Encounters with Communicative AIs

Organizer: SODA project https://blogs.helsinki.fi/sodaproject/ 

Modern intelligent conversational agents, or communicative AIs, have changed the role of technology from mediating and facilitating communication to being an active social subject that participates in social interaction. The term ‘communicative AI’ refers to devices, applications, and algorithms capable of communicating in natural language and adapting to real-life conversational situations (Guzman & Lewis 2020). In more everyday terms, these applications are known as chatbots, social bots, or virtual assistants. They are typically semi-autonomous and semi-intelligent, that is, they are capable of providing context-aware responses to human communication. These new technologies take part in social interaction as nonhuman communicators through human language (Jones 2014); instead of being designed as interactive objects, they are designed as communicative subjects (Guzman & Lewis 2020). Our world of communication, thus, is becoming a diverse and chimeric fusion of human and machine, characterized by the disruption of dualisms and artificial things that are becoming increasingly alive (e.g., Suchman, 2007; Haraway, 1985), adding further diversity into our contemporary media systems. 

It has been suggested that these advances call for a reconceptualization of the ontological perspectives framing the scholarly understanding of communication (e.g., Guzman & Lewis, 2020). This workshop aims to explore the premises, understandings, interactions, and implications of communicative AIs across a broad range of communication contexts. We welcome diverse and multidisciplinary perspectives from communication studies to human-computer interaction and design studies, and both theoretical and empirical accounts.