Human-machine relationships are being transformed by robots increasingly performing social roles such as teachers, carers and companions. This arrival of social robots is challenging understandings of human-machine relationships and generating diverse aesthetic, ethical and political debates. Matters of interest include asymmetries in human-robot relationships, the co-constitution of humans and robots, the place of robot labour, the significance of machine embodiment, and accounts of human-robot communication, among other topics. Commonly, the ways in which social and cultural norms shape social robotics do not receive enough critical scrutiny.
This special issue of Transformations examines the ways in which human-machine relationships are configured in social robotics. It seeks contributions that recognise that contemporary robotics produces and circulates cultural values, and consider how social robots continue and diverge from other expressive and communicative practices. It recognises that contemporary robotics produces and circulates cultural values, and considers how social robots continue and diverge from other expressive and communicative practices. In so doing it tests the scope and limits of the category of social robotics.