Document Type

Book Chapter




authorship wikipedia intellectual property




Rhetoric and Composition

Additional Information

In her 2007 Rhetoric Society Quarterly essay on automation and agency, Carolyn Miller explored the consequences of allowing bots to grade compositions written by human students. Her conclusions extend previous conversations in the field that describe agency as bifurcated and illusory. In this brief essay, I draw on her work along with other rhetoricians and legal scholars to explore some of the implications of using bots to write and edit texts in Wikipedia. Most particularly, I'm interested in the question of whether or not a machine that writes can be considered an author in either a legal or theoretical sense. This question has concerned intellectual property specialists since at least 1969, when a paper on the subject by Karl Milde appeared in the Journal of the Patent Office Society, and it's an increasingly relevant topic these days as our mundane textual environments become ever more automated.