Tag Archive | Futures thinking

Utopia or Dystopia? How is the Future Looking like in Service Design?

By Salla Kuuluvainen
I recently attended two events which made me think about futures thinking and it’s relation to service design and innovation. Innovation, by definition, is an act that reaches towards the future, and and engages the innovator in creating a future that may be something they wish for.. or not. How can we as innovators and service designers engage in creating those desirable futures?

50 years from 1968

I attended an event in Tiedekulma where the year 1968 was discussed. I went there, not because my studies of service design, but because I’m interested in changing the world, and when younger, also identified as an activist. One of the speakers, Johanna Vuorelma, a historian, claimed that politics in today’s world no longer are utopistic. In 1968 there was a real sense of trying to build a better, different world from previous’ generations’ with a World War and its horrors.

I could agree on that. The revolutionaries and activists of today no longer reach for a desirable future, instead they try to preserve something of old: a somewhat habitable planet or a shred of human rights, or a homeland that looks like in 1950`s if they are active in the conservative movements. So activism today may look like the same thing as
in the crazy year of 1968, but actually the drivers and motivators behind the actions may be very different.

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Futurist as Designer

Another event I attended during Helsinki Design Week was Futures Talks, organized by Futures Specialists Helsinki. In the event we heard many different ideas and scenarios for future, some more positive than others. The idea that impacted me the most had to do with design thinking. The organizers discussed the idea of designing our futures, meaning that studies of the futures thinking is not just a passive act of trying predict what will happen – instead a we should see how each of our actions and choices creates the future in this very moment.
In conclusion of these two events I thought that maybe utopistic thinking does not happen in the realm of activism and politics anymore, but that sometimes more optimism and positive energy for change can be found around events that discuss design and innovation. Our final task at the event by FSH was to create a future wall with post-it notes about our personal utopias, dystopias or protopias – protopia meaning a world that is better by a small, achievable change. Maybe Service Design is actually just about that – creating a protopia for our everyday lives.

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We Should All Be Interested in Ethical Questions Related to AI

by Miikka Paakkinen

This post is the second of a two-part blog series on design topics related to artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. Click here to read part one on trust.

Note: I will not go deeper in to explaining the concepts of AI and robotics in this post. For a summary on the technologies and the differences between them, check out this excellent article on Medium.com: https://medium.com/@thersa/what-is-the-difference-between-ai-robotics-d93715b4ba7f


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A modern organisation chart? From Work Up! x HDW: AI and Ethics

 

New artificial intelligence solutions are popping up everywhere, including the public sector. The amount of available data and constantly increasing computing power make it possible for algorithms to take on more and more complex tasks.

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7 Things to Consider When Designing for Trust in AI and Robotics

by Miikka Paakkinen

This post belongs to a two-part blog series on design topics related to artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. You can read part two on ethics by clicking here.

Note: I will not go deeper in to explaining the concepts of AI and robotics in this post. For a summary on the technologies and the differences between them, check out this excellent article on Medium.com: https://medium.com/@thersa/what-is-the-difference-between-ai-robotics-d93715b4ba7f


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Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

 

Will artificial intelligence take our jobs and make us useless? Can we trust the robots? The public discussion around these emerging technologies often seems to paint a negative, even dystopian picture of the future. When it comes to disruptive technological change, this is nothing new though. Lack of information or transparency usually leads to fear instead of trust towards the technology. But can we tackle this issue of trust with design?

 

Last week I attended a Helsinki Design Week seminar called “Future Talks”. It was organized by Future Specialists Helsinki and featured four keynote speeches loosely related to designing for trust in future services. Inspired by the event, I decided to write this blog post and dig a little deeper on the theme of trust in AI and robotics.

 

Why is trust important?

