When used with awareness and attention, our tools foster embodied cognition—they become extensions of our bodies or our minds. But if we stop paying attention, those tools can come to dominate our lives and we become “functional cyborgs,” or fyborgs, to use Alexander Chislenko’s evocative blend. We necessarily extend ourselves technologically with eyeglasses or canes or hearing aids, but we frequently go far beyond that to use our latest tools—particularly smartphones and similar devices—to mediate all or most of our experiences.
“[…] the future of computing seems to be about a set of platform and device-independent services. Specifically, voice-based interactions, driven by large installations of cloud-based servers running deep learning-based algorithms are what’s hot these days. This kind of computing model doesn’t necessarily need the kind of local horsepower that traditional computing devices have had. Indeed, these types of services can be accessed by the simplest of devices, with little more than an audio input, an audio output, and a wireless connection.”
What’s needed for AI’s wide adoption is an understanding of how to build interfaces that put the power of these systems in the hands of their human users. What’s needed is a new hybrid design discipline, one whose practitioners understand AI systems well enough to know what affordances they offer for interaction and understand humans well enough to know how they might use, misuse, and abuse these affordances.