AAAI 2018 – Presentation & Slides

Karey Helms presenting at UX of AI spring symposium

Last week I presented my paper Design Methods to Investigate User Experiences of Artificial Intelligence at the 2018 AAAI Spring Symposium on the User Experiences of Artificial Intelligence. The picture above was taken by a Google Clips camera, which was also one of the presented papers. Below are my slides, which contain supplementary images to my paper on the three design methods I have engaged with relative to the UX of AI. Another blog post will soon follow with reflections on other papers presented.

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CHI 2018 – Attending Workshop on HCI Outdoors

This year I’ll be going to CHI 2018 as a student volunteer and to attend the workshop HCI Outdoors: Understanding Human-Computer Interaction in the Outdoors. Very much looking forward to connecting with the HCI outdoors community for a new research project!

HCI and the outdoors

A Walk in the Woods: Gear and Infrastructure in the Outdoors (position paper PDF)

In this position paper, we describe an initial research activity, a short walk in the woods, to position our interest in HCI and the outdoors. We present three preliminary reflections from our hike on relationships with gear and infrastructure that enable meaningful outdoor experiences. These include parallels between packing gear and preparing devices, contrasting notions within bodily comfort and brand allegiance, and safety bubbles enabled by actual or expected infrastructures.

AAAI 2018 – Accepted Spring Symposia Papers

Two papers were accepted to the AAAI 2018 Spring Symposia: Design Methods to Investigate User Experiences of Artificial Intelligence for The UX of AI symposium and The Smart Data Layer for Artificial Intelligence for the Internet of Everything symposium. I’ll be presenting the former at Stanford at the end of March, bellow is the abstract.

Pages from Design Workbook

Design Methods to Investigate User Experiences of Artificial Intelligence

This paper engages with the challenges of designing ‘implicit interaction’, systems (or system features) in which actions are not actively guided or chosen by users but instead come from inference driven system activity. We discuss the difficulty of designing for such systems and outline three Research through Design approaches we have engaged with – first, creating a design workbook for implicit interaction, second, a workshop on designing with data that subverted the usual relationship with data, and lastly, an exploration of how a computer science notion, ‘leaky abstraction’, could be in turn misinterpreted to imagine new system uses and activities. Together these design activities outline some inventive new ways of designing User Experiences of Artificial Intelligence.

PhD’ing – Writers’ Retreat, Project Offsite, Outdoors Research, and Making Preciousness

Today I saw a meme on Instagram which said, “We are now entering the third month of January.” I couldn’t relate more! And looking back over the past few weeks, cannot believe all that has already happened in 2018.

KTH Writers' Retreat

Writer’s Retreat

Following a paper deadline in early January, my department at KTH (Media Technology and Interaction Design) kicked off 2018 with a writers’ retreat. What happens at a writers’ retreat? We book a venue in the Stockholm archipelago for three days and two nights, and write. And sauna and winter swim, but mainly write. The primary purpose of the retreat is to provide time and space away from everyday academic duties, from teaching to admin responsibilities, in order to focus on increasing the quality and quantity of our writing output. During the three days, we follow an agile framework in which junior/senior pairs write in ~45 minute sprints and then provide ~15 minutes of feedback. In addition to intense writing blocks, lunches, dinners, and evening activities provide ample opportunities to better know our colleagues professionally and personally. Though equally as exhausting as the writing, this social time I find incredibly valuable in creating a continued collaborative culture at work.

During this year’s writing camp I started a paper on a Pee-ometer, a recent project by Master’s students that I proposed and supervised in which they prototyped a wearable device that predicts when a user has to pee to investigate Machine Learning as a design material.

Project Offsite

In mid January, the Smart Implicit Interaction project had a two day project offsite. As the project is composed of differing philosophical and methodological backgrounds – i.e. Artificial Intelligence, Social Sciences, and Interaction Design – the first day consisted of a beginners overview into reinforcement and representational learning in neural networks to introduce technical terminology and objectives. During the second day, all of the sub-projects presented their current status and goals for the year. I specifically presented two ongoing design projects, data-driven design methods and the Pee-ometer. In the former, I discussed early design activities and resulting concepts from investigating the implications of screenshots as a data source. In the latter, I discussed three high-level interests guiding future project directions, including Machine Learning as a design material, interactional loops, and critique and ethics. Overall, it was inspiring to share and strategize better collaborations while revisiting overarching project objectives.

Project Offsite

Last week continued January’s streak of out-of-office research activities and into the forest. To kick off an new outdoors project, myself and three senior researchers went on a mid-week day hike 30 minutes outside of Stockholm. Not only was I surprised at a Professor’s ability to make a fire in the snow, but the excursion was both refreshing and constructive. More in the coming months!

