Transformation in Digital Cultures

Reflections on Period I

Robots & Culture
Recalling the entire study of the course of Transformation in Digital Culture, our topics include discussions on the infiltration of digital media technology into all aspects of our lives, from digital socialization, digital economy, digital healthcare to digital ethnography and technomoral change. Among them, there was a discussion about robots and our culture. This topic peaked my interest to study it further. What impressed me very much was the video about humanoid robots research in Japan. I feel that with the development of technology, people are more and more interested in staying at home and using technological products to connect with friends and relatives. People may lack more of in person to person interaction. Especially for the younger generation, children born after 2020 may be exposed to electronic products like smartphone or tablets from an early age. This may hinder them to learn communication skills for in person to person interaction. In addition, people’s mental health issues have increasingly become a social topic, which is largely related to the loneliness of modern people. Therefore, I want to understand the development of humanoid robots and the beneficial aspects that it can really bring to people. Of course, I feel that the development of this technology is not a small change, it may be a new social species in a sense. Therefore, it may bring more trouble and influence to human society and culture. At the same time, the humanoid robot itself is a product of human culture in the design stage. We discussed the gender bias of the robot in class. It can be said that people are creating the robot species according to the needs and preferences of our culture, but what will be the result? Will robots, like in science fiction films, have a situation beyond our control someday in the future? I hope that I can do more research on this in the future.

In the entire study of the Real virtualities course, I think I learned a very interesting and practical method, that is, the phenomenological method. This is the first time I have studied philosophy. I always thought philosophy is very boring and difficult to understand, but phenomenological observation aroused my interest, shortened the distance between me and philosophy, and allowed me to enter the world of observation. I began to pay attention to everything that was happening and tried to observe through phenomenology. The core of phenomenology is intentionality, and intentionality is to restore all the subjective elements in the subject’s objective knowledge process, allowing us to analyze things in a more scientific and rigorous way. People’s cognition often changes from vague to obvious, and there is a critical point. When that point appears, there will be a reaction of “Ah, that’s how it is.” When I studied phenomenology, I also felt this way.
When I checked the information, I saw a case in an article about phenomenological observation, about a person who observed and recorded the changes in her grief after her mother passed away through phenomenology. Through this method, to record and analyze the change process of people’s grief. This specific case made me deeply understand the significance of phenomenological observation, that is, no matter what kind of phenomenon, we can understand its true and objective changes and the real experience it brings to us through observation, and then proceed analysis to understand the world and ourselves. In addition, the vividness of phenomenology described by the first-person perspective will evoke the same experience and resonance of more readers. This makes research conducted through phenomenology more attractive to readers and easier to understand. I hope that I can continue to use this method to understand the world in subsequent academic studies and research.

(2) Comments

  1. balaska says:

    Dear Serena,

    I can see that you have really interesting thoughts about the two topics that you highlighted. I believe that you can further investigate on all cultural, social and psychological implications of the integration of robots and AI in our lives, always taking for granted the important role of different cultures and stereotypes. It is very interesting that you pose the question of how the new generation will experience this overwhelmed of technology life and what their lives will be like. Both positive and negative aspects are always of great interest for research.
    Regarding phenomenology, I wouldn’t agree more! Indeed, through this approach, you can explore yourself, your experiences and even feelings. All the more so, it helps you get your research to a deeper level, as this way one can draw a better quality of conclusions through qualitative interviews. What came to my mind after reading your reflection was: using phenomenology to new generation “digital natives” in order to examine their experiences in a profound manner.

    Kind regards,


  2. grijspaardt says:

    Dear Serena,
    I think that from your reflection is seems that you have gained some new interests and insights from the two courses in the first period. As of your interests in the place of robots in our culture, I think this is a very fruitful one. The roles that robots can possibly play, I think is very relevant today. You talk about how they can connect friends and relatives, which I think can be very interesting and important research in relation to covid-19 going on in the world right now. I am also pleased to hear that you are excited about delving into the philosophical realm more through the method of phenomenology. This method can also be relevant in relation to the implications with robot technology that you described. All in all I think this method and topic can function as a great starting point for your master thesis, and are definitely rewarding concepts!
    All the best,

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