[CITASA] CFP: An edited collection on Socialbots

Robert W. Gehl rob at robertwgehl.org
Sat Jun 21 18:25:48 EDT 2014

Robert W. Gehl, University of Utah
Maria Bakardjieva, University of Calgary

A CFP for an edited collection of essays exploring SOCIALBOTS

Many users of the Internet are aware of the existence 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. A new form of software robot has been making its presence felt
in social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter lately – the
socialbot. Unlike more familiar 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.

Socialbot makers have suggested or demonstrated many uses for these
'bots, including exposing security flaws in Facebook, healing social
rifts, bringing brands to life, quelling dissent on the behalf of
governments, creating the appearance of popular support for politicians,
infiltrating activist networks, or correcting misinformation circulating
online. Socialbots can automate friending, liking, and tweeting, playing
the odds to gain followers. They are built out of datasets produced by
social media users and thus reflect our social media use back on us.
They exploit our penchant for "hot" profiles, the triadic closure
principle, and our need to make an impression and to get feedback. But
they also give us a neutral sounding board, a means to pass the day, and
a new form of friendship.

As a cutting-edge AI technology, socialbots are only the latest in a
long line of mechanical and software-based creations that humans live,
talk, work, love, and struggle with. From the Mechanical Turk to the
Turing Test to ELIZA to Cleverbot, from robotic factory workers to
emotionally-attuned customer service telephone systems, from Rossum's
Universal Robots to Robby to HAL to Colossus to Data, AI presents us
with a wide range of philosophical, ethical, political, and economic
quandaries. Who benefits from the use of robots? Who loses? Does a robot
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? Can research be done to create these bots but
still uphold the ideal of informed consent?

As a way to explore these questions – and many others – we seek chapter
proposals for an edited book. Potential topics could be:
-- Socialbots and artificial intelligence
-- Genealogies of bots on the Internet
-- Socialbots and big data
-- Utopian and dystopian socialbot futures
-- Uses of socialbots
-- Socialbots and politics
-- Socialbots and marketing
-- Socialbots and posthumanism
-- Human/machine relations
-- Political economy of socialbots
-- Sociable bots in popular culture
-- Ways to program socialbots
-- What socialbots tell us about social media
-- Socialbots and human sociality
-- Socialbots and anonymity
-- Socialbots and identity politics
-- Socialbots versus spambots

We encourage proposals from people working in a wide range of fields,
including communication, humanities, social sciences, computer science,
software engineering, software studies, science and technology studies,
philosophy, marketing, and media and cultural studies. We want
accessible, well-researched chapters that not only inform others about
these 'bots, but also establish socialbots as a new object of inquiry
from many perspectives.

We are currently talking with several academic publishers about this
edited collection.

-- 500 word abstracts due to socialbotbook at robertwgehl.org: October 15, 2014
-- Notification about abstract acceptance: November 15, 2014
-- Full chapters due: March 15, 2015


Rob Gehl
Robert W. Gehl
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication
Affiliated Faculty, University Writing Program
The University of Utah
www.robertwgehl.org | @robertwgehl
Sent from our OS on our Internet

Please read my book: Reverse Engineering Social Media

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