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Ilkka Halava at Future Talks

 

If users don’t trust a service, they will not use it unless it’s absolutely necessary. This is obvious, but all the more important to acknowledge in the age of extreme competition and easy availability of information and alternatives. As futures researcher Ilkka Halava put it in his keynote at “Future Talks”, digitalization is a massive power shift from systems to humans. Bad and untrustworthy services will quickly become obsolete because they can easily be bypassed.

 

When creating services based on new technologies that users might not fully comprehend, such as AI or robotics, it’s especially important to gain trust for the service to succeed and provide value.

 

The question then seems to be – how can we design trust?

 

7 things to consider

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Olli Ohls at Future Talks

 

To answer that question, we need to understand the core elements that foster trust towards such technologies.

 

At “Future Talks”, Olli Ohls (Robotics Lead at Futurice) talked about key points on research results regarding what creates trust in the field of social robotics.

 

Similar results could be noted in Innovation Management Professor Ellen Enkel’s 2017 Harvard Business Review research article related to trust in AI-based technologies (which you can read here: https://hbr.org/2017/04/to-get-consumers-to-trust-ai-show-them-its-benefits).

 

Based on Ohls’s speech and Enkel’s article, I compiled a summary of seven things to consider when designing for trust in AI and robotics:

 

  1. Transparency – when the purpose and intention of the AI or robot is clear, and the underlying logic is understood by the user, it is much more likely to be trusted. A major positive impact was noticed in robotics when a robot was able to verbally explain its purpose to a user, as pointed out by Ohls. The development process behind the technology should also be transparent.
  2. Compatibility – the technology obviously needs to match with the problem it’s trying to solve. It’s also important to consider how users feel how it matches with their values and guides them towards their goals.
  3. Usability – the more intuitive and easier the innovation is to use, the better the chance of creating trust. Additionally, users should be able get a basic understanding of how the technology in question works, what its limitations are, and how one should work with it. As a crude comparison: it’s hard to start driving a truck if you don’t understand the basics of what automobiles do.
  4. Trialability – when users can test the solution before actual implementation, perceived risk is reduced. A trial can be conducted, for example, via a prototype.
  5. Performance – seeing an AI or a robot make a small mistake here or there won’t likely hinder our trust toward it, but constantly underperforming will. Expectation management is important here – users need to know what the technology is supposed to achieve and how it should do it.
  6. Security – the technology should be perceived to be safe to use from both a physical and a data security viewpoint.
  7. Control vs. autonomy – it’s important to understand the context and the purpose of the technology and find the suitable level of automation. Ask the question: should we lean towards the technology making the decisions, or the technology assisting a human in making decisions?

 

Takeaways and thoughts

 

AI and robotics are still very new to most people and the concepts might seem intimidating. To use the technologies to create real value, we need to design services around them that are trustworthy for their users and for the society at large. Keeping the points above in mind during your service design project could be a good start in working towards that trust.

 

The author Miikka Paakkinen is an MBA student in Service Innovation and Design with a background in business management and information technology.

 


 

What do you think of the list? Could your experiences regarding trust in services be translated to AI or robotics? Please share your thoughts below!

 

Next era of well-being

Since it was founded 50 years ago, Sitra has been a futures house and they have just updated their megatrends report from a Nordic viewpoint. As Finland’s celebrating its 100 year anniversary Sitra wanted to highlight the megatrends affecting work, democracy and inclusion, and growth and progress that are relevant to the Nordic model as all of these  themes are specifically at the core of the Nordic model’s future. Elina Kiiski-Kataja from Sitra presented these for the Futures Specialist Helsinki group on 4th of December. Here’s my recap of the event – thank you Minna Koskelo & Futures Specialist Helsinki for making this possible and Elina for having us and offering an insightful morning.

What’s the new normal for work?

The first inspected megatrend was about the future of work – what’s the new normal? What’s the role of technology and humans versus robots? Most people are still working in steady paid jobs at this moment but what about in 2040? Sitra states in their updated megatrend report that there are 2 possible scenarios:

  1. Work changes but there is plenty for all
  2. Only a few people have work and even fewer benefit from the results

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The change forces behind this scenario are described in the above slide on the left hand side – automation, robotisation, artificial intelligence and digital platforms are changing all areas of work.

