In this essay, we introduce the 10 articles comprising Volume 2 (2021) of Human-Machine Communication, each of which is innovative and offers a substantial contribution to the field of human-machine communication (HMC). As a collection, these articles move forward the HMC project by touching on four layers of important discourse: (1) updates to theoretical frameworks and paradigms, including Computers as Social Actors (CASA), (2) examination of ontology and prototyping processes, (3) critical analysis of gender and ability/disability relations, and (4) extension of HMC scholarship into organizational contexts. Building upon the insights offered by the contributing authors and incorporating perspectives coming from the historical, sociological, and semiotic (and hermeneutic) disciplines, we discuss challenges of applying CASA in HMC to suggest reframing in light of long-standing human experiences with automata, objective culture, narration (fiction), and symbols. Whereas CASA’s “old brains engage new media” formulation leads naturally to a focus on mindless versus mindful attribution processes, these hermeneutic and semiotic interpretations of robots/media as narrative texts and symbolic humans beg scholarly attention to issues of literacy and representation, respectively. Finally, we advance a series of justifications/calls for future research avenues.



Author ORCID Identifier

Leopoldina Fortunati 0000-0001-9691-6870

Autumn Edwards 0000-0002-5963-197X