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Human-Machine Communication

Rethinking Communication, Technology, and Ourselves


Edited By Andrea L. Guzman

From virtual assistants to social robots, people are increasingly interacting with intelligent and highly communicative technologies throughout their daily lives. This shift from communicating with people to communicating with people and machines challenges how scholars have theorized and studied communication. Human-Machine Communication: Rethinking Communication, Technology, and Ourselves addresses this transition in how people communicate and who, or what, they communicate with and the implications of this evolution for communication research. Geared toward scholars interested in people’s interactions with technology, this book serves as an introduction to human-machine communication (HMC) as a specific area of study within communication (encompassing human-computer interaction, human-robot interaction, and human-agent interaction) and to the research possibilities of HMC. This collection includes papers presented as part of a scholarly conference on HMC, along with invited works from noted researchers. Topics include defining HMC, theoretical approaches to HMC, applications of HMC, and the larger implications of HMC for self and society. The research presented here focuses on people’s interactions with multiple technologies (artificial intelligence, algorithms, and robots) used within different contexts (home, workplace, education, journalism, and healthcare) from a variety of epistemological and methodological approaches (empirical, rhetorical, and critical/cultural). Overall, Human-Machine Communication provides readers with an understanding of HMC in a way that supports and promotes further scholarly inquiry in a growing area of communication research.

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6. Theorizing Verbally Persuasive Robots (S. Austin Lee / Yuhua (Jake) Liang)


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6. Theorizing Verbally Persuasive Robots


Robots carry a tremendous persuasive potential to influence their human partners. Research has already demonstrated the effectiveness of robots as persuaders in a variety of contexts, including soliciting donations at a museum (Siegel, Breazeal, & Norton, 2009), increasing awareness for energy conservation (Ham & Midden, 2014), and encouraging people to lead a healthy life (Kidd & Breazeal, 2007). Robots can function as compelling persuaders because when people interact with technology, such as robots, computers, and agents, they often treat those machines as social beings and apply social rules to their interaction (Nass & Moon, 2000; Reeves & Nass, 1996). This human tendency allows robots to capitalize on message strategies to increase their persuasiveness toward human partners.

The robots’ ability to persuade humans becomes increasingly important when humans and robots collaborate as a team (i.e., co-roboting; National Science Foundation, 2016). Robots already occupy a wide range of application space, which includes co-defender, co-explorer, and co-worker. In those settings, the team’s performance depends partly on how well robots can persuade their human partners to achieve the team’s goal. It is because successful collaboration builds upon a symbiotic relationship where both communicators leverage their relative strengths in the planning and execution of tasks. In the manufacturing environment, for example, collaborative activities between humans and robots can be cost-effective and appreciably more productive than activities involving either group working...

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