chapter  3
The semiotic robot hypothesis
Pages 17

The constellation of a delimited (though fluid) set of connotations around ‘robot’ makes the talked-about robot not simply a topic of conversation but a semiotic object, something with meaningfulness beyond the concrete referent. A social robot is an object formed in discourse in more profound ways than merely being the subject of talk about machines that engineers build. The talked-about robot has semiotic properties that are not reducible to the machine’s technical properties (and vice versa). To give a concrete example, it is the difference between the technical details of the gadget registered as Patent No US 8,376,803 B2 to a NEC inventor, on the one side, and the various images, ideas and emotions that the inventor’s designation of the gadget as a childcare robot conjures up, on the other.