In Susan Herring’s Robot-Mediated Communication, she discusses a new concept of telepresence robot-mediated communication (RMC) in which human-human communication is fostered through robots/AI.
RMC, more specifically, is defined as “human-human communication in which at least one party is telepresence through voice, video, and motion in physical space by a remotely controlled robot.” RMC allows another person to be in “real-time” through experiencing audio and video. Essentially, the RMC robot would allow another person to navigate and move around the room of the person they were communicating with to simulate the experience of them being there. The use of RMC can expand through various different contexts and it would change the way people interact and communicate. Aside from mere communication, telepresence robots could also be used in security/high-risk situations that involve surveillance. It is interesting to consider how these robots could allow someone to be there without the actual risks of being in that location.
Furthered in this article, the specific technological properties and features of these robots are also discussed. Properties like embodiment, size, movement, audio/video, and message transmission show how these robots can interact with humans and which properties are considered in the design. It is really interesting to consider that these robots were created to foster social interactions between humans. The senses that humans typically experience are coded into these machines to act as a proxy between humans. While this seems great, there are some constraints like lack of depth perception, the size of the RMC getting in the way, and the lack of identifiability. However, these robots will ultimately serve a very useful purpose and allow for communication between humans to be transformed. FaceTime is a great feature that currently exists, but it lacks the ability of the other party to navigate the other’s space. With these telepresence RMCs, it will make humans feel more immersed.
This concept of telepresence RMC robots is a little frightening but also extremely useful. I am really interested to see where this field develops and how receptive people are to using these bots for robot-mediated communication.