Person-centric AI

During my time at the GEMH Lab I’ve become more and more interested in the relationship that people have with technology. Not only in terms of ‘how do we use it’ and ‘what can we do with it’, but also how technology has been inspired by us.

In particular artificial intelligence is meant to mimic us in some ways (and do better than us, in others). However, recently I’ve come to believe that we’re not inspiring artificial intelligence and digital social technology to a large enough extent, and I’ll explain what I mean in a second.

When you Google ‘person-centric’ (or ‘human-centric’/’people-centric’) AI, you get pages that refer to making AI understandable for humans. Although this is an important task (especially in the light of worries that we might be losing our grip on artificial intelligence and what it does), I was surprised to read that this is apparently what the Internet says that ‘person-centric AI’ is.

What about the psychology that goes into these tools, though? How do we strive to make sure that what we build is not just convenient and efficient, but also in line with our understanding of human psychology? Is the field of AI sufficiently sensitive to theories about human psychology? I’m getting the sense that it isn’t (but feel free to prove me wrong, see the end of my post ;).

Why does it matter? Because in order for human beings to benefit the most from technology, it needs to be sensitive to their needs. Things like preservation of the sense of agency, for instance, seem to be rarely taken into account, following an ‘aren’t you happy someone/something is doing it for you?’-approach. However, a loss of sense of agency can not only lead to reluctance to use a certain technological tool, it can also lead to decreased life satisfaction. In a world where we are increasingly surrounded by (AI) technologies and tools, such considerations are as vital as ever.

I’m thinking… that I’d really like to work towards building AI tools that make sense from a human psychological perspective. We need to consider the human mind behind every AI tool, and this is something that – at least, so it seems – is still underrepresented in the field of artificial intelligence. However, if you read this and are working on such an approach to AI, hit me up — I’d love to hear about your work!

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