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  1. In this work, we present Robots for Social Justice (R4SJ): a framework for an equitable engineering practice of Human-Robot Interaction, grounded in the Engineering for Social Justice (E4SJ) framework for Engineering Education and intended to complement existing frameworks for guiding equitable HRI research. To understand the new insights this framework could provide to the field of HRI, we analyze the past decade of papers published at the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, and examine how well current HRI research aligns with the principles espoused in the E4SJ framework. Based on the gaps identified through this analysis, we make five concrete recommendations, and highlight key questions that can guide the introspection for engineers, designers, and researchers. We believe these considerations are a necessary step not only to ensure that our engineering education efforts encourage students to engage in equitable and societally beneficial engineering practices (the purpose of E4SJ), but also to ensure that the technical advances we present at conferences like HRI promise true advances to society, and not just to fellow researchers and engineers. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2025
  2. The proliferation of Large Language Models (LLMs) presents both a critical design challenge and a remarkable opportunity for the field of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI). While the direct deployment of LLMs on interactive robots may be unsuitable for reasons of ethics, safety, and control, LLMs might nevertheless provide a promising baseline technique for many elements of HRI. Specifically, in this position paper, we argue for the use of LLMs as Scarecrows: ‘brainless,’ straw-man black-box modules integrated into robot architectures for the purpose of quickly enabling full-pipeline solutions, much like the use of “Wizard of Oz” (WoZ) and other human-in-the-loop approaches. We explicitly acknowledge that these Scarecrows, rather than providing a satisfying or scientifically complete solution, incorporate a form of the wisdom of the crowd, and, in at least some cases, will ultimately need to be replaced or supplemented by a robust and theoretically motivated solution. We provide examples of how Scarecrows could be used in language-capable robot architectures as useful placeholders, and suggest initial reporting guidelines for authors, mirroring existing guidelines for the use and reporting of WoZ techniques. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2025
  3. Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality for Human-Robot Interaction (VAM-HRI) has been gaining considerable attention in HRI research in recent years. However, the HRI community lacks a set of shared terminology and framework for characterizing aspects of mixed reality interfaces, presenting serious problems for future research. Therefore, it is important to have a common set of terms and concepts that can be used to precisely describe and organize the diverse array of work being done within the field. In this article, we present a novel taxonomic framework for different types of VAM-HRI interfaces, composed of four main categories of virtual design elements (VDEs). We present and justify our taxonomy and explain how its elements have been developed over the past 30 years as well as the current directions VAM-HRI is headed in the coming decade. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 31, 2024
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 23, 2024
  5. Because robots are perceived as moral agents, they must behave in accordance with human systems of morality. This responsibility is especially acute for language-capable robots because moral communication is a method for building moral ecosystems. Language capable robots must not only make sure that what they say adheres to moral norms; they must also actively engage in moral communication to regulate and encourage human compliance with those norms. In this work, we describe four experiments (total N =316) across which we systematically evaluate two different moral communication strategies that robots could use to influence human behavior: a norm-based strategy grounded in deontological ethics, and a role-based strategy grounded in role ethics. Specifically, we assess the effectiveness of robots that use these two strategies to encourage human compliance with norms grounded in expectations of behavior associated with certain social roles. Our results suggest two major findings, demonstrating the importance of moral reflection and moral practice for effective moral communication: First, opportunities for reflection on ethical principles may increase the efficacy of robots’ role-based moral language; and second, following robots’ moral language with opportunities for moral practice may facilitate role-based moral cultivation. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 30, 2024
  6. Robots need to be able to communicate with people through natural language. But how should their memory systems be designed to facilitate this communication? 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  7. Significant segments of the HRI literature rely on or promote the ability to reason about human identity characteristics, including age, gender, and cultural background. However, attempting to handle identity characteristics raises a number of critical ethical concerns, especially given the spatiotemporal dynamics of these characteristics. In this paper I question whether human identity characteristics can and should be represented, recognized, or reasoned about by robots, with special attention paid to the construct of race, due to its relative lack of consideration within the HRI community. As I will argue, while there are a number of well-warranted reasons why HRI researchers might want to enable robotic consideration of identity characteristics, these reasons are outweighed by a number of key ontological, perceptual, and deployment-oriented concerns. This argument raises troubling questions as to whether robots should even be able to understand or generate descriptions of people, and how they would do so while avoiding these ethical concerns. Finally, I conclude with a discussion of what this means for the HRI community, in terms of both algorithm and robot design, and speculate as to possible paths forward. 
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  8. Deployed social robots are increasingly relying on wakeword-based interaction, where interactions are human-initiated by a wakeword like “Hey Jibo”. While wakewords help to increase speech recognition accuracy and ensure privacy, there is concern that wakeword-driven interaction could encourage impolite behavior because wakeword-driven speech is typically phrased as commands. To address these concerns, companies have sought to use wake- word design to encourage interactant politeness, through wakewords like “⟨Name⟩, please”. But while this solution is intended to encourage people to use more “polite words”, researchers have found that these wakeword designs actually decrease interactant politeness in text-based communication, and that other wakeword designs could better encourage politeness by priming users to use Indirect Speech Acts. Yet there has been no previous research to directly compare these wakewords designs in in-person, voice-based human-robot interaction experiments, and previous in-person HRI studies could not effectively study carryover of wakeword-driven politeness and impoliteness into human-human interactions. In this work, we conceptually reproduced these previous studies (n=69) to assess how the wakewords “Hey ⟨Name⟩”, “Excuse me ⟨Name⟩”, and “⟨Name⟩, please” impact robot-directed and human-directed politeness. Our results demonstrate the ways that different types of linguistic priming interact in nuanced ways to induce different types of robot-directed and human-directed politeness. 
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