Artificial intelligence has been THE buzzword in every tech-driven industry over the past few years as speculation around its impact on human society has been speculated upon by scientists, entrepreneurs, philosophers, politicians and the media outlets. The diversity in opinion highlights the fact that nobody really knows how AI will change our relationship with technology and each other.
Ray Kurzweil, the author, computer scientist, inventor, and futurist said;
AI will reach human levels by around 2029. Follow that out further to, say, 2045, we will have multiplied the human biological machine intelligence of our civilisation a billion-fold.
However, that may not be a good thing as Stephen Hawking famously said;
The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.
But what about the small incremental impact of AI, specifically on the UX of apps, websites, and devices? It’s doubtful that an AI would be able to cause a global catastrophe if its primary function was to improve the conversion rate of an Ecom website…hopefully.
Examples of successful AI in UX
To demonstrate how AI can be incorporated into your UX strategy and the advantages of doing so, we’ve listed a few examples and highlighted the benefits of each for you to take inspiration from.
We’ll also look further into the future to try and predict what UX will look like in the age of AI.
Car Maintenance Made Easy
WhoCanFixMyCar.com is a platform which allows drivers to get a range of quotes from the best garages in their area online. The aggregator takes information from a driver including the type of repair required, the car model and the motorist’s location. The system will then send the request to garages in the driver’s local area, all of whom are free to create a bespoke quote including price and a message to the driver.
However, how many mechanics have time to send out multiple bespoke quotes all day if they are busy fixing cars? That is where machine learning comes in.
The tech team at WhoCanFixMyCar have created a system which leans from each and every garage, taking into account the price quoted for repair and the language they use in their messages to drivers. Therefore, if the mechanic wanted, they could allow the AI system to send drivers quotes on their behalf, therefore increasing response time and winning more work for the garage.
Co-Founder, Ian Griffiths said;
A lot of garages aren’t tech savvy and they don’t always have the time to send drivers estimates, so we built some tech which communicates with drivers on their behalf. The AI is basically winning them work online and earning money for them.
This is a much better representation of where AI is useful and will likely go in the future. The program is fed data and uses it to create a communication, improving the user experience on the platform. AI doesn’t have to be complex, it can be as simple as giving a driver a price for a brake repair.
No, we’re not talking about C3-PO, we’re talking about vocally controlled devices such as Alexa and software such as Siri, the most common form of AI to have gone mainstream seamlessly. A huge number of brands and organisations have integrated with voice search and included in order to make a purchase or experience easier and more enjoyable.
According to this piece of research, 30% of all web browsing sessions will be done without a screen, something which will only be possible with the help of AI. This article explains how Google’s algorithm for voice search works, so if you haven’t already thought about optimising your website for voice search, this is a good place to start.
This form of AI will play a huge part in how users will interact with your app or platform so don’t discount the technology as a gimmick, what if everybody suddenly put their phones down and could conduct all of their purchases and absorb information without actually looking at a website?
Pop up chatbots have become popular with businesses looking to help their users while they’re online as a way of delivering information and nudges at the right moment.
Though this form of AI doesn’t quite feel as intelligent as the likes of Siri and Alexa, it is just as effective for increasing conversion rates and satisfaction levels for brands. The Disney film ‘Zootopia’ has its own Facebook chatbot which allows users to interact with the characters from the film itself, a feature which generates engagement interest and a personal attachment to the protagonists.
Is this the type of AI that Stephen Hawking warned us about? No, but it’s AI nonetheless and it is a form which could help improve the UX of your own website significantly.
The impact on the UX industry and the digital world
As far as artificial intelligence goes, the only thing that all of the experts agree upon, is that it will have an enormous impact on human society regardless of whether that is good or bad.
However, looking at the evidence so far, it seems that AI is best utilised to complement the work that humans carry out, instead of replacing them completely. As far as UX is concerned, it is hard to imagine a future in which a piece of software could take a complicated brief and produce a website or app which has all of the functionality and appearance desired.
The design process is complex and a UX expert or designer draws upon their own personal history, influences, and interests to create something new, original and innately human. AI should be regarded as a tool to improve our own output and something which can take care of lengthy monotonous tasks to free up time for people to focus on more creative and interesting tasks.
This scene from the 2013 Spike Jones film, ‘Her’ showcases AI in the form of a seemingly conscious operating system organising emails and even deciding on a name for itself. The film shows Theodore, the protagonist, falling in love with Samantha, the operating system but it is the way in which she compliments his existing life which is interesting.
This is how AI is likely to influence the future of UX – It will complement and help improve what already exists as we have demonstrated, as opposed to completely redefining and replacing humans and their work.