Human-Machine Communication

ICA Interest Group



Our group

The Human-Machine Communication (HMC) Interest Group of the International Communication Association (ICA) supports and promotes scholarship regarding communication between people and technologies designed to enact the role of communicator, such as artificial intelligence (AI), robots, digital assistants, smart and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, cyborgs, and virtual and augmented realities.


HMC research focuses on the meaning-making that unfolds when people engage directly with technology as a communicative subject. HMC encompasses the aspects of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), Human-Agent Interaction (HAI), and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) pertaining to technologies that function as communicators. It also includes the philosophical and critical examination of these technologies and their integration into daily life.


HMC research focuses on how people make sense of machines as communicators; the implications of people’s interactions with communicative technology for individuals, organizations, and society. The HMC Interest Group is inclusive of the different theoretical and methodological approaches.



Inaugural Chair

Andrea L. Guzman
Assistant Professor of Communication
Northern Illinois University


Inaugural Vice-Chair

Chad Edwards
Professor of Communication
Western Michigan University


Inaugural Secretary

Steve Jones
Distinguished Professor of Communication
University of Illinois at Chicago


Inaugural Student Representative

Henry Goble
Doctoral Student
Michigan State University


Inaugural International Liaison

Sharon Ringel
University of Haifa


Inaugural Site Admin

Austin Lee
Associate Professor
Chapman University


2020 ICA Pre-Conference:

Open Questions in Human-Machine Communication

May 21, 2020 (Thursday), 08:00 - 17:00

Submisson deadline: Friday, February 7, 2020

Pre-Conference Call for Papers

The fifth annual pre-conference on Human-Machine Communication (HMC) aims to identify and explore the most pressing "open questions" surrounding communication between humans and technologies, such as chatbots, social robots and smart assistants.

For this full-day pre-conference, we invite scholars from across ICA’s divisions and a variety of epistemological and methodological backgrounds to discuss their work in relation to HMC, a broad field of research that encompasses Human-Computer Interaction, Human-Robot Interaction, and Human-Agent Interaction.

Scholars should address what they see as important open questions concerning the exchange of messages and creation of meaning between people and physical or virtual digital interlocutors, toward progressing theoretical and/or practical breakthroughs in relation to communication with these technologies and the discourses surrounding them.

Amongst many other things, submissions might consider questions relating to:

  • Accessibility to such technologies for people with disabilities
  • Uses to which communicative technologies are already being put and might be put in the future
  • Ethical questions around technologies that communicate in humanlike ways
  • Implications of integrating such technologies into people’s daily lives
  • Potential repercussions of the increasing deployment of communicative machines for societies more broadly
  • Specification of boundaries for convergence and divergence between human-human and human-machine communication practices
  • Power relations between chatbots, social robots, smart assistants and humans
  • Social representations and folk models of chatbots, social robots, and smart assistants

However, there are many other topics/themes that are likely to be of interest, so scholars should feel able to identify and address any pressing questions they feel HMC raises or might benefit from considering in their submission. The intention of the pre-conference is to encourage interdisciplinary thinking, approaches and collaborations in considering communication with machines.

Note: If you are interested in publishing a full version of your paper, please consider submitting to the journal, Human-Machine Communication. The journal editors would welcome papers that address the idea of open questions in HMC. The submission deadline is April 1, 2020.


Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre ** ON-SITE**

Cost of Registration & Attendance

Faculty US $75
Student US $50

Deadline for submissions: Friday, February 7, 2020

Submissions should be emailed to

Paper format

Papers should be 750-1000 words excluding references. The paper should detail what the scholar plans to present and how this relates to the overall focus of the pre-conference given above. The pre-conference is open to all sorts of scholarship, both empirical and theoretical, quantitative and qualitative.

Notification of acceptance: Friday, February 21, 2020

The pre-conference will have a two-tiered format. Some scholars will be invited to deliver a paper presentation while others will be invited to take part in a poster session.

  • Autumn Edwards, Western Michigan University, USA
  • Eleanor Sandry, Curtin University, Western Australia
  • Andrea Guzman, Northern Illinois University, USA
  • Chad Edwards, Western Michigan University, USA
  • Steve Jones, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA
  • Patric Spence, University of Central Florida, USA
  • S. Austin Lee, Chapman University, USA
  • David Gunkel, Northern Illinois University, USA
  • Jaime Banks, Texas Tech University, USA
  • Seungahn, Nah, University of Oregon, USA
  • Leopoldina Fortunati, University of Udine, Italy
  • Northern Illinois University, Department of Communication
  • Western Michigan University, School of Communication
  • Communication and Social Robotics Labs
  • Texas Tech University, College of Media & Communication, Human-Machine Comm Lab
  • University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Communication
  • Chapman University, School of Communication, Social Robot Lab

Past Conferences

2019 ICA Pre-Conference, Communicating with Machines: Boundless Imagination, Washington, DC

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


HMC Interest Group on the ICA website:

Official members of the group will receive information about calls and events. Members also have voting rights and can run for office.

When renewing your ICA membership or joining ICA for the first time, select Human-Machine Communication from the list of Interest Groups and Divisions.

Additional Resources

Resources not formally affiliated with this group or ICA but that may be of interest to HMC scholars.


Human-Machine Communication focuses on the theory and practice of communication with and about digital interlocutors. It is open access and publishes articles both online and in print.

E-mail list

Join the general HMC e-mail list for updates