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Human-Machine Communication: Rethinking How We Approach Tech Use + Design

April 11, 2018
12:00-2:00pm CST
IIT Institute of Design
565 W Adams St 7th floor
Chicago, IL 60661

For decades, the predominant conceptualization of technology by the engineers designing it was that of a tool. The goal in designing a device’s interface was to facilitate its use. It also was around this conceptualization of technology that the implications of design were understood. The emergence of critical/cultural approaches to the study and design of technology have offered a different view of technology, its development, and its use, one in which cultural values are seen as embedded within technology and enacted within its use and within which a technology’s meaning is not fixed, but emergent.

In this talk, Andrea Guzman will focus on this construction of the meaning of technology between “user” and device within the context of social machines, such as digital assistants and robots, drawing on theory in Human-Machine Communication (HMC), an emerging area of communication research. Historically, communication has been theorized as a human-based activity facilitated by machines. HMC challenges this prevailing paradigm within the study of communication by theorizing machines as communicators. Technology is not something we talk through or talk to, it is something we communicate with. She will argue that it is in and through our communication with devices that we create meaning with machines, and explain the implications for not only how we understand technology but also how we see ourselves. She will conclude by discussing how such a reconceptualization of technology and its use, as well as how we theorize communication, can inform the design and study of technology. 

About the speaker

Andrea Guzman, assitant professor at Northern Illinois University
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 the communication discipline and is editor of the forthcoming volume Human-Machine Communication: Rethinking Communication, Technology, & Ourselves by Peter Lang (expected 2018). Guzman’s research has been published in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, First Monday, and Communication +1, and has been presented at leading disciplinary and interdisciplinary conferences where it garnered awards at the National Communication Association and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Guzman is a Kopenhaver Center Fellow.