Technological and social evolutions have prompted operational, phenomenological, and ontological shifts in communication processes. These shifts, we argue, trigger the need to regard human and machine roles in communication processes in a more egalitarian fashion. Integrating anthropocentric and technocentric perspectives on communication, we propose an agent-agnostic framework for human-machine communication. This framework rejects exclusive assignment of communicative roles (sender, message, channel, receiver) to traditionally held agents and instead focuses on evaluating agents according to their functions as a means for considering what roles are held in communication processes. As a first step in advancing this agent-agnostic perspective, this theoretical paper offers three potential criteria that both humans and machines could satisfy: agency, interactivity, and influence. Future research should extend our agent-agnostic framework to ensure that communication theory will be prepared to deal with an ostensibly machine-inclusive future.



Author ORCID Identifier

Jaime Banks 0000-0002-7598-4337

Maartje M. A. de Graaf 0000-0001-6152-552X