Making AI more human

Despite I had already watched Her a couple of times, the article published in Wired made me notice unnoticed aspects. On the social side, I think most of the audience would agree that technology does not play the central role in the movie; instead, human relationships and human-computer relationships do. Having said that, my piece of text will try to analyze three main lessons that an interaction designer (as I ambitiously like to call myself) can bring away from the movie and the article. I will use the “we” form.

.1 Minimize the interface

We design beautiful and elaborate interfaces, but that does not directly imply designing beautiful and aesthetically pleasing interactions. Sometimes interfaces are stuck on products and teach you unnatural and unintuitive actions, such as it happened when we first started to use the touch screen. Sweeping on a flat surface in order to move to another page does not belong to our physical-cognitive realm. In that sense, “Her” explained to us that an interaction with a machine can happen with what turns out to be a non-interface: the use of screens and tangible interfaces is minimized, and the use of human most accessible skills (earing, speaking, watching) are exploited to the maximum to obtain a smooth human-computer interaction which seems more natural than ever. Such a non-interface interaction can still be meaningful!

.2 Elegance

We are becoming more and more multitasking in our everyday life, but still that is regarded as rude in many situations. We should design for interfaces which allow more discrete and elegant interaction within public contexts. People do not look at each other when they are on the metro, the look at screens!

.3 System failure

“Her” also shows us how human it is for the OS to fail. We design machines which ideally perform efficiently and effectively, but when we want to make them more “human”, we might take into account that humans do not perform neither efficiently nor effectively. When towards the end of the movie Samantha does not immediately reply on Theodore’s call, she shows her human side, saying “Sorry I was busy with doing something else”. How human would your laptop be if after a full day of work would not turn on, showing on the screen “Dude, its late, I am tired, lets go to bed”? Would you as user accept that?


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