Episode from the podcastHuman Robot Interaction

Robots and Racism

Released Monday, 1st April 2019
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Racism is a major problem in our society and it is an issue from which the HRI community cannot shy away from. Several studies showed that people transfer their racial biases onto robots. In this episode we will talk about these difficult topics of racism and sexism. My guest are Kumar Yogeeswaran, Friederike Eyssel and Megan Strait. They all work on racism among humans and towards robots. Besides identifying the biases we also talk about how and if robots might be able to help reducing them.

ISSN 2703-4054

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In an earlier version of this post the work of Megan Strait on racism among humans and towards robots was described as “extensive”. Upon Megan’s request the qualifier “extensive” was removed.

Megan Strait would like to also note that:

I do not endorse the idea of using robots to reduce bias, as I do not find the premise to respect existing understanding and literature. If racism were readily solvable via intergroup exposure, there would not be such movement on “AI ethics” as is readily apparent in the discourse of mainstream media. With respect to combatting racism, my perspective is that robots have potential value in the role they could play in moderating of social dynamics (see, for example, Campos, Martinho, & Paiva 2018Hoffman, Zuckerman, Hirschberger, & Shani-Sherman …, and Martelaro, Jung, & Hinds 2015). Applications in this manner have particular potential to address social inequities (e.g., the placement of responsibility largely on people of color to combat manifestations of racism). But that does not specifically serve toward attenuating individual and institutional bias.
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