In human-machine communication (HMC), machines are communicative subjects in the creation of meaning. The Computers are Social Actors and constructivist approaches to HMC postulate that humans communicate with machines as if they were people. From this perspective, communication is understood as heavily scripted where humans mindlessly apply human-to-human scripts in HMC. We argue that a critical approach to communication scripts reveals how humans may rely on ableism as a means of sense-making in their relationships with machines. Using the choose-your-own-adventure game Detroit: Become Human as a case study, we demonstrate (a) how ableist communication scripts render machines as both less-than-human and superhuman and (b) how such scripts manifest in control and cyborg anxiety. We conclude with theoretical and design implications for rescripting ableist communication scripts.
Dehnert, M., & Leach, R. B. (2021). Becoming human? Ableism and control in Detroit: Become Human and the implications for human-machine communication. Human-Machine Communication, 2, 137-152. https://doi.org/10.30658/hmc.2.7