AI design. Artificial Intelligence Design – and you can become an AI Designer (of course!). Recently I’ve been bombarded by thoughts, ideas, robots, the end of the world and this new name – the AI designer. So what is an AI designer after all? And what does it have to do with robots taking control of human life?
An AI designer, according to definitions, is nothing more than a designer, who perhaps uses AI as a tool to solve human problems. As mentioned in this post published in Medium and later in the ACM interactions, AI designer is a designer, who knows at least what AI could do to solve a problem. That is an important position to take in the middle of the courses in Machine Learning, coding, AI, chatbots, robots, Deep Learning and all those things that we are trying to learn as soon as possible.
Why are we talking about AI and why everyone is running against time? Well, according to this article published in different sites and places, it looks like Facebook created an AI that can talk to each other. That means that the AI created its own language and now we lost completely control. So if we don’t know this language, we are in trouble! What can they be talking about? Destroying the human race? Or perhaps it is just a normal aspect of the evolution of AI, after all having a simpler language might be more logical and easier for them to communicate.
Other people are now worried that they might lose their jobs because AI is so much better. Well, it will depend on your job. Apparently, skills that jobs require are more human and we should be doing more “human” work. However, this brings into question what is a “human” work? Perhaps this will change the economy and there would be no human capital to sell or maybe there would be a new definition for human capital. Some say that the best way is to take the robotic work out of the work. Or just like Don Norman said, it is all about “human technology teamwork“. With this in mind, I believe that design will be the key element in all this new era. This is why I will try to put in points what I think we as designers should do and understand.
1- Problem definition
As mentioned in this article from designer Nina (Zhuxiaona) Wei in the ACM Interactions (one of my fav magazines to read) – it is all about the problem and what is the design problem you’re trying to solve. Just like a normal research – you need to know what is the problem you’re trying to solve before even thinking about a solution that would involve AI. Maybe AI is not the solution – the end.
2- Users are still getting used to it
It is not mainstream to talk to your phone, for example. Okay, this might change in the future when you actually control everything with your mind (please read Michio Kaku – The future of the Mind). But until there we are trying to make everything a bit more personal, and transforming AI into “human”. For example, IBM wants to create something that is not awkward with AI with personality and social skills. Sounds cool, but are we ready for it? And do we need it? Or are we just replacing things for something that it is easier? That reminds me of the movie Her. Is AI just replacing something that as humans we cannot achieve? (time to think).
3- Users are humans (yes!)
This is what we forget sometimes and we presume that AI is so much better than humans. After all, AI is smart and doesn’t need much to survive. But AI can’t understand comics! That sounds boring! So the question here is what makes us humans and therefore different from AI? Is this just about emotions, feelings, spirituality? Or is there something more? Can we strengthen our human character by giving more attention to it?
4- Embrace the teamwork
What does it mean to work with a machine that thinks just like a person? As mentioned by Donald Norman in this video below, AI should be a reinforcement, not replacement itself. In very black and white words – let’s leave AI to do the repetitive work and then we deal with creativity – other jobs that would require imagination. Perhaps in that way AI could work (time to think 2) and it would leave us to do the “fun” part. Definitely this will change the way we do things and this is quite exciting because this post could have been so much more insightful if we had some help from technology, for example. Perhaps we should embrace technology and work together, find new roles and new dynamics. Would AI become more than an extension of our human life? I don’t know. But for now, as designers, we have a huge responsibility.
5- With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Uncle Ben was right – now more than ever. Imagine that you can now build all those AI entities that think and act like humans – this shows power. The power is actually in our hands, but not as a way to control other people (hope not) but to build things that would actually help other people and give them autonomy. I think that one part of this teamwork mentioned by Norman is autonomy. The interaction starts with us, as input, in some way, no matter how – if it is just pressing a button or just blinking or just thinking. The power is in our mind and what we do with it. This gets very philosophical in some point (sorry but I love it some times and it makes me question everything), but it is important that we include this in our thinking.
What inspired me to talk about that was basically the popularity of the topic and a few concerns as a designer. For example, another thing to think about is the trendy word chatbot. Since it is a “robot”, then it is considered as AI, after all it talks alone and replies to people on time. But are chatbots just a selection of answers to a question? Or can they be more intelligent and give you predictions, something that “thinks” – instead of a memorisation of answers? We will come back to that later.
In some way, I still think that movements against AI and technology may rise if it gets out of our control. We like to have autonomy, to have a sense of control and perhaps the only way to do this is to be offline, disconnected, living in fields without Internet (if this is possible). We are in the middle of this transformation and it is our responsibility to think the best way to deal with it.
So, if you’re a designer and don’t know what to do in all this AI bubble and you don’t know coding or machine learning or all those things, just take a step back. Think: why is this important? Why AI? What problems is it trying to solve – if any? Pause to think.
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