As one of today’s most influential technology events, Web Summit brings together leaders and startups from around the globe. At this year’s conference in Lisbon, we were inspired by a few major trends in artificial intelligence (AI) that had us thinking about our role as designers in relation to the technology. We looked more closely at AI as it shifts from being a trendy add-on to becoming a tool that can, for example, support organizations working in developing countries or help the agriculture industry get the most out of their resources and protect the environment.
Overall, we noticed that AI is being applied to improve everyday lives – through home safety systems, for instance. On the other hand, we observed big players making good use of AI for society in general. One example is AI being used in education contexts to help students succeed or to identify students at risk so early interventions can be implemented.
From reactivity to proactivity, from smart home to safe home
As the concept of the smart home slowly transforms into the safe home, we can see insurance companies entering the field. The smart home has opened the door for insurance sector stakeholders to transform their business value proposition. Data from smart home devices will enable improved insurance product offerings and enhanced outcomes for smart homeowners. Data can also help mitigate risk in real time, prevent excess claims and incentivize “safe” behaviors.
Transparent use of data can build trust and deepen the relationship between smart homeowners and insurance companies. It can improve efficiency, with problems identified farther in advance and remedial actions taken far earlier — ultimately creating a shift from reactive response to proactive solution by connecting smart home internet of things (IoT) with insurance players.
AI for good
Smart farming is a prime example of AI being applied to protecting the environment. Thanks to machine learning, awareness of farm conditions can improve. Farmers can plan farming activities at the right times, reduce energy consumption and water usage, and protect themselves from overwork or job redundancy. Applying advanced analytics and predictive solutions will not only help farmers increase productivity, but also improve crop quality and animal wellbeing by treating farms in a healthy, sustainable manner.
In agriculture technology, the use of sensors and connected farming devices is a good IoT practice: The combination of data collection and AI helps farmers make informed decisions related to weather, soil and plant conditions.
We also see AI being utilized in humanitarian and environmental contexts, such as earthquake forecasting, disaster rescue and recovery, predicting and preventing famine, and tackling climate change.
In other industries, like finance, consumer goods or automotive, for instance, we see a shift from simply using AI to collect data to allowing it to make decisions for us. In this type of application, however, it is crucial to create trustworthy algorithms that allow AI to make the right decisions. Our role as designers is to focus on people, guiding Ai development to solve the right problems for the right causes. By understanding people’s behavior, only then can we develop AI to ease decision-making based on true insights.
As representatives of McKinsey Design, we entered Web Summit discussions around user-centricity, design and the recent Business Value of Design report. Daniel Sjöblom was interviewed live on Facebook about the report’s impact and importance; with more than 190,000 views, response to the discussion has been strong.
If AI is currently perceived as an application for certain groups only, it is poised to become a tool that will improve the future lives of people everywhere. At Veryday, we feel that we’re an integral part of this vast change, with Web Summit once again confirming the weight of our role as designers in a future where design catalyzes even more human-centric solutions.
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