Human-Machine Communication

ICA Pre-Conference 2019

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Communicating with Machines: Boundless Imagination

Date: May 24, 2019 (Friday)

Time: 8:30AM - 4:00PM

Location: Washington Hilton Hotel, Washington DC

In concert with the International Communication Association's conference theme of "Communication Beyond Boundaries," our fourth annual pre/post-conference on Human-Machine Communication (HMC) explores communication between humans and digital interlocutors, and its innovative theoretical and practical applications that cross the boundaries of research domains. We invite scholars from across ICA’s divisions and a variety of epistemological and methodological backgrounds to discuss their work related to HMC, which encompasses Human-Computer Interaction, Human-Robot Interaction, and Human-Agent Interaction, in this full-day pre-conference.

Past Events

2018 ICA Pre-Conference, Communicating with Machines: Theory and Practice, Prague, Czech Republic

2017 ICA Pre-Conference, Communicating with Machines: Interventions with Digital Agents, San Diego, California

2016 ICA Post-Conference, Communicating with Machines: The Rising Power of Digital Interlocutors in Our Lives, Fukuoka, Japan

2015 ICA BlueSky Workshop, Beyond Human: Developing Human-Machine Communication Research, San Juan, Puerto Rico


As information communication technology continues to develop and merge, we are increasingly interacting with digital interlocutors such as voice-based agents, chatbots, and social robots. We also are sending and receiving messages to and from wearable devices. We directly interact with the technologies surrounding us, and digital entities have been and continue to stand in for humans in everyday communication contexts. In the past few years alone, a whole host of robotic and digital technologies, from Apple's Siri to Softbank’s Pepper, have been made available to the average consumer. This recent surge of digital interlocutors into everyday routines has been accompanied by questions regarding the ramifications of these technologies and our interactions with them. Scholars and practitioners of communication are uniquely situated to be leaders in discussions in Human-Machine Communication (HMC).

In HMC, technology is conceptualized as more than a channel or medium: it enters into the role of a communicator, and the messages flow between and among humans and machines (Guzman, 2018). In this preconference, we will focus on the individual, cultural, and philosophical implications of such interactions. Possible topic areas for participant presentations include, but are not limited to, communicative practices between humans and digital interlocutors, the incorporation of AI into journalism and other media industries, the integration of artificial entities into private, professional, and political spaces, the cultural discourse surrounding these technologies, relationship dynamics between humans and machines, reinterpretations and representations of humans as digital entities, and intercultural aspects of HMC. We invite scholars from ICA’s many divisions to discuss their work regarding the individual, cultural, and philosophical implications of machine/digital interventions. We seek to raise awareness of and further develop HMC research and the scholarly community surrounding it.

Our goal is to provide a space for participants to present their research and engage in conversation with one another. We have adopted a two-tiered format in which some scholars will be invited to deliver a paper presentation while others will be invited to take part in a poster session. More details are forthcoming.


Deadline for submissions: January 31, 2019

Notification of acceptance: February 18, 2019

Proposals (750-1,000 words excluding references) should detail what the scholar plans to present and how it relates to the overall focus of the preconference on human-machine communication. We are interested in all forms of scholarship (theoretical, empirical, etc.).

Proposals should be submitted as an attachment to Austin Lee at

General attendees

After all the presenters have registered, we will have about 20 spots left for other attendees. If you would like to attend this pre-conference, please send an email to Austin Lee at for further directions.


Support the formation of a Human-Machine Communication Interest Group at ICA

After years of successful HMC events at the annual ICA conference, we are submitting the paperwork to become a formal ICA Interest Group. Part of this process requires that we collect signatures of support from current ICA members. These signatures will accompany our formal petition to the association for a vote by the Board of Directors.

Add your signature here

For more information about the proposed HMC Interest Group at ICA



Autumn Edwards

Western Michigan University


Chad Edwards

Western Michigan University


Patric Spence

University of Central Florida


David J. Gunkel

Northern Illinois University


Andrea Guzman

Northern Illinois University


Steve Jones

University of Illinois - Chicago


Austin Lee

Chapman University


Seungahn Nah

University of Oregon