a book review by GERALD LOMBARDI
The Power of Not Thinking: How Our Bodies Learn and Why We Should Trust Them
2020, 336 pp, Blink Publishing/Bonnier
In The Power of Not Thinking: How Our Bodies Learn and Why We Should Trust Them, Simon Roberts aims to resuscitate the human body from the sepulchre of Western thought, where Descartes and his successors presumably buried it, and to correct popular misconceptions about how we generate knowledge. In the author's words:
"Our intelligence does not just arise from our brains... nor can it be programmed as a set of rules or propositions that enables us to think in particular ways or perform particular actions. Instead, our understanding of the world arises from our bodies’ interactions with and perceptions of the world – and it is through these interactions that our bodies acquire knowledge." (p. 6)
This proposition will be taken for granted by some readers of this review, and by anyone who follows its intellectual touchpoints: embodied cognition, situated learning,...
Ovetta Sampson covers when, how, and where to integrate ethnography and data science in the exploratory research process to have better and more ethical AI product development outcomes. With a combination of lecture, case study examples, and exercises, attendees gained a clear understanding of why making data a stakeholder in user research will create a more ethical and human-centered AI product. This tutorial is created especially for researchers who understand the need to mix ethnography and data science but just don’t know quite how to do it. Topics include:
Bringing data into research planning to help identify and reduce bias
Bringing data science into synthesis to help illuminate system solutions
Bringing data science into insight and design principle generation
Aligning qualitative data and behavioral data
This tutorial was presented in full at EPIC202020. The video includes instructor presentations; discussions and breakout sessions are excluded for the privacy of...
Mad Street Den
Ashwini Asokan is the CEO & Co-Founder of Mad Street Den, a computer vision and artificial intelligence company. The team’s mission is to build models of generalizable intelligence and create meaningful experiences with AI on scale, helping millions of people across the globe to become AI native. Working across US, India, LatAm, Europe, UAE and Japan, the team has been known to build some of the most cutting edge AI tech, while bringing about significant change in how companies think about the future with AI. The company’s first vertical, Vue.ai, helps the retail industry reimagine work and the future of their industry through AI solutions purpose built for them.
Ashwini returned to India from Silicon Valley after more than a decade, to bootstrap her startup which she founded with her husband, Anand Chandrasekaran, a neuroscientist. Ashwini has been exploring how artificial intelligence can be brought out of the science and tech labs of the world, applied meaningfully and made accessible...
CUNY/Data & Society
Technology companies have discovered ethics in the wake of public pressure to consider the consequences of their products. This has been prompted by the finding that machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML/AI) systems, as fundamentally pattern-seeking technologies, can and do exacerbate long-term structural inequalities. Companies and employees also struggle with the challenges posed by the dual-use nature of technology.
This tutorial will prepare you to understand and contribute to the more ethical development and deployment of ML/AI systems. It covers:
An overview of ethical challenges in ML/AI today
An introduction to the development of ML/AI systems, designed to give you insight into the reasoning processes and workflows of technical colleagues and how they generally address issues like accuracy and fairness (no quantitative background required!)
A overview of current efforts to design more ethical ML/AI systems,...
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 (www.delvetool.com), where she pours her years of experience as a UX researcher and designer into creating...
Alliance Innovation Lab – Silicon Valley
Alliance Innovation Lab – Silicon Valley, MIT
Alliance Innovation Lab – Silicon Valley
This paper explores how the design of everyday interactions with artificial intelligence in work systems relates to broader issues of interest to social scientists and ethicists: namely human well-being and social inequality. The paper uses experience designing human interactions with highly automated systems as a lens for looking at the social implications of work design, and argues that what human and automation each do is less important than how human and automation are structured to interact. The Human-Autonomy Teaming (HAT) paradigm, explored in the paper, has been a promising alternative way to think about human interactions with automation in our laboratory's research and development work. We argue that the notion of teaming is particularly useful in that it encourages designers to consider human well-being as central to the operational success...
This case study examines how one Artificial Intelligence (AI) security software team made the decision to abandon a core feature of the product – an interactive Knowledge Graph visualization deemed by prospective buyers as “cool,” “impressive,” and “complex” – in favor of one that its users – security analysts – found easier to use and interpret. Guided by the results of ethnographic and user research, the QRadar Advisor with Watson team created a new knowledge graph (KG) visualization more aligned with how security analysts actually investigate potential security threats than evocative of AI and “the way that the internet works.” This new feature will be released in Q1 2020 by IBM and has been adopted as a component in IBM’s open-source design system. In addition, it is currently being reviewed by IBM as a patent application submission. The commitment of IBM and the team to replace a foundational AI component with one that better aligns to the mental models and practices of its...
This paper reports on the use and perceptions of deployed A.I. and recognition social-material assemblages in China and the USA. A kaleidoscope of “boutique” instantiations is presented to show how meanings are emerging around A.I. and recognition. A model is presented to highlight that not all recognitions are the same. We conclude by noting A.I. and recognition systems challenge current practices for the EPIC community and the field of anthropology....
