While finding some sources for the topic of how robots and other technologies created by women are beneficial to society, I came across several developments in robotics technology and, to my surprise, I found out that many of the humanoid robots that have been developed these past years have been created using female attributes. This has become a topic of serious debate and controversy since gender is of great importance when creating these robotic technologies. Many people think that robots that have been given woman characteristics have a negative impact in society and the technological world as they are seeing as sexual objects. Researchers believe that in a long term, individuals could get sentimentally attached with these robots, causing them to become isolate from each another and have difficulties when interacting with other people. According to Tufts University computer scientist Matthias Scheutz, “that could lead to unidirectional emotional bonds with machines that the machines cannot reciprocate and could affect the ways people interact with other people.”
But where does the idea of creating female humanoid robots come from? As it is observed, several of the films and novels that belong to the science fiction genre objectify woman as the authors use androids with woman-like features. Films such as Ex-Machina, Metropolis, and Blade Runner depicts robots with female features to attract the audience specifically the male audience. Additionally and according to Patricia Melzer in her book Alien Constructions: Science Fiction and Feminist Thought, “long tradition exists in fiction of men attempting to create the stereotypical “perfect woman”. Female cyborgs have been similarly used in fiction, in which natural bodies are modified to become objects of fantasy. Women have been objectified in the science fiction genre as authors and writers have shown artificial intelligence that resemble female features.
But not always these woman-like humanoid robots can be subject of negative connotations as they can utilize as a way to incentive real women to get more interest in robotics and the technology field. Since gender plays an important role in human behavior, studies reveal that female robots can bring a positive impact in the social environment. According to Laura Dattaro in her article “Bot Looks Like a Lady: Should robots have gender?”, she states that in the future, robots will have an active role in human society as they will work along with humans to accomplish a particular task just as some of them are doing in the present time. As Dattaro explains, “Already, robots are helping with tasks like caring for the elderly and teaching both fields traditionally associated with women”. For this reason, she thinks that female robots will be more helpful to interact with people while being treated just like humans. In addition, according to Nicolaus Radford a former NASA roboticist and creator of the NASA robot Valkyrie, giving a robot a female role might be a great opportunity to reach out to women and girls who might one day built their own robots. As proof, he points to one person he knows who particularly appreciated Valkyrie: his 7-year-old-daughter. “She absolutely was in love with this robot. It was a major source of inspiration for her. She talked about it all the time. She drew pictures of Valkyrie” meaning that female robots can also incentive women of young ages to participate more in robotics technology.
At first my main topic for the proposal draft was how robotic technology created by woman is beneficial for society. However, I encountered several conflicts when developing this topic. When I did the peer review my classmates were interested in the topic of woman’s development in the technological field, but they did not find it clear whether this topic was related to science fiction. As I explained that my idea was related to science fiction in the fact that according to the science fiction genre, men create robots and technologies that in the future might probably replace humans, woman creations in the other hand will not replace human task but these technologies will benefit them, they understood and the topic became a bit clear to them. Then while trying to find the sources to show my topic, I found difficulties to get the sources to prove my point. however, I found a topic that is theme of debate and controversy and this is the objectification of women in robotics technology as well as in the science fiction genre as these real life creations come from films and shows of the sci-fi genre. I found plenty of sources to prove my points and how these topic is subject of great controversy. For this reason I would like to explore more about this topic since I feel is more related to the science fiction genre and close to my previous topic.
Zuin Lidia. “A brief history of men who build female robots”. https://versions.killscreen.com/a-brief-history-of-men-who-build-female-robots/
Weiss, Suzannah. “We talked to an expert about the pros and cons of sex robots” http://www.complex.com/life/2016/03/sex-robots.
Steve, Rose. “Ex Machina and sci-fi’s obsession with sexy female robots” https://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/jan/15/ex-machina-sexy-female-robots-scifi-film-obsession
Daratto, Laura. “Bot Looks Like a Lady. Should Robots Have a Gender”. http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2015/02/robot_gender_is_it_bad_for_human_women.html
Melzer, Patricia Alien Constructions: Science Fiction and Feminist Thought, p. 202 University of Texas Press, 2006.