The exhibition ‘Hello, Robot. Design between Human and Machine’ opened at the Vitra Design Museum on 11 February. It offers the first in-depth study of the current robotic boom – with examples of robots from homes, industry, medical science, film and literature. We conducted an interview with the curator Amelie Klein.
But in reality, we are already surrounded by robots and robotic systems that are capable of assuming every conceivable physical or digital form, material quality, scale and intelligence level: from drones to self-checkouts, from cranes to nanobots, and from vacuum cleaners with the intelligence of an amoeba to online chatbots that can engage us for hours. So the question whether we should be excited or worried about robots is perhaps less pertinent than whether we should trust the political-economic complex of humans, organisations and infrastructure that stands behind them. What we have found in our research for this exhibition is that the future is ambivalent, and that our relationship to robots and robotic systems will probably remain so. It is therefore possible to be both wowed and worried at the same time.