HMI stands for “Human Machine Interaction” or simply the cooperation between humans and machines. For the majority of AI experts and AI designers, the fact that humans should come first in this social-technological system is undisputed. Many principles, guidelines and catalogues of rules for the design of AI favour a human-centric approach. When it comes to using this technology in the workplace, this means that “colleague robot” should serve and support the human and not vice versa.
But how can this theoretical aspiration be implemented in practice? What does “human-centric” mean when it comes to developing AI applications?
From theory to practice
To move the debate surrounding the development and use of AI one step further, the AI Observatory initiated the expert dialogue “HMI – Working with AI” with the support of the Institute for Innovation and Technology (iit) in August 2020. In this series of six workshops on six different topics, experts from the fields of robotics and design, sociology and law, industry and trade unions as well as occupational health and safety and business practice will hold discussions together with topic sponsors.
To mark the start of the workshop series and the first year of the AI Observatory on 3 March 2021, the initiators at the AI-O and iit as well as the topic sponsors of the workshops have drafted a joint discussion paper. Entitled “Democratic Technology Design in the Digital Transformation”, they not only describe the content and goals of the workshops, but also the motivation behind the expert dialogue.
The design of AI – a “continuous task for society”
Their hypothesis: AI design is a “continuous task for society”. After all, AI is firstly an enabling technology on which many future innovations and applications will be based. Secondly, AI offers more than just a helping hand that can be used, for example, to replace monotonous tasks in production sequences, perform demanding physical work in factories or evaluate complex datasets in data centres. AI systems can do so much more: as it develops, AI can also take on cognitive tasks that have been mainly reserved for humans up to now.
This begs the question as to what an appropriate human-machine relationship could look like? Only through dialogue can the technology's opportunities be seized – in the workplace, both for companies and, in particular, for employees.
The discussion paper shows that the three letters “HTI” present a “continuous task for society” – which is precisely where the expert dialogue “HTI – Working with AI” makes an important contribution.