A 2013 report called ‘The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation?’ left some occupations like soccer umpires feeling very vulnerable, and designers feeling very smug. However as a weird mix of content strategist, UX designer and former poker player my smug job-secure world was thrown upside down by the success of the Libratus poker AI in January of this year – the first to comprehensively beat multiple poker professionals over a series of four days.
If you’re wondering what poker has to do with design – the answer is a lot! In this talk I’ll cover why the mix of probability, pattern-matching, human behaviour and context in poker strategy is a good model for design, how game theory in poker strategy might be used to ‘solve’ design (and possibly front-end dev!), where design AI efforts are at, and why we should stop treating AI like a digital butler and start imagining the tools of the future – even it if puts you out of a job.
Algorithms.design is a huge collection of links created by Yury Vetrov that includes many of the ones in the document (in a much nicer format), spanning current tools by function, examples of generative design in other disciplines, intros to AI/ML, and ethics.
Also while it’s not specifically about AI – if you are interested in discussions around design ethics, the community in the How Might We Do Good Slack is tackling things like a design ethics framework, collective action, and the toolkit for overcoming the barriers to doing good:
Libratus poker AI and poker AI history
https://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/29/news-views-gossip/brains-vs-ai-poker-rematch-coming-rivers-casino-1647075/ (CW: this is a poker forum so proceed with caution)
Poker endgame theory/systems
I also highly recommend watching the AlphaGo documentary on Netflix!
AI design tools and projects
Ethics and AI
Automation and the future of work
Diversity and inclusion (or lack of) in AI
AI progress and current state overviews
Relationship between AI and humans
AI applications in mental health
Overview of design/UX + AI
Things that didn’t have a group!
Cory-Ann Joseph – Why a poker-playing AI should have designers looking for a new job
Cory-Ann is a UX designer, a copywriter and a former professional poker player.
Cory-Ann became a serious poker player in 2008, although it’s important to note it has no relationship with what you see in the movies. It’s more like staring at tiled windows, building a database of hands and players. She played for about six months before giving it up.
The software used to play pro poker was all pretty bad, really ugly and hard to use.
She found herself thinking “there must be a job where you fix bad websites”… so in 2009 she got a job at a UX consultancy, intially in sales but then moving into the consultancy side.
The Nash equilibrium was being applied to solve hands of poker; and Cory-Ann wondered if you could solve design in the same way?
- Poker players are grouped by playing style and behaviours, which is similar to personas
- Both have fixed and fluid elements
- Both use a process of many solutions, with refinement
- Both are fundamentally about human behaviour and actions
It seemed like she was on to something. But in 2010 the technology just wasn’t good enough to be able to beat human poker players. It wasn’t even close. Then later in 2013 design was ranked as being incredibly safe from the rise of AI, compared with many other professions.
But then in 2016 a computer was able to beat a human Go player, which was ranked as being even more difficult than poker… and in January 2017 the Libratus Poker AI soundly beat several professional poker players! At which point she paniced a little and set up a five year plan to get out of design…
So what’s the landscape now? There are many AI-based products, including some successful sketch-to-code experiments. Design is not immune to AI.
There’s also another thought though – if demand for design grows the way Jakob Nielsen expected, there will be a shortfall. There will not be enough people to do all the design jobs. So what’s not going to get designed?
There is no agreed or clear vision of the future. There are people predicting both that design will be taken over by AI and that it won’t.
We should consider what companies might look like without UX and designers, what would they be doing instead?
@coryannj | The huge reading list