Human-Machine Communication: Addressing the Challenge of Emerging Technology in Communication Research
The Charles H. Sandage Department of Advertising is hosting Andrea L. Guzman at a brownbag lunch on Friday, Feb. 8, 12-1 p.m., in 123 Greg Hall. Guzman is an assistant professor of communication at Northern Illinois University.
Abstract: The predominant conceptualization of technology within media scholarship has long been that of a channel. Early media, such as TV and radio, were designed to transmit messages between producers and consumers. It is around this function that technology’s role within communication theory was based. People are communicators, and technology is the mediator. However, emerging media technologies, such as Amazon’s Alexa and automated news-writing programs, are increasingly being designed to function as a type of communicator. How, then, are we as media scholars to make sense of this growing class of technologies that do not fit into our existing models? This is the key question I address by drawing from the emerging area of communication research called Human-Machine Communication. HMC challenges the ontological assumption of machines as mediators that undergirds most of communication research by, instead, theorizing machines in the role of communicator. In doing so, HMC also disrupts the very concept of communication. I explain how technology not only is a channel we interact through but also is a type of communicator we create meaning with. I conclude by discussing the implications for media research.
Bio: Andrea L. Guzman is an assistant professor of communication at Northern Illinois University where her research focuses on Human-Machine Communication, people’s perceptions of artificial intelligence technologies that function as communicators, and the integration of AI into journalism. Guzman has been integral in spearheading the formation of the HMC community within communication and is editor of the volume Human-Machine Communication: Rethinking Communication, Technology, & Ourselves by Peter Lang (2018). Guzman’s research has been published in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Computers in Human Behavior, First Monday, and Communication +1, and has been presented at leading disciplinary and interdisciplinary conferences where it has garnered awards at the National Communication Association and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.