Machines, People, and Understanding Machines, People, and Understanding

By Antti Hahto


Lack of communication causes conflicts in relationships and ruins your love life, they say.

For the love of science, user experience ponders these issues between the human and the machine. You may experience its painful relevance the next time you try to use your new bus ticket.

New user experience challenges arise as the world around us gets increasingly digital. How can we visualize massive amounts of numerical information that has no real-life counterpart? On the other leg, we’ll get superpowers by not being limited to what is visible.

Saving your documents into folders is no coincidence. Skeuomorphism – a design language borrowing real-world features to represent their digital counterparts even when the original functionality has long been gone – seems a little out of fashion at the moment. Your camera app may still sound like an analog camera shutter, and you certainly make phone calls by pressing an icon that looks like a banana. Intopalo’s user experience experts can go beyond bananas with these!

People have their own ways of thinking, perceiving, and remembering information. Conflicts often happen because a person can’t know what the other person is thinking. What people say differs from what they try to say, while also understanding the same words in different ways. To note, Intopalo indeed offers Modern Leadership consultation, and you even might get a glimpse on Cognitive Style Analysis CSA.

So the question is as follows: If we differ cognitively, why is the user interface same for everybody? Why is it that in order to operate your average microwave oven it’s you who has to learn the settings for heating up food, and not the other way around? That’s what machine learning is about: making information easier to understand and learning only the relevant. After the information is in digital format, it just needs some dimensionality reduction. No one wants to see multidimensional process control data displayed as digits on their screen. Instead, a simple gauge symbol can give us the relevant abstraction level – a smart window – to hundreds of subsystems. Converting from analog, complex world into digital and back to our analog eyes for a nice simplified banana representation.

Drop the irrelevant, and find resemblances and suitable abstractions models for communicating with your loved ones and business friends.