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AI & Robots - On the Road

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

Ashumans we’re always dealing with issues which relate to the future, whether it’s catching a bus or plane, setting our alarm for a meeting or keeping an eye on the weather — we’re thinking about the future, or at least a ‘future’. The future is everyday stuff, we deal with this on a very day-to-day level, often looking at what we’ve already done and what happens as a consequence of our previous actions to inform ourselves about what we might do, or what might happen. It’s a bit of a probability game, but how do we deal with things that we have little experience of, things that we might be suspicious of, or that have a narrative that might not actually relate to the reality of the thing that we’re concerned with, such as robotics and AI? Some of these points may sound obvious, but by engaging in the ‘future’ we’re changing the future, bringing some things into being and perhaps stopping other things coming into being. For some reason I was reminded of this today when I read the quote below linked to from a tweet by @gubicgarden, and perhaps it’s ‘change’ that is the focus here as that suggests a transition to a future state, but let’s stick with the notion of the future…for now.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” — Buckminster Fuller

Picture above, A ‘future’ we didn’t expect…or predict! At the Mozilla Ethical Dilema Cafe 2022, Manchester. Photo by Paul Coulton. One of the difficulties of engaging with people about future technologies is not being able to let people feel what it might be like to experience these technologies in person. As a way to deal with this issue, the “Future Mundane” Caravan was developed to take AI (Artificial Intelligence) based experiences and other possible future experiences out to the public. The caravan is more than a space, it’s a platform with a set of tools that are being created to enable a whole range of interactions, technologies and experiences to be taken on the road.

Picture above, at the Mozilla Ethical Dilema Cafe 2022, Manchester. To read more about this it’s really worth looking at this recently published article at the Design Research Society Conference Experiencing Mundane AI Futures Abstract Whilst popular visions of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are often presented through the lens of sentient machines, our lived experience of AI is more mundane and exemplified by so-called ‘smart’ products and services. Whilst this mundane reality is often presented using design approaches that make their operation appear simple and innocuous, these smart systems, and the data they use and collect, can challenge and even disrupt ordinary expectations. Our ability to manage smart technologies effectively is key to the field of Human Data Interaction (HDI), which seeks to shape systems design and empower users by implementing core principles of legibility, agency and negotiability. However, how these principles manifest in practice is yet to be fully understood. We seek to understand key challenges confronting HDI by situating smart products and services in everyday life and creating a mundane experiential future that houses AI in a caravan for evaluation with the general public. Keywords artificial intelligence, experiential futures, design futures, experience design DOI

Citation Pilling, M., Coulton, P., Lodge, T., Crabtree, A., and Chamberlain, A. (2022) Experiencing mundane AI futures, in Lockton, D., Lenzi, S., Hekkert, P., Oak, A., Sádaba, J., Lloyd, P. (eds.), DRS2022: Bilbao, 25 June — 3 July, Bilbao, Spain. Creative Commons License Matthew Pilling, Lancaster University, United Kingdom Paul Coulton, Lancaster University, United Kingdom Thomas Lodge, Nottingham University, United Kingdom Andy Crabtree, Nottingham University, United Kingdom Alan Chamberlain, Nottingham University, United Kingdom Other links Ethical Dilema Cafe 2022 Taking Your Research on the Road

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