Blog #10: Reflection / Projections

Reflections

I really enjoyed my time in this class, and continue to be excited by the prospects of human-machine systems and the creativity involved in how we design them. I was particularly interested in our study of social robotics, and the applicability of this domain in so many different fields. Specifically, I’m interested in how social robotics could be incorporated into classrooms. A study published in the Science Robotics Review Journal displayed similar results in effectiveness in social robots as peers and tutors as their human counterparts in teaching curriculum to students. As we discussed in class, other applications of these robots could be in serving particular cohorts of people, like the elderly or people with autism.

Although we tended to talk about the issue throughout the course, I think dedicating an entire class to the ethics of these automated systems we study could be really interesting and invaluable. Specifically with machine learning and artificial intelligence, we as designers have a lot of control. Understanding the impact of systems and controls we create is vital to ensuring that these technologies work to benefit people and not the opposite.

Projections

Turns out our future vehicle isn’t a hovercraft after all, but rather a car that drives itself (at least for now). In my opinion, the self driving car will be the next frontier. As we saw in this course, these systems already exist. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if ten years from now cars that drive themselves are the norm. I wonder if automation will expand to other means of transportation – self driving trains, buses, planes? Automation has evaded these modes of travel as well. I see automation as inevitable in this realm, but what is the unknown to me lies in how we will react and evolve as a society to them. How will automation positively impact us – will there be less accidents, less traffic? Or will these systems contribute to more risk, more traffic? I really don’t know, and I have mixed feelings about this projected future of travel.

At least for the near future, I believe humans will be creating and designing these automated devices independently of the robots’ input. However, I’m curious how the tech industry in general will change – who will be the next generation of scientists, engineers, innovators? How will this field grow? How will human factors grow? While I’m uncertain about the makeup of our future technological pioneers, I am certain in my conviction that human factors is a necessary consideration in the design process.

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