In a world of increasing specialization, robot UX designers will hail from very wide- ranging backgrounds: from social science to library science, mechanical engineering to graphic design, software development to film-making. Thinking and designing holistically will require robot design teams to blend expertise and skills in new ways. Well-directed modern movies require hundreds of specialists to work in concert to relate a relatively simple, linear, predefined story. Robots by contrast will be telling deeply personalized stories to different audiences with different needs, simultaneously, and over long periods of time. The design of robots will require even greater collaboration among many more human (and robotic) contributors.

If we want to distribute the future more evenly (and effectively and safely), we must build interdisciplinary understanding and skill sets like we’ve never built before. Although technology will be an important enabler to robots taking on higher-ordered functions, there are historical lessons that can help guide the most appropriate implementation and evolution of these technologies. From King Zhou, reportedly experiencing the uncanny valley 2,400 years ago, to Aristotle’s recipe for persuasive communications, to more widely accepted UX principles, interactions with robots will be most successful and meaningful when they support the social conventions of the cultures for which they are designed.

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