Making Friends with AI
AI Hype: Who Is It For?
Last month, several high-profile generative artificial intelligence launches, most notably GPT-4 and Bard, set social media ablaze with excitement. Each day, more new AI products seem to be popping up like mushrooms. If you’ve been gorging yourself on tech headlines, it’s easy to form an impression like “AI has finally arrived.” You’d be forgiven for thinking that in a matter of mere weeks, humanity has made the leap from science fiction to science fact… yet AI has been with us for years, lurking stealthily in all your favorite online experiences.
But something is undeniably different this time. It’s hard to shake the feeling that there’s a significant technology revolution underway, so let’s go back in time to take a closer look at what sets today’s breakthroughs apart from the AI of previous decades.
One decade ago: 2013–2023
You’ve been interacting with AI for a long time, but if you don’t know where to look, you’re unlikely to have noticed all the AI components you enjoy. If you’ve ever used a Google product, for example, you’ve likely already interacted with AI.
The AI of the past decade was an unobtrusive boost to your experience… a far cry from today’s in-your-face AI. That’s because the UX philosophy associated with traditional enterprise-grade AI emphasized seamlessness — don’t let users see the components! Even if there’s AI in there, the user doesn’t need to know about it. What’s happening today is a radical pivot in product philosophy; suddenly, the user is encouraged to interact directly with an AI component that’s designed for usefulness rather than seamless correctness. (My full article on the AI’s tectonic shift in UX and user expectations is here.) But traditionally, AI subtly played its part behind the scenes.
Last decade’s user experience (UX) design philosophy for AI prioritized seamless, reliable solutions with minimal user…