This is Part Two in series of posts on machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the UX design process. The first post was entitled “7 Truths for UXers Who Work With Machine Learning”. Here, we’ll focus on how Artificial Intelligence can influence the user experience.
Exciting new technologies present opportunities for transformation and growth that were unheard of just a few years ago. One example, of course, is Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the ways it’s already changing the design and development field. It’s incredibly exciting to be a part of this fast-paced world but for UX designers, it doesn’t come without a few caveats.
The Surge of New Technologies Compels Us to Reconsider the Best Experience for Our Users
As UX designers, we must stay grounded in the customer’s needs, passing each new technology through the filter of our users’ experience. From conversational interfaces to smarter chatbots to music-recommending apps, it all has to benefit the user, ultimately, or your product becomes a mere showcase for new technology.
“If you aren’t aligned with a human need, you’re just going to build a very powerful system to address a very small, or perhaps nonexistent, problem.” Google Design
To get right down to it, the trick is to know when the user needs each technology and if it is even absolutely necessary.
So, What Exactly are We Talking About Here? What is AI?
AI is the idea of building machines that are capable of thinking and performing tasks like humans do. For example, your smartphone can send a message for you thanks to voice recognition.
AI focuses on imitating human thought processes. This is thanks to machine learning, which is often confused with AI.
But don’t make the mistake of confusing AI with machine learning. Machine learning is only a part of AI.
Think of machine learning like this: instead of having to learn to do everything step by step, machines can be programmed to think like humans, they can learn to work through observation, and they can even learn from their mistakes, as humans do.
Some examples of what can be done with AI:
- Recognize objects in images
- Recognize emotions in images of faces
- Fly a drone
- Detect a range of conditions from images
- Analyze the genetic code of DNA to detect genomic conditions
- Verify your identity
- Schedule meetings by email
- Recommend songs you’ll like
But as developers, how do we know when AI is necessary? Google Design answered our question with three things to look for.
Three Ways UX Elevates AI
If you’re wondering how to tell when AI is going to be appropriate for your project, here are three guidelines to help you keep everything in perspective, UX-wise.
1. It’s Addressing a Real Human Need
When we think of using AI, first we need to know what the user needs and how we can solve those needs. For example, many of us would be thrilled to experience what it’s like to go back in time. However, we know that it isn’t yet possible. So when we think of our users’ needs, we must be realistic and consider the current possibilities and the likely scenarios.
On the other hand, let’s not forget that new technologies give us the possibility of creating solutions that are unimaginable today. I’m sure there are already many people working on how to go back in time!
2. It’s Guiding the Intelligence
When you want to start using AI, you need to keep in mind that if a human can’t perform the task, neither can AI. However, machines can make things easier for us. Here we have a great point: we need machines to help us, we need AI to make our life simpler.
“If a human can’t perform the task,
then neither can an AI.” Google Design
3. It’s Building Trust
Unlike machines, human beings have what we call “common sense”. In short, this is the ability to base our thought processes on our previous experiences in order to understand, reason and act in the face of an event.
AI is assisted by Machine Learning but no machine has the ability to learn as a human does. A machine needs to make mistakes several times to understand what the problem is before it learns to solve it. A human being can solve a problem on the first attempt, thanks to common sense.
Never underestimate the importance of this key difference. If you do, you’re in danger of making assumptions and exaggerating the capabilities of your product to solve problems across the board.
Incorporating the latest trends in our products will take us to the cusp of the market but we must always take into account our users. Hopefully, the three concepts you’ve just read about should help you in that regard. Remember to keep a human point of view when deciding whether and how to use powerful new technologies. As always, it’s the people who will be the ones to give value to our product, not the technology itself.