About this Research Topic
The aim of this research topic is to gather findings and hypothesis on how robotic devices have changed, or may change, ways of communication between people.
In the last two decades, people acquired new means for communication: cellphones, e-mail, chat, SNS, and so on. With such communication media, along with the progress in information technologies and devices such as the World Wide Web (WWW) and smartphones, one’s lifestyle has rapidly changed. We can now talk with others anywhere and anytime, we can send and receive not just text or voice but also images, movies to express their ideas and feelings in finer detail. Such changes not only increased the bandwidth and relaxed the distance limitation of communication; they also changed how people communicate with others. For researchers, such changes provided new sources and methods for investigating human nature such as cognitive properties and sociological tendencies.
Now various types of robots that are aimed to work in our daily environment are developed and starting to appear in markets. Some robots can make simple conversations with people autonomously. Some cannot speak but people anthropomorphize them and talk to them. Some work as a mobile video chat system. Robots differ from existing information devices in that they can physically interact with real world objects. They can move around in the world we live, they can carry things, touch people or can be touched by people. You can feel a strong presence of the robot. Having a conversation with such robots, or having a conversation with other persons through such robots may re-define the meaning of communication.
People are starting to apply this new possibility in various fields. Some are making theater performances and art works with robots. Some are trying to use robots as means to understand and to talk to people with cognitive impairments such as dementia and autism. And some are using robots to refine communication with others. Such trials, as well as efforts to refine robots so that people can easily interact with them, are shedding lights on previously unknown human nature; e.g., how we recognize ourselves and others, what it is to have communication with others.
In this research topic, we aim to gather findings and hypothesis on such trials, such as:
- What we learned on human nature through human-human interaction via robots;
- New ways of communication that became available by robots;
- How robots will affect our ways of communication;
- How we can use robots to improve our communication with others;
- What functionalities are necessary for robots to enhance human-human communication.
By gathering insights from viewpoints of various fields, such as psychology, sociology, gerontology, nursing, education, neurology, engineering, arts, we aim to re-investigate human nature through robots and to explore a new possibility of communication. The participation of researchers from different disciplines is especially encouraged.
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