Journal Article

‘Well-behaved robots rarely make history’: coactive technologies and humanistic HCI



Technologies, equipped with artificial intelligence and an agency of their own, are becoming increasingly available to consumers. Rather than just augmenting human senses or mediating information, these coactive technologies are mobile, pro-active, context-sensitive, programmable and agential in the milieu of the user. This paper illustrates a humanistic HCI approach to coactive technologies by analysing the AI-powered robot Cozmo. The analysis demonstrates how Cozmo 1) remediates fictional characteristics to appear more familiar, emotional and lovable; 2) is both pre-programmed and programmable, creating an interesting tension in its agential spectrum; and 3) is discursively marketed as a cunning, emotional, and non-machinic accomplice.

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About the Author

Jörgen Rahm-Skågeby

Rahm-Skågeby is an associate professor (docent) in media studies at Stockholm university. He holds a PhD in informatics geared towards interaction design and Human-Computer Interaction; a BSSc in information and media science (including behavioura... Read more


Rahm-Skågeby, J. (2018). ‘Well-behaved robots rarely make history’: coactive technologies and humanistic HCI. Design and Culture. Available at: [Accessed 2 Dec. 2022]. doi: 10.1080/17547075.2018.1466567.