William J. Clancey – Projecting Ourselves into Space: The Embodied Experience of Exploring Mars through Robotic Laboratories

CONFÉRENCIER : William J. Clancey, Ph.D., Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (Pensacola, USA)

vendredi 8 avril 2016, 15h00, salle DS-1950.

détails: http://www.evenements.uqam.ca/detail/680451-projecting-ourselves-into-space-the-embodied-experience-of-exploring-mars-through-robotic-laboratories

For over a decade planetary scientists have been conducting field work on Mars using mobile robotic laboratories. “Rovers” are programmed to acquire and analyze samples, take photographs, and apply instruments for spectral molecular and atomic analysis. The rovers return data that is interpreted and used to plan ongoing investigation of the landscape. The missions require working through consensus in large groups, publicly and systematically studying a landscape over months and years—without personally being able to move, look about, and manipulate materials. How does the design of a robotic laboratory enable successfully doing field science on another planet without being physically present? How does the sociotechnical system of roles, tools, processes keep the scientists engaged? A comparative ethnographic study, relating Mars Exploration Rover operations to field expeditions on Earth, reveals that rover’s design enables an experience of virtual presence on Mars and serves as a multidisciplinary collaboration tool. Integrating stereo vision with other instruments and sampling tools, the sociotechnical system is designed to facilitate the scientists’ imaginative projection into the body of the rover—an embodied experience of being on Mars. Rather than the “robotic geologist” replacing the scientists, the system design necessarily enables imagining possibilities for action (moving, analyzing, manipulating), which gives the scientists agency. In practice, the rover is a physical surrogate that augments human cognition, facilitating a new kind of field science. Ironically, the robot then becomes the focal hero of the story, personifying the scientists’ shared and largely anonymous efforts.

The video is available.

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