By Wilbert Baan

Who’s responsible for an evil machine?

Joi Ito posted an interesting remark to the VW story on Facebook. With increased usage of machine learning algorithms. Computer try to optimise results. Results that can be great for operating the machine, although it can have side effects.

There is a thread over email with various people right now about how just auditing the code will not be enough since with machine learning, you don’t actually “program” the rules, but the machine learns them. If a machine optimizes in a way that breaks a rule, is it the programmers fault, and how do you detect it. I think that how and with what data we train AIs is going to be an exceedingly important way to manage things as relatively straight forward as breaking laws all the way to ethics.

The code used during the VW emission check probably didn’t have anything to do with machine learning. It’s a very simple check.

The software was relatively straight-forward: during an emissions test, the wheels of a car spin, but the steering wheel doesn’t. No turning or jostling of the steering column, indicates the car isn’t out on a normal drive and that an emissions test is underway. That activated a defeat device that limited the harmful gas emitted by the car, allowing it to pass the test.

With machines getting smarter running their own optimisation tricks. Who’s to blame when the machine makes a choice that’s probably completely rational for the machine, although against societies values.

Make in this story at Fusion as well.

Microinteractions for iOT with Dan Saffer

This is one of the best presentations about design I have seen in a while. Dan Saffer (ex-Jawbone) talks about microinteractions for connected devices at Solid.

With more connected devices around us, complexity increases making an important case for simple interactions. Making something really simple work in an environment with connected devices is a challenge in itself.

Triggers, Rules, Feedback, Loops and Modes

Microinteractions Trigger Rules Feedback Loops and Modes
Microinteractions Trigger Rules Feedback Loops and Modes

Dan refers to different categories of actions. This model is similar to models promoted in Behavior Design where a trigger combined with motivation leads to an action. Some actions are standalone, others are about changing behavior in the long term and require loops and modes.

I like how Dan talks about these from his extended product experience and knowledge. Specifying manual triggers (visible/invisible) and system triggers.

Watch his talk (video)

Watch the video

Responsive Design mode in Safari

I just discovered the responsive design mode in Safari. This is nice. I think it’s a great tool, even when it’s limited to showing Apple devices.

The past weeks I have talked to multiple companies about how they approach responsive design. Mobile is over 50% for most companies, even approaching 70% numbers. Most websites start from a web view and adapt for mobile. Responsive Design is often, web design optimised for mobile.

This is wrong and we need better design tools to fix this. The Safari responsive design mode is a good start. While we design and build most websites behind a computer, most viewers aren’t viewing this from a computer.

Hiding a div is not how you scale down. We need to think the other way around. How to scale up and thinking about browser memory and mobile bandwith. Mobile first, really means mobile first. Start with the best mobile website you can think of and scale up.

The ad-blocker discussion on mobile browsers linked to this design approach. Loading too many ads and external scripts that make a scaled down page just too heavy to handle for most mobile browsers. Resulting in a bad experience, ads that are too big, content that is out of the first view, sites that crash or never load.

Safari Responsive Design Mode
Safari Responsive Design Mode

Behavior Design in Marketing

On October 6th we’re organising the 11th Behavior Design meetup together with The meetup is part of the Amsterdam eWeek. A week filled with events.

Behavior Design meetup at the Amsterdam eWeek 2015
Behavior Design Amsterdam at Amsterdam eWeek 2015

We have some great speakers. Most of I know personally and really admire. A great line-up.

  • Ingmar de Lange, pushing brands for years by focussing marketing on products and actions instead of words.
  • Ellen van Den Berg head UX of DDB & Tribal Worldwide, she will co-present with Apo J. Bordin.
  • Tom De Bruyne, founder of SUE Amsterdam. Tom is a long time advocate for Behavorial Design in marketing.

There are still a few seats left.

See you October 6th!

Behavior Design & Quantified Self meetup

Last week we organized the 10th edition of Behavior Design Amsterdam. For this event we joined forces with Quantified Self AmsterdamFreedomLab Campus hosted the meetup.

Behavior Design Amsterdam meetup and Quantified Self Amsterdam meetup
Behavior Design Amsterdam meetup and Quantified Self Amsterdam meetup
Behavior Design Amsterdam meetup and Quantified Self Amsterdam meetup
Behavior Design Amsterdam meetup and Quantified Self Amsterdam meetup

Kenkodo Metabolism based Body Tracker
One of the presentations was by Josephine Worseck about the Kenkodo Metabolism tracker.

The Kenkodo tracker is a personal metabolism tracker. Based on regular blood analysis and activity it aims to give you personal insights in what does and what doesn’t work for you.

This is also the most fundamental issue surrounding Quantified Self. Through all these trackers we are able to measure and gather an enormous amount of data. It’s really hard to turn this data into information.

I’ve been a Fitbit user for years. The device is great in telling me how many steps I’ve taken. It doesn’t tell me when to relax. At the end of a day I can be tired without having walked much. Other days I have been way over the 10.000 steps and still go for an evening run.

It’s just not as simple a taking one stream of data and acting upon it. Our internal sensors are still quite hard to beat. And for now this seems the biggest challenge surrounding the self tracking movement.

How to get from data collecting to valuable personal coaching.

Kenkodo Metabolism based Body Tracker
Kenkodo Metabolism based Body Tracker
Kenkodo Metabolism based Body Tracker
Kenkodo Metabolism based Body Tracker
Kenkodo Metabolism based Body Tracker
Kenkodo Metabolism based Body Tracker

“Bitcoin desperately needs design”

The IDEO futures podcast interviews Andreas Antonopoulos, author of Mastering Bitcoin.

In the interview he is talking about design methapors and the problems surrounding Bitcoin and blockchain mass-adoption right now.

It’s interesting too see that a lot of the things happening in this space are inevitable. At the same time there is still so much too gain. From a design perspective there is huge potential in this domain.

Certainly worth your time to listen if you’re into bitcoins and design.

Design in Tech report 2015 by John Maeda

Slide from Design In Tech Report 2015

As Design Partner at Venture Capital firm KPCB John Maeda released the Design in Tech Report 2015 earlier in March this year. It gives a great overview of what’s happening in the design field at this moment. Where design is getting more relevant to companies with the month.

We get more and faster technology, with more and different contact moments. This makes it more difficult to make easy to use products and services. Resulting in giving companies that are design driven an advantage.

I answered some questions in a survey in the approach to this report, you can find my name – really small – somewhere in slide 30 where designers where asked if coding skills matter for a designer. As an answer. I think they do. Coding skills do make you a better designer, it makes you understand how thinks work. You don’t have to be a top coder. It’s like being an architect understanding the impact of construction and materials make you a better designer.

Design in Tech Report
Design in Tech Report