Japanese Review of Cultural Anthropology
Online ISSN : 2424-0494
Print ISSN : 2432-5112
ISSN-L : 2432-5112
Technology as Mediation : On the Process of Engineering and Living with the "AIBO" Robot
Akinori KUBO
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2010 Volume 11 Pages 103-123


The entertainment robot "AIBO," which was fist marketed by SONY in 1999, has attracted people as the first robot designed for everyday life. In this paper, I analyze both the engineering and reception of AIBO in order to grasp the multidimensional nature of technology, to question the relationship between science and culture, and to re-imagine the notion of "technology," by focusing on its capacity to mediate between heterogeneous entities. During the engineering processes that led to AIBO, the design practices of engineers related scientific knowledge and technological devices to cultural narratives about robots in an effort to make an attractive product. In the process of reception, the interpretive practices of owners related the mechanical behavior of AIBO to cultural meanings in their living spaces in such a way that, over time, the attractiveness of AIBO robots for owners became profoundly different from the initial suppositions of the design engineers. Finally, I explore the methodological and ethical implications of thinking of technology as mediation.

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2010 Japanese Society of Cultural Anthropology
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