Size: 6 x 9
Pages: 176
Illustrations: 9 b&w halftones

Rhetoric & Communication
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Influential Machines

The Rhetoric of Computational Performance

Miles C. Coleman

Published: Nov 2 2023


Published: Nov 2 2023


Published: Nov 2 2023

OA Ebook
Published: Nov 2 2023


The inclusion of this book in the Open Carolina collection is made possible by the generous funding of

A new framework for understanding how algorithms influence

Web applications offer us conclusions about science. Twitter bots generate art. Machine-learning systems satirize politicians. We live in an era where a substantial share of our private and public communication is machinic. Modern computing machines cannot yet speak for themselves—although the capacities of AI are rapidly expanding—but they generate rhetorical energies as they give advice, entertain, and proffer insight, speaking to human concerns in more-than-human ways and guiding human action.

In Influential Machines Miles C. Coleman looks beyond human communication to interrogate the ways in which the machines and algorithms in our lives make meaning and the implications of their special modes of communication. Using the varied examples of an anti-vax "vaccine calculator," two Twitterbots, and the computational performances of virtual assistants, Coleman asks what machines mean to us as social agents and whether humans are the appropriate reference for designing machine communication. Coleman goes beyond the front and back ends of computing to describe the "deep end" of computing, a site of ambient rhetoric that is essential for understanding how machines move in today's digital world.

Miles C. Coleman is associate professor of communication studies at Rowan University. His research has been published in books and journals including Review of Communication, Journal of Media Ethics, and Human-Machine Communication.

"A groundbreaking book. Coleman develops a highly original and engaging analysis of the rhetorical energies of computational machines."—David J. Gunkel, professor, Northern Illinois University, and author of The Machine Question: Critical Perspectives on AI, Robots, and Ethics

"Coleman dives into 'the deep end' of machinic performances to understand machines as communicators themselves Compelling contemporary examples and robust rhetorical theory make Influential Machines a crucial read for scholars interested in computational rhetoric and communication."—Annette Vee, author of Coding Literacy: How Computer Programming is Changing Writing

"Coleman shows us how misinformation is manufactured, circulated, and felt with the aid of computational processes, and how the rhetorical energies of machines may be important allies in inoculating against the spread of disordered information."—Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher, associate professor and Canada Research Chair in Science, Health, and Technology Communication, University of Waterloo, Canada, and author of On Expertise: Cultivating Character, Goodwill, and Practical Wisdom

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