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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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9. A Robot Will Take Your Job. How Does That Make You Feel? Examining Perceptions of Robots in the Workplace (Patric R. Spence / David Westerman / Xialing Lin)


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9. A Robot Will Take Your Job. How Does That Make You Feel? Examining Perceptions of Robots in the Workplace


The fourth industrial revolution has reshaped not only the public’s life but also the global workforce. From intelligent digital agents to self-driving vehicles and semi-autonomous robots, the technology evolution enables robotics to perform human-like tasks with high facility. Algorithms and automation can connect vast amounts of information at a speed impossible for humans, optimizing resource collaborations. Robotics and artificial intelligence have permeated a wide range of industries such as customer service, healthcare, logistics, transportation, and home maintenance; it frees people from trifles and drudgery to more “creative” tasks, achieving work that is more efficient. Yet, instances such as the robot-staffed stores in Japan with cloud-based, emotion-sensing humanoid robots also highlight job displacement by robotics due to technology advances (Strange, January 27, 2016).

John Maynard Keynes warned of a new disease of technological unemployment (1963), and this was echoed by Minsky (1980), who suggested that teleoperators and automation might take the place of many human workers. This has already started taking place; although different countries have seen different rates of robotic worker adoption. For example, between 2008 and 2011, China saw a 210% increase in the number of robots per 10,000 employees in manufacturing, the United States saw a 41% increase, while Japan actually experienced a 1% decrease during...

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