EPIC2019 Keynote Address, Providence, Rhode Island
SAREETA AMRUTE, Director of Research, Data & Society; Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Washington
Studies on the social effects of computing have enumerated the harms done by AI, social media, and algorithmic decision-making to underrepresented communities in the United States and around the globe. I argue that the approaches of enumerating harms and arguing for inclusion have to be unsettled. These approaches, while important, frame populations as victims whose existence is dominated by and divided from centers of power. We lack a structural analysis of how these harms fit into a larger social economic pattern. I ask us to consider instead whether all of these harms add up to computing technologies today being one of the largest aspects of a colonial relationship today. Using historical evidence, the talk will consider what makes something ‘colonial’ to begin with, and then weigh corporate computing’s relationship with the world to gauge whether...
EPIC2019 Keynote Address, Providence, Rhode Island
SIMON ROBERTS, Co-founder, Stripe Partners
It was several centuries ago that the body was spirited out of conversations about intelligence. The mind-body dualism continues to exert strong influence on the world today—in fields as diverse as education, marketing, politics and technology. The Enlightenment, the industrial revolution and now AI and automation have all, in their own ways, sanctified the mind and downgraded the body.
Yet a host of disciplines from beyond anthropology and philosophy, such as neuroscience and cognitive science, are now concurring with the idea that the body is more than just the locus of our experience of the world. As the idea of embodied cognition holds, the body is the source of, and a condition for, our intelligence. Indeed, the recent rapid advances in AI and robotics have been made in large part due to this turn towards the idea of the embodied mind.
The body is at the heart of human capabilities like pattern recognition, adaptability,...
GSuite is changing the nature of Knowledge Work across 5 million businesses through AI-powered assistance. To ensure that this evolution reflects the aspirations and priorities of workers, Google and Stripe Partners conducted a multi-national ethnography of Knowledge Workers covering a range of industries. We identified that workers distinguish between ‘Core’ and ‘Peripheral’ work: the work they are paid to do and identify with, and the work that does not contribute to their success or happiness. Workers want assistance to enhance Core work and remove Peripheral work, nuanced across a spectrum of support. This framework and taxonomy has been adopted by teams at Google to inform strategic decisions on how AI is integrated by GSuite. New features are being implemented within Gmail, Slides, Docs and Sheets that bring these principles to life in the user experience....
This case study seeks to increase understanding of how agency is fostered in human-AI interaction by providing insight from Uber’s development of a conversational voice-user-interface (VUI) for its driver application. Additionally, it provides user researchers with insight on how to identify agency’s importance early in the product development process and communicate it effectively to product stakeholders. First, the case reviews the literature to provide a firm theoretical basis of agency. It then describes the implementation of a novel in-car Wizard-Of-Oz study and its usefulness in identifying agency as a critical mediator of driver interaction with the VUI before software-development. Afterward, three factors which impacted driver agency and product usage are discussed – conversational agency, use of the VUI in social contexts and perception of the VUI persona. Finally, the case describes strategies used to convince the engineering and product teams to prioritize features to increase agency....
Design Council & Royal College of Art
This paper describes an experiment, designed and developed with the ultimate aim of fostering low-pollution and low-carbon social innovation. It offers an evidence-based practical alternative to conventional, technological approaches and narratives of smart cities aimed at sensing air pollution and mitigating the effects of climate change.
In this experiment a new voice user interface is designed, developed and tested with input from participants – to explore the potential of a new, more socially minded adaptation to current AI assistant devices in the home and enhance the field of smart technology design. The experiment is developed with a group of participants to demonstrate how design research can raise novel questions and inform disciplines with an interest in behaviour change, environmental pollution and smart homes. This work demonstrates the potential for technologies to increase the degree of participation in reducing pollution in cities and facilitate the articulation...
Amidst the advances of AI and automation, this paper provides a framework for ethnographic methods and insights to enhance human agency at work. Through analyzing data collected from ethnographic immersions in three different consulting firms (a professional services firm, a management consultancy, and a boutique insights agency), human-agent decisions are isolated in case studies and the pathways of unlocking the potential of automation to enhance the agency of individuals rather than constraining it are highlighted. Through drawing a distinction between thinking agency and executional agency present in the work of a consultant, this paper argues that automations that preserve thinking agency while maximizing productivity and accuracy are the solutions that should be adopted. Through vetting workflows sourced from ethnographic immersions with the established criteria, a framework for consultancies – and more broadly businesses – to better...
Automation and Artificial Intelligence are defying the status quo making us rethink our jobs, our relations and, philosophically, our lives purpose. This emerging trend will affect every aspect of our lives: economically, cultural and socially speaking. If you think that Ethnographic Research is a safe harbor from all these changes, because it is so human and qualitative, you may be wrong.
In this Pecha-Kucha, I want to share a story that I, as a researcher, in face of users’ pain points bigger than which button to click on an App, thought about products and services to help people using design thinking. During this side-quest, I’ve faced a lot of challenges and found the answer in developing a chatbot, characterized as a Virtual God, to help people and give advice for better lives.
People would tell their problems to a chatbot? People would rely on the chatbot, powered by artificial intelligence, advice, and readings? People would truly believe in the chatbot to make their wishes come...