Tech in the News: We Don’t Need Robots That Resemble Humans

Ian Bogost

Posted March 1, 2018

External Article: The Medium

Ian Bogost, professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Institute of Technology, was quoted in the Medium, March 1, article, “We Don’t Need Robots That Resemble Humans.” The School of Literature, Media, and Communication is part of the Georgia Tech Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.


It’s human nature to perceive robots as having human features and exhibiting human behavior. Anthropomorphic inclinations are in our DNA, and engineers can’t override this tendency. What roboticists can do is help us better cope with cognitive biases and better address social ones. To accomplish these goals, they should embrace a postmodern aesthetic. Bots should be designed like Deadpool — the graphic novel–adapted cinematic antihero who constantly breaks the fourth wall by reminding the movie audience that he knows he’s a superhero character in a superhero movie… Let’s consider popular digital assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana. Ian Bogost, the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts distinguished chair in media studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology, recently argued in the Atlantic that their design is the source of #genderfails: The bots’ very names ring gendered bells; the bots perform service-based labor that has been historically associated with stereotypes of women’s work and women’s emotional labor; and the bots can only ignore or disengage from sexist language, a far cry from real feminist ideals. Bogost concludes: “Maybe the best way to represent women as technological apparatuses is to avoid doing so in the first place.” Agreed!

For the full article, visit the Medium website.