Questioning AI

Questioning AI

Ikea’s Space10 innovation lab is launching an international survey to discover what people really think about artificial intelligence. The retail giant explains that the Do You Speak Human? initiative is aimed at encouraging consumers to share with everyone else just how they would like their future AI to be.

“The project is what we label as 'playful research' and the idea is to listen to people, open up the design process and take people’s wishes, concerns and aspirations into account before even deciding how this topic should be explored further,” says Ikea.

The company believes AI raises questions about the relationship we’d like to establish with our technology and it wants to ask the world what it makes of them. “Do you, for instance, prefer talking to a machine?” says Ikea. “Or do you rather want it to be more human-like? Would you prefer your AI to be male or female? Would it make a difference? Should your AI reflect your values and worldview? And how much privacy are you willing to give up in return for having AI ease the process of living?”

There’s another obvious question. “What does a Swedish furniture retailer know about AI and conversational technology?” says Göran Nilsson, manager IKEA concept innovation. “Not much, but we know AI is coming and we know there are tremendous opportunities in this area to create a better service for people around the world.”

“We acknowledge the serious concerns people have about biased algorithms, the displacement of workers in an automating economy, the emergence of a widespread surveillance culture and even AI as an threat to humankind,” says Bas van de Poel from Space10. “At the same time, we know AI offers tremendous benefits to the lives of the many people and that its exponential growth is inevitable. So, how do we make sure we make it a good thing? We believe in opening up the debate before jumping into development.”

By the way, Space 10 is a future-living lab situated in central Copenhagen. Its mission is to ‘explore possible future scenarios, respond to global challenges and design for people’s dreams and aspirations’ via a collaborative network of specialists, designers and ‘forward-thinking’ partners.

Only a couple of months ago, Space10 released open source plans for The Growroom, a spherical neighbourhood garden, to reduce food miles and pressure on the environment,

Image: Space10

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