So what can we do? We need new models for life long learning to keep people from dropping off from the work force. Our old model getting educated while you’re in your twenties will not work anymore. And on income distribution – do we aim for more or less equality in our society? The basic income model is just being tested in Finland. The Institute of the Future in California is researching  a universal livelihood model and sees this from the viewpoint of capital and assets, not just work income. Should there be passports to school, healthcare etc. ? If we do not find models to help in this change the price to pay is increasing unrest and upheaveals in our society.

How is democracy doing?

We are no longer members of political parties, just 3% of us belong to a party. There has been a significant change is the culture of communication and discussion – the development of tech and globalization can have a major disruptive influence on the democratic system says Sitra. Everything is connected – well-being, education, trust, economy.

Increase in participation to general discussion can provide a counter power to globalization. Power is in the hands of few people but we can all have an effect on the quality of democracy. In the light of research the people who are participating (voting and getting their voice heard) are more well off than the ones not participating. But even in the US half of the people didn’t vote in the presidential elections – is democracy getting broken? Sanna Aaltonen from the Youth Research Foundation says that social infrastructure has not been built as the focus has been on technology. She also asks where will the trust in future encounters be built. Everything is connected – well-being, education, trust, economy.

The two scenarios for democracy (see slide below) are:

  1. Transparency, innovativeness and inclusion will flourish in democracies
  2. Power concentrates in the hands of the few and exclusion and disruption will increase

A strong local democracy and global decision-making are needed for scenario 1 to happen – to build a common, not divided, future. We need people who want to save the world and combine scientists and decision-makers to find solutions to the wicked problems. As well as lovable technology that understands humans and our behavior and leaves space for humans.  We need to go where people are, not just build new channels. And note the importance of communication and data as in spring 2018 the new data law will widen the gap between US and EU. In SDN conference in Madrid in 2017 it was discussed that service design is one of the enablers for building a bridge between senior citizens, refugees and tech.

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What are we aiming for – economic growth or well-being?

Economic growth based on overconsumption of natural resources is not sustainable. The economy is at crossroads and the two scenarios offered on this are:

  1. Will we seek growth by using all the means available and risk ruining our planet  and wither away OR
  2. Aim for well-being and manage to decouple economic growth and overuse of natural resources resulting in growing well-being even faster than economy

What makes you feel better, what increases your well-being? And can you and I change our values and get from talk to walk as the world changes?

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“Renewal starts with us, people. Even though the megatrends shaping the world extend all the way to Finland, the future is still largely in our own hands – if that is what we decide,” says Mikko Kosonen, head of Sitra. Trends offer a road to development and renewal as Minna Koskelo commented.

The future of the Nordic model is dependent on our reaction to the above presented 3 megatrends.

Link to Sitra’s presentation can be found here Sitra megatrends 2017

Licence to Fail

Design now – a day of discussion on the future of design
Harald Herlin learning centre, Otaniemi, Espoo
2.11.2017

The day packed with talks and discussions was all about defining what design is going to be in the future.

We heard an inspirational speech from Anna Valtonen (Vice President for Art and Creative Practices, Aalto Uni, FI). Valtonen raised questions about design shaping the future as well as renewing the society. In the future we need to have various viewpoints, not just follow our own individual paths as designers. We are also going to need new ways of viewing phenomena. Valtonen’s message is that designers are advocates for the unmeasurable: designers have the means to make the invisible visible and tangible. The world is changing and we (designers) need to keep up with the change.

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Anna Valtonen: Why Design Now?

 

Kalevi “Eetu” Ekman (Design Factory Director & PDP Professor, FI) reminded us in his videotalk that design is always there: it is done either consciously or unconsciously. Ekman underlined that a trained designer can change things dramatically. As an example he named industrial companies that have a lot of engineers working for them. A skilled designer can make a huge impact on thinking in such companies.

