"AI is a magnifier of human intent," Mark Rolston, argodesign
The rapid advancement of AI has awakened an entirely new stage of the human-computer relationship: making our lives seamless and persistently advantaged, and yet dependent on computing. These changes promise to change us as much as our environment. Mark Rolston, Founder and Chief Creative Officer, argodesign will be addressing this topic at our upcoming annual AI user conference - Cognite2018. Ahead of the conference, he shared with us his thoughts on how AI will change the human experience.
According to you, what’s the biggest impact AI will have on individuals and societies in the times to come?
First of all, AI is having a top-line effect that has been discussed quite a bit so I’ll not repeat any of those ideas. What interests me is really what you might call a second-order effect, where AI makes the machines we regularly interact with much smarter — everything from our coffee machine up to the cars, homes, and offices we spend so much of our lives in. It won’t just increase the convenience and usefulness of those things. That’s the obvious conclusion. More profoundly, it will change the way we think about them — that is, they will increasingly take on more human characteristics.
We already talk to the Amazon Echo device. My kids call it “her”. How long until much of our interaction with the things around us makes a similar shift. We are surrounded by inanimate tools that we depend on. How do we change when those things are no longer passive tools, but instead motivated ‘creatures’ that act to support us, and even at times take the initiative to get things done on their own. In fact, the biggest change is likely to be in us.
In this world of conversational AI, what are some of the do’s and don’ts from a brand perspective?
Alan Turing is quoted saying, “Intelligence is as intelligence does”. It’s incredibly appropriate for this question. It comes down to expectations. A brand must be careful to depict their service in terms no smarter than it can actually perform. There is a huge emotional letdown to a device that turns out dumber than it promises.
Conversely, as humans we’re happy to attribute great emotional value to things that perform basic feats of intelligence. Think of your dog. There may not be a lot of higher-order intelligence in that animal, but humans have evolved to understand what dogs are capable of and can easily enjoy this envelope of behavior. It also has a lot to do with emotional intelligence. We don’t just react to pure informational processing. Delivery is everything.
In your area of work, what are you doing to promote cooperation between man and machine?
Well, just about everything we do is founded on that idea. Our firm creates interfaces of all sorts that make it easier for people to use machines, and even conversely, for machines to introduce new kinds of value to people.
From an AI standpoint, what keeps you up at night?
AI has the potential to mitigate as well as magnify existing social, security, and economic problems. It can do many wonderful things, but they might not be all good, unless we build responsible AI systems. It is not the fault of the technology—at the end of the day, AI is a magnifier of human intent, good or bad.
What can we expect from your talk at Cognite 2018?
I plan to talk a bit about these second order benefits of AI—how they are changing our interface with computing and daily life.
At Cognite2018, we'll be exploring a lot of these topics in detail. Thought leaders and AI practitioners across prominent Financial Services, Healthcare, and Digital Commerce enterprises including Anthem, Cognizant, Dell, GE, Microsoft, and NBCUniversal will talk about AI – trends, future, challenges and opportunities at the event. Click here to register for the event livestream that will start at 9:30 am CT on Oct 23.