Making Friends with AI
How AI is Evolving
In the previous installment, I explained that because AI product designers of the past decade intentionally smoothed out the user experience (UX) to ensure that users wouldn’t notice when they interacted with AI components, it doesn’t make sense that users were the intended audience for all the buzz about AI back then (and there was a lot of buzz). All that AI talk wasn’t aimed at users or the general public.
It was aimed at the builders of AI systems.
That’s where you’d have found the trendiest AI frenzies of the past decade: with applied AI professionals and those who funded them.
Two decades ago: 2003–2013
Reading this, you’re in danger of thinking that AI buzz has its origins in the previous decade, so let’s wind the clock back another ten years. There was buzz in those days too. Except the audience was different. What kind of people would you have found nearest to the new millennium epicenter of AI excitement?
Two decades ago, most of the hollering in the AI space involved aspirational methodology — theory that hadn’t been put into practice yet — because two components were still missing: huge datasets and the computer hardware to process them. The rise of cloud computing in the last decade was the spark that blossomed into a whole industry of builders automating all kinds of marvelous things (for users to enjoy without noticing).
This decade: 2023–2033
My prediction for this decade is that AI research and applied AI will be gathering even more momentum, but their voices might be drowned out by a new kid on the block: the AI-aware AI product user, or “AI user” for short.
Let me try for a balanced take on the recent AI hype-mongering. I agree that we’re experiencing a technology revolution, but in my view it’s more of a UX revolution than an AI revolution per se. The AI revolution has been rolling along for years, but the key difference today is all about user experience and product philosophy. (Learn more about this here.)
The key difference today is all about…