Making Preciousness

And last but definitely not least, friend and fellow PhD student Vasiliki successfully defended her thesis Making Preciousness: Interaction Design Through Studio Crafts. Her opponent Ron Wakkary gave a much deserved brilliant presentation of her work before lengthy discussions with him and the committee. Admittedly, it is selfishly bittersweet to see her finishing as she has been a tremendous support and inspiration during the first year of my own PhD.

Books 2018

Books read in 2018:

15. Toilet: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing. Harvey Molotch and Laura Noren.

14. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Susan Cain. Perhaps like Cain’s portrayal of introverts, I found the book slow to warm up to, but ultimately appreciated the depth in which she treats the complexity of the introvert/extrovert dichotomy and cultural expectations (despite the introvert checklist that I felt oversimplified and thus undermined much of the book – I’m choosing to ignore it). In particular, I appreciated background of the States’ idolization of socializing combined with how partners, parents, teachers, and employers can better support more varied temperaments and personalities, especially across an overlay of cultural differences and preferences.

13. Human-Machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Actions. Lucy Suchman.

12. Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel. Rolf Potts. More inspirational than how to. Found the characterizations of tourists versus travel a bit pretentious, though appreciated the advocacy of more time in fewer places. A significant amount of the book is dedicated to quotes from other travels, which I’ll give Potts a pass for because he included one of my all time favorites: “I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.”― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

11. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. Christopher McDougall.

10. Rules of Civility. Amor Towles. Loved his second book so much, couldn’t resist listening to Towles’ first.

09. Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Urban Economy. Richard E. Ocejo.

08. The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less. Richard Koch. An amusing self-help book on time-management. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend, I very much appreciated the author’s humor and if anything, it was useful in prompting a bit of self-reflection.

07. Tuesdays with Morrie. Mitch Albom. A touching chronicle of the last weeks together between a dying teacher and a reacquainted student in search of meaning, wisdom, and a coach. Thoroughly enjoyed the ensuing reflections on relationships and “giving as the key to living.”

06. Machine Learners: Archaeology of a Data Practice. Adrian Mackenzie. Very difficult read! But would like to return to chapters 3) Vectorization and its Consequences and 7) Regularizing Materializing Objects.

05. Walden: Civil Disobedience. Henry David Thoreau. A compressed, meticulous account of Thoreau’s two years living in a cabin by Walden Pond in the mid 1800s, the book interweaves a manual for self-reliance with personal introspection on independence and living in natural surroundings. Apparently I’m one of the few Americans who wasn’t required to read Walden in high school (though we did read Ayn Rand), and instead I picked it up recently due to an outdoors research project and an ongoing personal search for a Swedish fritidshus to live in year round outside of Stockholm. Upon finishing, although I perhaps enjoyed some (beautifully written) criticism on Thoreau more than the book itself, I nevertheless find his irony and contradictions reflectively apt and a needed satirical perspective towards the privileged position where I live, crafting my own liminal space between the wild and society. We almost bought a house a few months back that didn’t have running water, an ideal retreat from which to embrace ‘living deliberately.’ There was though a gym nearby where we could go for a hot shower.

04. Weapons of Math Destruction. Cathy O’Neil. Through a variety of examples, including housing and financial sections, the book uses the term Weapons of Math Destruction to describe biased mathmatical models influencing our everyday lives. It also provides the formula of a good model: relevant data, transparency, and clear measures of success within an embedded feedback mechanism.

03. Technology as Experience. John McCarthy and Peter Wright. Draws upon pragmatism to emphasize the felt, emotional quality of experiences with technology. A remarkably easy and accessible read, yet might be without first reading Dewey’s arduous Art as Experience, which foregrounds the relationship between a live creature in the environment in which a continual doing and undergoing transform an everyday experience into an aesthetic experience.

02. Small Great Things. Jodi Picoult. A story about an African-American nurse, white supremacist, and white lawyer following the tragic death of a baby after a routine hospital procedure. While interesting from the start, it took quite sometime into the story to move beyond an outsiders positioning of racial stereotypes and propagate deeper reflections of racial privilege and institutional bias. At times it reads quite didactic, but is ultimately powerful (as an intended audience member) and powerfully uncomfortable.

01. Making Preciousness: Interaction Design Through Studio Crafts. Vasiliki Tsaknaki. A dissertation on the intersection between studio crafts and interaction design to explore the meaning of ‘preciousness,’ resulting in the extraction of three qualities: resourceful composition, material sensuality, and mattering artifacts. I’m particularly drawn to her paper on the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi in which she proposes three design principles inspired by impermanence, incompleteness, and imperfection.