4. Design a robot/application
5. Test (empirical validation, truth conditions, Bayes or frequentist
analysis)
6. New theory (your own addition or radical paradigm shift)
7. Go to 1

Learning the ingredients is one thing, combining them in practice is
another. Therefore, lectures are flanked by practical exercises during
the work groups, where you will learn how to formally model a theory but
also how to draw on your own creativity to design a robot or a robot
application. If possible (but this is dependent on the availability of
participants), we will let your design be tested by real users. While
working, we will have plenty of discussions about the societal impact of
robots on work, privacy, security, ethical behavior, our self-image as
humans, and the like.
Theoretical explorations will not be limited to communication science
but will stretch to science philosophy (i.e. epistemics) and the theory
of creativity and innovation as well. In practice, we will work with
Nao/Zora robots, Pepper, DARwIn-OP, Autonomous TurtleBot 2, and many toy
robots (Hasbro’s monkey, Roboraptor). Mindstorms, Makey-Makey,
LittleBits, and Fischertechnik are available for design challenges.

Teaching Methods

Lectures and work groups. Lectures are partly done by robot tutors. Work
groups are directed at robot-communication design in relation to
electro-mechanical and industrial design engineering (equipment is
available). Students will be trained to access their individual
creativity and ingenuity.

Method of Assessment

1) Individual paper-pencil examination (‘tentamen’) (50% final grade)
2) Short graded assignments (group-based) (40% final grade)
3) Individual participation in the work groups (10% final grade)
Examination, assignment, and participation should minimally be
‘passable’ (‘voldoende’).

Literature

Hyperlinks to scientific articles from different disciplines
(humanities, communication, and computer science) are available on
Canvas. Purchase of two (e-)books is recommended but not obligatory.
The third book is open access and free of charge. Individual literature
searches are expected with respect to assignments.

Target Audience

MA students Communication Science (i.e. MP), MA students Linguistics
(i.e. CIW), MSc students Computer Science (i.e. AI and CHI), MSc
students Health Science, MSc students Industrial Design Engineering
(i.e. interaction design), and foreign exchange students.

Additional Information

This course will be taught in English. Part of the teaching will be done
by robot tutors. We welcome international exchange students and students
outside the Social Sciences. Programming skills are appreciated but not
required. Work groups are held off campus at the Social Robotics Pop-up
Lab (www.robopop.nl). Presence is mandatory for all plenary sessions and
work groups.

Recommended background knowledge

BA level cognitive theory (whether acquired in linguistics,
communication, artificial intelligence, industrial design engineering,
education, or health intervention). BA level knowledge of empirical
testing and/or formal modeling.
Recommended but not obligatory: structured questionnaire design,
statistics, coding (any language), electronics, mechanics.

General Information

Course Code S_SR
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator prof. dr. E.A. Konijn
Examiner prof. dr. E.A. Konijn
Teaching Staff prof. dr. E.A. Konijn
dr. J.F. Hoorn

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Teaching Methods Study-group, Lecture
Target audiences

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