AI-Powered Robots for Libraries: Exploratory Questions

KIM, Bohyun (2019) AI-Powered Robots for Libraries: Exploratory Questions. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2019 - Athens, Greece - Libraries: dialogue for change in Session S08 - Information Technology. In: Robots in libraries: challenge or opportunity?, 21-22 August 2019, Wildau, Germany.

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Language: English (Original)
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AI-Powered Robots for Libraries: Exploratory Questions

With recent developments in machine learning, a subfield of artificial intelligence (AI), it seems no longer extraordinary to think that we will be soon living in the world with many robots. While the term, ‘a robot’ conjures up the image of a humanoid machine, a robot can take many forms ranging from a drone, an autonomous vehicle, to a therapeutic baby seal-bot. But what counts as a robot, and what kind of robots should we expect to see at libraries? AI has made it possible to make a robot intelligent and autonomous in performing tasks not only mechanical but also cognitive, such as driving, natural language processing, translation, and face recognition. The capability of AI-powered robots far exceeds that of other simpler and less sophisticated machines. How we will be interacting with these robots once they came to be in the world with us is an interesting question. Humans have a strong tendency to anthropomorphize creatures and objects they interact with, many of which are less complex than a robot. This suggests that we will be quite susceptible to projecting motives, emotions, and other human traits onto robots. For this reason, the adoption of robots raises unique concerns regarding their safety, morality, their impact on social relationships and norms, and their potential to be used as a means for manipulation and deception. This paper explores these concerns related to the adoption of robots. It also discusses what kind of robots we may come to see at libraries in the near future, what kind of human-robot interactions may take place at libraries, and what type of human-robot relationship may facilitate or impede a library robot’s involvement in our information-seeking activities.

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