Lift12, Near Futures: Ben Bashford [en]

[fr] Je suis à la conférence Lift12 à Genève ces jours. Voici mes notes de sessions.

Live-blogging from Lift12 conference in Geneva. These are my notes and interpretations of Ben Bashford’s session — best effort, but might be imprecise or even wrong!

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Designing machines with empathy. Cable TV box: ask it to do something, doesn’t do it. Ask again, still doesn’t do it. Asks it to do something else, then tries to do all three things at the same time.

Interactions with computers and new media are fundamentally social. Let’s assume for this talk that computers = people. And “has a processor” = computer.

What do you get when you cross an airplane with a computer? A computer! Once you put a processor in something it stops being what it was before and starts being a computer. (Book: The Inmates are Running the Asylum.)

Nest: sets your central heating according to data found online.

Izon camera sits quietly in your house and captures video when it’s disturbed and posts it online.

Wristband that helps you turn your exercise routine into a game. Scales that track your weight by connecting with your iPhone. (Withings.)

Retailers don’t know what to do with these things. Classified in “miscellaneous”.

Computers = people = everywhere. Getting cheaper, they’re soon going to be talking back to us. Conversational UI. Vision is getting cheaper (XBOX 360). They’ll know when we’re looking at them and adjust their behaviour accordingly 😉

Ben doesn’t think “robot” fits for these things, and “bot” kind of stops at software.

It’s not about what they’re doing but how they do it.

Mint floor cleaner. Amazon review: “personality of the bot is OK. not quite as chipper as the other cleaning jobs but gets the job done”. Interpreting behaviour as personality. Interesting!

So… what are you designing? It’s going to be read as personality, shouldn’t be left to engineering.

Who is this? what does it want? How does it feel about it?

Problem: anthropomorphism => uncanny valley.

Canny Basecamp. Minimal viable person. Messenger app icons. Tower Bridge calmly referring to itself in the first person.

Pixar “lamps” — the moment they start moving they have personalities and emotions.

Macbook pulsating light: breathing speed for normal sleeping human.

Computer can’t do real random().


Technology should create calm. What about a computer that keeps asking for your attention? Talk to me, look at me, help me. Cute.

Plants = ambient displays. Robotany?

The more plants you get together, the calmer it gets.

Skeumorphism. Make new stuff in the form of the old to minimise future shock. Book metaphor for iPad books. Has pages that turn.

Some of these things could be interacting with each other as much as they’re interacting with us. Some would need to be used by both humans and machines. Agent centered design. Open communication: telepathy between machines. How will we know what’s going on? Beautiful seams.

Doesn’t think we should be making machines that empathize with us. The empathy should be ours.

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