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Showing posts from March, 2013

Book note: Can Robots Commit Crimes?

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I read today in the Chronicle of Higher Education about a forthcoming book "When Robots Kill: Artificial Intelligence Under Criminal Law" (forthcoming from Northeastern University Press), by Gabriel Hallevy. It is fascinating to see the growing debate about the 'nature' of robots and intelligent systems and to what extent they should be considered to have agency of some kind and therefore also responsibility for their actions. According the the Chronicle, Hallevy makes the case that we already hold other non-human entities responsible for their actions, for instance corporations even though they have no spirit, soul or physical body, so why not robots?

As someone who read all the works by Isaac Asimov (a long time ago) these questions are not new. All Asimov followers know his Three Laws of Robotics. Asimov envisioned a future society where robots had intelligence and agency in way that we are still far from. In his writings he explored what the relationship between …

The Evil of Design

Even though I am happy to see the wonderful push for design thinking and a designerly approach today in academia and in business, it is also a bit disturbing to see the lack of critical thinking about design. Design as an approach is today by many seen as the silver bullet to almost any kind of problem. A design approach is considered to be able to deal with any kind of situation. I do agree that design as an approach is powerful, maybe more so than many believe even among those who advocate it. I do agree that many issues today should be approached in a designerly way. But it is also crucial to remember that design as an approach is not inherently good.

Almost all things that scare us and make our lives difficult and dangerous are designed. Some of the most wonderful examples of great design are also considered to be manifestations of evil. Humans design wars, genoside, weapons of destruction, and maybe even more extraordinary but less obvious designs aimed at suppressing people (suc…

Design thinking revisited by Norman

Don Norman has in some earlier writings been quite critical to the notion of "design thinking", however now he argues that he has changed his mind. I agree with the new Norman. He makes the case that if we see design thinking more as a tool or method then he is ok with it. And he is also careful with stating that it is not the case that all designers are engaged with design thinking, or that all design schools do teach it. I could not agree more. Working with designers all over the world I know first hand that design thinking is not necessarily understood everywhere where the label design is used. Even worse is that a deeper understanding of design as a human universal approach (much broader and critical than design thinking) is almost completely lacking still. But hopefully this is changing in the years to come.

I have one problem with Norman's new position though. He writes "Two powerful tools of design thinking summarize the approach: the British Design Council&#…

Interface tile designs--evolution or fashion

I guess you have already realized that one of the most popular interface design styles today is tile design. The examples are many, Pinterest (maybe where it started), Windows 8, USA today, etc. Even "older" designs are changing their design to become more tile like. Ebay is trying to look like Pinterest.

The tile design has an immediate appeal. It is clear, structured, appears to be highly organized and of course, is in many cases visually appealing. We have over the years seen many "styles" come and go, usually they have been seen as evolutions of the interface--new paradigms. GUI is seen as superior to command based interaction for instance and not as a style or fashion. Touch and gesture is seen as developments away from traditional keyboard interactions--not as a fashion. But is tile interfaces the next step in the evolution of interfaces or is it only a style, a fashion? And if so, does it matter?

My own very personal and unscientific analysis of tile interfa…

Interfaces of not?

During the last few years we have seen a drastic change in what is usually seen as the interface of interactive artifacts and systems. There are many who examine this change, such as this article about "Why The Human Body Will Be The Next Computer Interface".

I am excited to see speculations about this since I am working with Lars-Erik Janlert on a new article about this topic. The article is to some extent based on our previous article "Complex Interaction" even though it hopefully breaks some new ground when it comes to the big questions of "what is an interface"  and the future oriented question of "what is the future of interfaces".

There are a number of interesting questions that we try to investigate int the article, for instance, what is the most useful definition of interfaces, does the Kinect have an interface, when interfaces are everywhere how can we think about them, etc. These questions are important since if answered they may help an…