“Oh Yes, Robots! People Like Robots; the Robot People Should do Something”: Perspectives and Prospects in Public Engagement With Robotics
Governmental and institutional policy making in a number of countries has embedded public engagement strategies as a primary channel to connect citizens with scientific and technological innovation. Robotics is emerging as a key site for such new technological activity and its applications are likely to be increasingly notable in our lives in coming years. Robotics researchers are investing considerable time and effort in “engaging” publics. Concentrating on the findings of 24 qualitative interviews with those actively organizing or engaging publics, across 11 public engagement activities focused on the robotics field within the United Kingdom, this article explores their conceptions of “public engagement” and its benefits and constraints. The results suggest that while the language of engagement has been embraced there remain practical, conceptual, and individual influences on the level of engagement which is experienced.