Search UX, Artificial intelligence and being human at UCD 2016

Being human was the big theme at this year’s UCD 2016. Artificial intelligence was an inevitable undercurrent of this, which related to the search experience research we ve been doing in a number of useful ways. In common with artificial intelligence, search user experience is about curating a massive amount of information in a human driven dialogue. The basis of this relationship is trust. In this sense search is a basic form of ai. 

David Wilans talked about the values we embed in the technology we design in the same way a parent teaches a child through feedback and stories. This reminded me of the feedback loops we might design into a search interface 

With Matt Lindop, we discussed the challenges of creating a system where choice and efficiency is balanced and driven by human conversation. We face similar challenges when deciding what level of detail – whether it’s product information, or filtering options – is enough to work out if you’re on the right track, and get an overview of the quality of your options.

Desiree Garcia talked about the need to build trust between intelligent systems and their audiences. If relevance is based on personalisation how do you ensure people have given informed consent? How do you make your algorithms transparent and potentially customisable, to tech savvy audiences? How do you avoid creating a homogeneous experience for unique extraordinary people that we all are ?

Alistaire Somerville did a workshop on humanising research which was also a particular highlight . There is an unaddressed hierarchy  between design professionals and audiences. Breaking this down will be critical to designing optimal search experiences. However, this requires relinquishing control and giving them tools to control a design space. 

I feel humbled by how much there is to learn and look forward, once again, to next year’s event.

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