Vulnerability under the gaze of robots: relations among humans and robots

Nicola Liberati* (Corresponding Author), Shoji Nagataki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
114 Downloads (Pure)


The problem of artificial intelligence and human being has always raised questions about possible interactions among them and possible effects yielded by the introduction of such un-human subject. Dreyfus deeply connects intelligence and body based on a phenomenological viewpoint. Thanks to his reading of Merleau-Ponty, he clearly stated that an intelligence must be embodied into a body to function. According to his suggestion, any AI designed to be human-like is doom to failure if there is no tight bound with a human-like body. Today, we are facing the pervasive introduction of robots into our everyday life, and the problem of this co-existence raises again with new vigor since they are not mere speculations, but there are already products sold to the public. We will highlight how vulnerability has to be taken into consideration in the design of robots to create entities which are able to relate to human beings taking into consideration mainly the positions of Sartre, Habermas, Levinas, and Marleau-Ponty. A first part will focus on the vulnerability of the robots. Robots are going to be among us, but a real interaction is possible only the moment they have a “same” body of ours. Therefore, only through the realization of a “fragile” body we can achieve a cohabitation between equals. Thanks to Merleau-Ponty we will show how the vulnerability of a body is one of the most important element to found any social interaction. The second part will focus on how the robots will affect the vulnerability of the human subjects. To produce vulnerable robots is not a mere neutral introduction, but it shapes how the subjects are constituted. Thanks to Levinas, we will study how the vulnerable robots will shape the subjects. Thanks to Sartre, we will show how the creation of a different gaze in the robot changes the vulnerabilities of the human subjects. Introducing vulnerable robots is a way to shape ourselves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalAI & society
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print/First online - 14 May 2018


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Alterity
  • Mediation theory
  • Otherness
  • Phenomenology
  • Robotics
  • Vulnerability
  • Agent


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