|Author(s)||Morana Alač, Javier Movellan, Fumihide Tanaka|
|Title||When a robot is social: Spatial arrangements and multimodal semiotic engagement in the practice of social robotics|
|Tag(s)||EMCA, Robots, Multimodality, body, design, gesture, human–robot interaction, laboratory, social agency, social robotics, spatial organization|
|Journal||Social Studies of Science|
Social roboticists design their robots to function as social agents in interaction with humans and other robots. Although we do not deny that the robot’s design features are crucial for attaining this aim, we point to the relevance of spatial organization and coordination between the robot and the humans who interact with it. We recover these interactions through an observational study of a social robotics laboratory and examine them by applying a multimodal interactional analysis to two moments of robotics practice. We describe the vital role of roboticists and of the group of preverbal infants, who are involved in a robot’s design activity, and we argue that the robot’s social character is intrinsically related to the subtleties of human interactional moves in laboratories of social robotics. This human involvement in the robot’s social agency is not simply controlled by individual will. Instead, the human–machine couplings are demanded by the situational dynamics in which the robot is lodged.