Vienna STS Talk: Chihyung Jeon

27.10.2016 18:15 - 21:00

Will Robots Take Care of Us? An Emerging Vision of Robotics and Society in South Korea

Robots may take our jobs, robots may love us, robots may kill us. Moving out of science fiction into policy documents, the robot has begun to affect our vision of how to organize personal and social lives in many parts of the world. Yet analyses of such visions of robotics within specific political and cultural contexts have not been produced sufficiently. In this talk, I will present some initial observations of recent technocultural experiments with robots in South Korea.

For the past several years, robots have entered the discussion of pressing agenda for the Korean government and citizens, such as aging society and risk society. It has been proposed that robots would play a role in, for example, dementia prevention and disaster response. These robots are circulated through technical demonstrations, cultural experiments, and popular imaginations. By examining these venues for robotics, I will point out that the robots are becoming an element of what I call “technofuturistic escape” in South Korea—a tendency to promote idealized scenarios of the future, in which all problems will have been solved by technosciences, while evading socioeconomic realities and dysfunctional systems of today. As the robots are always presented in the future tense, they offer policy makers and citizens the convenience of not having to address current problems directly. To question such a vision is to bring robots into a broader discussion on the role of the government in contemporary Korea.


Institut für Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung


Seminarraum STS, NIG, 1010 Wien, Universitätsstraße 7/II/6. Stock