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TOMORROW is being made today

Tomorrow conference

Tomorrow conference was held at Helsinki music centre on 10th of June 2015.

I as a student had the privilege to attend to this thought-provoking and networking event with world-class speakers from diverse fields. Thanks to Lauri Ahonen, the event organizer and the front seat guests that made the participation for students possible.

For those of you that where not able to participate, I share some of the messages from few of the speakers.

FACING UNCERTAINTY

Pekka Haavisto, a Green member of Finnish Parliament and Member of Committee for Foreign Affairs, opened the conference. He encouraged us to know other continents cultures better by being open minded, exploring the world and stepping into the shoes of foreigners to see the world from the different angles. It was a good message to export field – knowing the culture and its people is the first priority to have successful business abroad.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the author of The Black Swan and Antifragile, raised issues like how companies that love errors are more likely to gain in the world where uncertainty is reality. When competition is everywhere the least expected happenings, the side-effects, can more often be the ones that lead to new business. Those that concentrate to lowering risks are also lowering their variability which means in the long run that their are dropping they ability to survival. Too centralized big countries, companies or projects are more fragile than the small ones.

For individual point of view I see that being always curious to new things, doing many things you love in life, having many incomes from different fields makes you strong and “antifragile”.

MAKING IDEAS HAPPEN

Write the futureTuuti Piippo, the author of Futuremakers, spread positive energy when describing the hero`s journey.

You do not need to know everything, but you definitely need to have the passion to learn. Everybody can be a hero. You need to have the courage to explore exciting things that you may be little scared off. Ask a lot of questions to learn and be humble to ask help. Then you need to be strong enough to go through the challenges in the journey where you are making failures and standing up again and again. I love her attitude.

I think her message raises a question for all of us: Are you the hero, the pilot, of your own life or just passenger?

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Service Design meets Futures Thinking #4

A research based series of posts discussing the statement “Futures Research supports the Service Design process in multiple ways and throughout the whole process” by Minna Koskelo (LinkedIn) and Anu K. Nousiainen (Linkedin).

Part #4: We are in the Service Innovation business!

Our three (and a half) previous blog entries have been summarizing the purpose of our study initiated in 2012 and the main findings from the study including the synergies between (Service) Design Thinking and Futures Thinking, and our illustration for Futures Research enhanced Service Design process. After some more investigation (selection of 150 books and articles) and integrating the strategic business thinking into the model with Katri Ojasalo (Linkedin), (our Head of Master’s Degree Programme in Service Innovation and Design here at Laurea University of Applied Sciences) we are proud to announce our forthcoming chapter in an international Handbook of Service Innovation (to be published by Springer in early 2014). Indeed, we have came into a realization:

What we’ve done so far is not only about Futures enhanced Service Design – instead, this is the next chapter in building unique, synergistic and dynamic capabilities for Service Innovation.

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Take a novel path to create new business opportunities and new value

 It has been clear from the beginning of our study that Design Thinking and Futures Thinking share a strong synergy in their principles and targets. Now it is crystal clear that by combining their unique approaches in innovation process results in bright and viable business opportunities (see process framework A. below). While Futures Thinking concentrates on driving forces in complex evolving systems and alternative contexts, Design Thinking embraces the viewpoint of system constraints and people oriented solutions. Not only this powerful combination gives you options for decision making in strategic and offering creation level but it tackles the two critical challenges in today’s (and tomorrow’s) business: Uncertainty and timing in creating Value Roadmaps in the interconnected and changing world. Here, Futures Thinking helps to make uncertainty easier to approach through providing alternatives for decision making and therefore improving organization’s readiness to act. Design Thinking improves the organization’s agility to seize the change with emphatic, adaptive and deep research approach and through iterative co-designing with customers to provide desirable, feasible and viable options for solutions.

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