Veranstaltung: Conference “Voice Asisstants in Private Homes: Media, Data and Language in Interaction and Discourse”, Universität Siegen, 08.-09.05.2023

Voice Asisstants in Private Homes: Media, Data and Language in Interaction and Discourse


We cordially invite you to the conference organized by project B06 on 8 and 9 May 2023:

“Voice Assistants in Private Homes: Media, Data and Language in Interaction and Discourse”.

Voice assistants, also known as “Intelligent personal assistants” (IPAs), have been around for almost a decade. They can be found as smart speakers in private households where they are used to support the organisation of everyday domestic life and as a platform for controlling smart home devices; at the same time, they have been added to other devices: smartphones and cars are equipped with IPAs. While they are advertised as the newest addition to a digitally-connected and thus smart lifestyle , they have come under scrutiny, because the devices provide the manufacturers with data of the users – among other things from a particularly protected area, the domestic private sphere.

The conference “Voice Assistants in Private Homes” aims to bring together analyses of the concrete use and adoption of the devices and services, the assessments by the users and the discussion about the exploitation and utilisation of the data. Special attention will be paid to the IPA’s mode of operation. Unlike other media technologies, applications with voice-user interfaces rely on spoken commands and feedback; with chatbots or virtual agents, written-based or hybrid applications are also in use. Both modes, however, suggest that „natural language“ can be used with machines, in contrast to the machine-based syntax of command-line interfaces and point-and-click-interfaces. The associated data practices and analysis models as well as the specifics of the exchange between humans and machines – also in multi-person constellations – will be the focus of the conference and will be discussed in an integrated way. Accordingly, perspectives from conversation and media linguistics, media sociology, sociology of evaluation, surveillance studies, the critique of political economy and thus aspects of consumer research, domestication research, pragmatist and praxeological sociology will be brought together to shed light on the practical mediation of users, devices, algorithms, data, companies and exploitation. With this, we aim to analyse the phenomenon of IPA use at the level of interaction as well as at the level of perception and evaluation by the subject and at the level of everyday practices in households, and furthermore in relation to global processes of exploitation and data. Thereby we want to provide for a comprehensive look at the transformation and persistence of everyday practices under platformised conditions on the one hand, and at the transformation of usage practices through novel interfaces on the other.


08.05.2023 (deutsch)

11:00–11:15 Begrüßung und Einführung

  • Daniel Stein, Dekan der Philosophischen Fakultät
  • Stephan Habscheid und Dagmar Hoffmann, Projektleitung B06
11:15–12:45 Keynote:

Konsumieren und Überwachen. Von den Praktiken der Kontrolle zu den Technologien des Alltags | Nils Zurawski

12:45–13:45 Mittagspause
13:45–15:30 Panel I:

Intelligente Persönliche Assistenten in der sprachlichen Interaktion

15:30–15:45 Kaffeepause
15:45–18:30 Panel II:

Überwachung und die ökonomische Auswertung von IPA-Daten

18:30 Podiumsdiskussion

Zwischen Komfort und Ausbeutung: Privatheit in Haushalten im Zeitalter der Überwachung durch Smart Technologies

May 9, 2023 (english)

09:30–11:15 a.m. Keynote:

Projecting Life onto Machines | Simone Natale

11:15–11:30 a.m. Coffee Break
11:30 a.m.–1:15 p.m. Panel III:

Intelligent Personal Assistants in Everyday Practice

1:15–2:30 p.m. Lunch break
2:30–4:15 p.m. Panel IV:

User’ Perspectives on the Practical Use Value and Data/Privacy Risks

4:15-4:30 p.m. Coffee Break
4:30–6:15 p.m. Panel V:

Theorizing Voice Assistant Use: Autonomy and Cynicism in the Platform Economy

6:15-6.45 p.m. Concluding remarks and farewell

Stephan Habscheid and Dagmar Hoffmann

Further information can be found here. Specific Information about the program can be found here.