Introduction: Andreas Hepp

Andreas Hepp is Professor for Media and Communications at the ZeMKI (Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research), University of Bremen, Germany. In his 2020 article1, mentioned in the introduction to this chapter, he distinguishes three kinds of communicative bots: artificial companions, social bots and work bots. For Hepp, communicative bots are characterised through a double embodiment: a communicative embodiment, referring to the bots' human-like representation, and an infrastructural embodiment, referring to the bots being embedded in the materiality of the infrastructure on which they are active.

Thinking about the bots in terms of embodiment helps to situate them in relation to digital communication infrastructures and their user base.

We will introduce the work of Andreas Hepp through the following questions:

  • What are communicative bots and why are they important to study now?
  • What main types of communicative bots are there?
  • How do bots relate to digital infrastructures?
  • How does communication change in the presence of bots?
  • What role do they play in the construction of the social world and what does this say about their relation to power relations in society?


  1. Hepp, Andreas. "Artificial companions, social bots and work bots: communicative robots as research objects of media and communication studies" Media, Culture & Society Volume 42 (2020): 1410-1426.