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's called 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.
No matter if you for one welcome our new robot overlords, or if you grab your decompiler to wage war on the newest software agents, you're going to want to buy this book!