Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Ethnography’s Role in Seeing the AI’s Blind Spots: Living amongst AI—Agency of the Household


Cite this article:

2019 EPIC Proceedings, ISSN 1559-8918,

PechaKucha Presentation

Home automation has made big promises for utilizing intelligent technology to help the lives of everyday people, but the potential of the technology can only be as good as our understanding of the world we are trying to improve. In this PechaKucha, I share insights from my years of conducting ethnography in homes where families have lived alongside AI and automated technology. Our initial tries at intelligent technology in the home were modeled after our own assumptions, but it failed to account for the full variables of the ‘household’, which had an agency of its own. When technology has the potential to disrupt not only our workflows, but relationships between people in the home, it’s the responsibility of technologists and ethnographers to provide the critical human perspective necessary for technology to live in harmony with people.

LaiYee Ho is the co-founder of Delve (, where she pours her years of experience as a UX researcher and designer into creating tools for researchers. Before beginning her entrepreneurial journey, she was one of the first UX designers of the Amazon Fire TV. She then went on to build the first UX research team at a smart home automation startup, where she learned how to uncover human motivations. She has a degree in Information Science from Cornell and lives in New York City.