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Techno-Mimesis – Becoming a Robot

06 | 2019 – 08 | 2019

Techno-Mimesis is a performative method for robot designers. It is based on my PhD and on theories of ›New Animism‹.


Employing anthropomorphism in physical appearance and behavior is the most widespread strategy for designing social robots. However, imitating humans impedes the full exploration of robots’ social abilities. In fact, their very ›thingness‹ (e.g., sensors, rationality) is able to create ›superpowers‹ that go beyond human abilities, such as endless patience. To better identify these special abilities, I develop a performative method called ›Techno-Mimesis‹ and explored it in a series of workshops with robot designers.

Together with my colleagues of the University of Siegen, I created ›prostheses‹ to allow designers to transform themselves into their future robot to experience use cases from the robot’s perspective, e.g., ›seeing‹ with a distance sensor rather than with eyes.

This imperfect imitation helps designers to experience being human and being robot at the same time, making differences apparent and facilitating the discovery of a number of potential physical, cognitive, and communicational robotic superpowers.


University of Siegen

Pablo Castagnalo (Foto cleaning robot)

Corresponding Publication:

J. Dörrenbächer, D. Löffler, M.  Hassenzahl: »Becoming a Robot-Overcoming Anthropomorphism with Techno-Mimesis.« Proceedings of the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM 2020.

A selection of ›prostheses‹ used for Techno-Mimesis – from infra-red glasses to voice recognition stencils to a focused hearing headband.

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