In-Touch Podcast

Industrial Touch & Robotic Imaginations

In this episode, Lili Golmohammadi catches up with Dr Ned Barker to hear about his research into advanced robots in industrial settings. Every industrial revolution, or major technological advancement, transforms the role of touch in making things and the social and sensory experience of work. This has not simply been a story of production being taken out of the hands of workers by automated processes. Who touches what, why, and how, has been a longstanding feature of our sociological and political life – especially when it comes to the touching of dirty and dangerous materials. With all the current technological changes afoot, what types of touch do we want to see developing? And what alternatives might there be to the well-known utopian/dystopian cultural imaginations of robots and industrial touch? In this episode, we dive into some of these themes, which emerged through Ned’s time in a waste management centre, a glass bottle factory, and a leading robotics company, as well as through interviews with world-leading roboticists.