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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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The development of Human-Machine Communication as an area of study has been a collective effort. My gratitude goes foremost to Steve Jones and David J. Gunkel who have been key collaborators in formally establishing and growing the study of HMC. Steve and David each have served as my advisor during different points in my academic career and still provide me with invaluable mentorship for which I am grateful. I also am glad that Autumn P. Edwards, Chad Edwards, and Patric R. Spence have joined us in this endeavor. They and the Communication and Social Robotics Labs they direct have been invaluable to building the HMC community. Part of this growth also has included contributions from Austin Lee and Jake Liang. I am thankful to all of you for providing your time and talent to facilitating the formation of HMC and leading HMC events, but, most of all, I am humbled by your encouragement and ongoing support.

Several members of the HMC community also deserve special acknowledgement. During one of our early conversations, Seth C. Lewis asked me: “What is Human-Machine Communication, anyway?” It is a fundamental question, if not the fundamental question, of HMC that I take up in this book’s introduction. My answer to that question is better today because of my collaboration with Seth on related projects and our ongoing dialogue—particularly more of his excellent questions—around the theoretical dimensions of HMC. Gina Neff also has been an excellent mentor to me: It...

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