Human-Machine Communication Culture: Artificial Intelligence, Media and Cultures in a Global Context

Special Issue: Human-Machine Communication Cultures: Artificial Intelligence, Media and Cultures in a Global Context

Guest Editors:

Simone Natale, University of Turin, Italy, ((simone.natale /at/ )

Deqiang Ji, Communication University of China, ( (jideqiang /at/ .cn)

Time Schedule:

  • 31 July 2022: a 300-word abstract and a 100-word bio, mentioning the title of the special issue in the subject line, to the guest editors: (simone.natale /at/ and (jideqiang /at/
  • 5 September 2022: authors of accepted authors will be notified
  • 28 February 2023: full paper submission


Traditionally, communication studies investigate the social, cultural and political dimensions of human communication, especially but not exclusively when mediated by technology. Recent advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) pose a new challenge to existing frameworks: technologies such as voice assistants, social media bots, and the application of automatic text generators to news media not only play the role of the channel through which communication is achieved, as in traditional definitions of the term medium (McLuhan, 1964), but also the role of the communicator (Natale, 2021) or moderator (Gillespie, 2018), since they are programmed to produce communicative messages directed at human interlocutors. The new area of inquiry called Human-Machine Communication emerged in response to this challenge, with the objective to apply to communications between humans and machines the conceptual, theoretical and methodological tools originally developed in communication and media studies to examine communications between humans (Guzman & Lewis, 2019; Gunkel, 2020).

Human-machine communication, however, is still often declined in the singular form. Too little consideration is given to the fact that communication is always situated in specific cultural, linguistic and national environments, which in turn inform the situations and outcomes of all communication processes (Gunaratne, 2010; Xiangzhong, 2016). This special issue of /Global Media and China/ aims to contribute to existing efforts (e.g. Lawrence, 2021; Komarraju et al., 2021) to fill this gap. Contributions are invited that examine and enlighten the plurality of human-machine communication cultures, both at a diachronic (i.e. historically across time) and at a synchronic (i.e. geographically across different areas of the globe, including but not limited to China) level. As a whole, the special issue will show that if we want to understand the impact of AI technologies in the contemporary world, we need to better situate the cultural and social dynamics that contribute to shape the meanings and the pragmatic outcomes of these technologies for human societies across the globe.

We encourage submission of essays that illustrate the above-mentioned dynamics with specific cases/ examples/ empirical studies. We are especially interested in research based within the broad remits of communication and media studies, but interdisciplinary collaborations that highlight the relationships with other areas are also encouraged.

Selected articles will address questions such as:

  • How do different linguistic, cultural and national dimensions impact on the functioning and outcome of AI technologies?
  • How can we better understand the plurality of algorithmic imaginaries and human-machine communication cultures in a global world?
  • How does AI and human-machine communication change global media industries around the world? How do they affect specific media sectors, such as journalism, computer games, social media, film and broadcasting?
  • How are technologies such as AI and robots domesticated in different cultural environments?
  • How do human-machine communication cultures change across time, both in the history of AI and in the longer history of media technologies?
  • How can the scope of human-machine communication research be enlarged to encompass wider historical trajectories and geographical boundaries?


Gillespie, T. (2018). /Custodians of the Internet : platforms, content moderation, and the hidden decisions that shape social media/. Yale University Press.

Gunaratne, S. A. (2010). De-Westernizing communication/social science research: Opportunities and limitations. /Media, //C//ulture & //S//ociety/, /32/(3), 473-500.

Gunkel, D. J. (2020). /An Introduction to Communication and Artificial Intelligence/. Polity. Guzman, A. L., & Lewis, S. C. (2019). Artificial intelligence and communication: A Human–Machine Communication research agenda. /New Media & Society/, /22/(1), 70–86.

Komarraju, S. A., Arora, P., & Raman, U. (2021). Agency and servitude in platform labour: A feminist analysis of blended cultures. /Media, Culture & Society/, published online before print 10 July 2021, doi: 10.1177/01634437211029890

Lawrence, H. M. (2021). Siri Disciplines. In T. S. Mullaney, B. Peters, M. Hicks, & K. Philip (Eds.), /Your computer is on fire/. MIT Press.

McLuhan, M. (1964). /Understanding media: The extensions of man/. McGraw-Hill.

Natale, S. (2021). /Deceitful Media: Artificial Intelligence and Social Life after the Turing Test/. Oxford University Press.

Xiangzhong, L. (2016). New hope, new global media and China. /Global Media and China/, /1/(1-2), 5-6.