Introducing the Human-Centered AI Canvas

The Context of AI

The potential of artificial intelligence for growing businesses is irrevocable. With cloud, cyber-security, and big data, AI is considered as a top priority for technology investments in 2019. Converging more and more with other technologies in place, AI is driving the next generation of businesses by being at the forefront of almost every digital transformation. With 9 out of 10 executives from around the world describing AI as an important tool in solving their organizations’ strategic challenges, the rush toward the golden promise of exponential growth is real.

Why this canvas?

Identifying how to use AI in order to provoke change in your organization or consumer experience is a complex challenge if you are starting in this field with no tools or established roadmap. The opportunities of applicability are wide and prioritizing where to take action first can feel overwhelming without a clear starting point.

“To design is much more than simply to assemble, to order, or even to edit; it is to add value and meaning, to illuminate, to simplify, to clarify, to modify, to dignify, to dramatize, to persuade, and perhaps even to amuse.”

— Paul Rand

How to use it

This canvas is composed of 10 building blocks. Start by defining who will be the audience you are trying to solve a problem for (“Designed for”). It might be your customer or a specific department within your organization. Once you have picked the people whose perspective you will be doing this exercise for, you will be able to work your way through the canvas from the top-right to the left, ending with the three boxes at the bottom.

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  • Which benefits the use of AI might bring to your organization?
  • How might the use of AI help you in achieving your goal or completing your task?
  • What AI is freeing up in your human agents’ capabilities?
  • Which repetitive tasks that your human agents are performing can be eliminated?
  • How might you make the best use of machine precision and accuracy?
  • Which limitations of human abilities could be taken
    over by machines in your process?
  • How might you make best use of human agents’ judgment, flexibility and creativity?
  • Which activities where AI can’t be used should be overtaken by your human agents?

“Your job in a world of intelligent machines is to keep making sure they do what you want, both at the input (setting the goals) and at the output (checking that you got what you asked for).”

― Pedro Domingos

6. Collaboration

  • How might you use the input from your human agents to improve the effectiveness of your machine?
  • What is the relationship between your human agents and your machine?
  • How might AI enhance your human agents by adding to their capabilities
    and improving their decision-making process?
  • What feedback loop will you build between the machine and
    your human agents to augment their intelligence and abilities?
  • Which major or complex decisions can’t be taken over by machines in your process?
  • How might you apply critical thought to your machine performance and overcome its potential biases?
  • How might you address the societal issues that the way you are using AI bring about?
  • Which morals, ethical or philosophical norms should be taken into consideration?
  • How will you re-train your workforce to ensure a smooth transition of your company to the age of artificial intelligence?
  • How will you communicate the difference between your human and machine-led experiences to your customers?

Practical application

Here is a concrete example with a start-up I have been involved with, Mr Young. The company’s product is a conversational agent, powered by AI, to help its users cope with anxiety. Its objective is threefold: demystifying anxiety and mental health, providing a medium to evaluate and track anxiety, and helping get access to quick and personalized resources to get in control. Through conversational platforms, Mr Young provides screening tests, suggests videos and articles to CBT-based exercises, or connects directly with a mental health professional.

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Transforming organizations by using new technologies is a challenging task, especially when clear blueprints do not yet exist. This canvas won’t provide you with all the answers, but I hope it can play the role of a starting point in your journey. As humans, it’s our duty to design systems that celebrate and elevate our human qualities.

“We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.”
―Charlie Chaplin

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