Rage against robots: Emotional and motivational dimensions of anti-robot attacks, robot sabotage, and robot bullying

Technological Forecasting and Social Change 189 (2023)
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An assortment of kinds of attacks and aggressive behaviors toward artificial intelligence (AI)-enhanced robots has recently emerged. This paper explores questions of how the human emotions and motivations involved in attacks of robots are being framed as well as how the incidents are presented in social media and traditional broadcast channels. The paper analyzes how robots are construed as the “other” in many contexts, often akin to the perspectives of “machine wreckers” of past centuries. It argues that focuses on the emotions and motivations of robot attackers can be useful in mitigating anti-robot activities. “Hate crime” or “hate incident” characterizations of some anti-robot efforts should be utilized in discourse as well as some future legislative efforts. Hate crime framings can aid in identifying generalized antagonism and antipathy toward robots as autonomous and intelligent entities in the context of antirobot attacks. Human self-defense may become a critical issue in some anti-robot attacks, especially when apparently malfunctioning robots are involved. Attacks of robots present individuals with vicarious opportunities to participate in anti-robot activity and also potentially elicit other aggressive, copycat actions as videos and narrative accounts are shared via social media as well as personal networks.

Author's Profile

Jo Ann Oravec
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater


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