Department of Communication Associate Professor Robert W. Gehl has published a new
edited collection, co-edited with Maria Bakardjieva of the University of Calgary.
It is titled Socialbots and Their Friends: Digital Media and the Automation of Sociality.
Many users of the Internet are aware of bots: automated programs that work behind
the scenes to come up with search suggestions, check the weather, filter emails, or
clean up Wikipedia entries. More recently, a new software robot has been making its
presence felt in social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter – the socialbot.
However, unlike other bots, socialbots are built to appear human. While a weatherbot
will tell you if it's sunny and a spambot will incessantly peddle Viagra, socialbots
will ask you questions, have conversations, like your posts, retweet you, and become
your friend. All the while, if they're well-programmed, you won't know that you're
tweeting and friending with a robot.
Who benefits from the use of software robots? Who loses? Does a bot deserve rights?
Who pulls the strings of these bots? Who has the right to know what about them? What
does it mean to be intelligent? What does it mean to be a friend? Socialbots and Their
Friends: Digital Media and the Automation of Sociality is one of the first academic
collections to critically consider the socialbot and tackle these pressing questions.
The book features essays by Peggy Weil, Guillaume Latzko-Toth, Andrea L. Guzman, Florian
Muhle, Adrienne Massanari, Keiko Nishimura, Grant Bollmer, Chris Rodley, Stefano DePaoli,
Leslie Ball, Natalie Coull, John Isaacs, Angus MacDonald, Jonathan Letham, Tim Graham,
Robert Ackland, and David Gunkel, and the co-editors.
Whether you welcome our new robot overlords, or would rather grab your decompiler
to wage war on the newest software agents, this book is a must-read! It can be purchased