The rampant misinformation amid the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates an obvious need for persuasion. This article draws on the fields of digital rhetoric and rhetoric of science, technology, and medicine to explore the persuasive threats and opportunities machine communicators pose to public health. As a specific case, Alexa and the machine’s performative similarities to the Oracle at Delphi are tracked alongside the voice-based assistant’s further resonances with the discourses of expert systems to develop an account of the machine’s rhetorical energies. From here, machine communicators are discussed as optimal deliverers of inoculations against misinformation in light of the fact that their performances are attended by rhetorical energies that can enliven persuasions against misinformation.



Author ORCID Identifier

Miles C. Coleman: 0000-0002-5321-7997