AIxDesign
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Meet the Community: Celine Dutier

Member Highlight — Introducing Designer and the AI Ethics Research Project Lead @AIxDesign

I met Celine in one of AIxDesign community hangouts a few months ago when she just joined us. Till then I only heard about how responsible and well organized she is in the collaborative project which she is leading within the community. So, I decided to invite her for a virtual coffee and learn more about her, and her thoughts on AI, Research, and Design. Grab a tea and join me.

Thanks, Celine for meeting with me! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I currently work as a designer in an AI accelerator company in France, and we work with big public organizations. Before that, I studied and worked as a designer/design researcher in various countries like Finland, Sweden, the UK, or South Korea. On the side, I do paintings and illustrations. I also run a collaborative research project (‘Co AI Ethics’) through the AIxDesign community.

I heard so many good things about the project you’re doing in the community, can you please share with us what it is about and what are you working on there?

In a nutshell, It’s a collaborative project around the ethics of AI. But as you know, it’s quite a big field. So we decided to look through the Transparency prism — and have fun while investigating it! We’re currently exploring artefacts to 1) inform the end-user on an AI system, and 2) help companies be more transparent with their AI systems. Also, shout-out to my collaborators Nadia D, Nadia P, Reza, Fred, Siddharth, and Suhaib. They are the best! It’s such a pleasure to work altogether.

Let’s go a little bit back. What is your background?

I have a master’s in service design. Maybe it’s worth mentioning that I love neuroscience and neuropsychology — although I don’t have a degree in it, it has greatly shaped my way of thinking and working. I read a lot about neuroscience and neuropsychology.

How did you end up at this intersection?

I should say ‘life’ — unexpected events — and life choices. I was working in Korea for big electronic Korean companies. And that’s how I got into the realm of AI. What I find fascinating with AI is that you have another layer of complexity to work with. It is very interesting for me to work with all those layers, considering the ethics like fairness and transparency. And then, of course, for the company’s business, how do you create user behaviors, how do you collect data, how do you ask your users. If a company has user data, then they can offer them really good and valuable services, but how are you going to be trustworthy?

The thing with AI is that you’re predicting something, and so this prediction can impact your life in so many ways, and those can be small tiny ripples, or big, big waves.

How did you know about this community and join?

That’s a funny story. So one of my ex-classmates, Fred Wordie, published an article through the AIxDesign community. After reading his article, this community caught my eyes and I checked the LinkedIn page. That was when I found Nadia’s toolkit and I loved it right away. Sometime after, I joined the Slack community and got more involved.

Tell us a bit about why do you care about AIxDesign?

When COVID-19 happened, like a lot of people, I felt a bit lonely. Moreover, this is an opinion but the design scene in France is less mature than in the UK or in Scandinavian countries. I wanted to talk with people in this domain, to learn new things, and also to make friends. Also, there’s this saying “if you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. For me, AIxDesign is like that. When you’re on your own, you can only go that far because there’s just one brain involved, but when you’re part of a group of people, and everybody has their own life experiences, knowledge, mental models, then you can create amazing stuff.

In your opinion, what is the one thing that designers should know or understand about AI?

The thing with AI is that you’re predicting something, and so this prediction can impact your life in so many ways, and those can be small tiny ripples, or big, big waves. It’s just that we do not think of it yet: we focus on the immediate or near-future outcomes. So, I think it would be nice for designers to be mindful of how their design can impact someone’s life.

What is the one thing that engineers know about AI about design?

I want to give the same answer as before! Maybe I’ll add that for the tech people, remember that a user is a person and that they have emotions and goals. So again, be mindful of that, so that we can create respectful, trustworthy experiences.

How a person can incorporate ethics into a design process, in your opinion.

I love this question! I think ethics can be sometimes scary for the client. But it’s something that you have to go through, especially with public clients and big organizations. One way I found to weave ethics into the design process is to have a collaborative process. Stakeholders and users can talk and listen to each other. I design nice, participatory workshops for people to feel empowered and creative. Now they are engaged, and so they want to talk about ethics! The things we do during those workshops and research sessions are inspired by boundary objects: together we build a snapshot of the perception and expectations of a user/stakeholder. In doing so, we incorporate ethics in a very subtle way. You may not even say the word ethics to the client or the stakeholder, but you’re addressing the elephant in the room.

Who do you follow around these topics of AI and design l that you want to share with us?

Since I don’t use Twitter, I appreciate the AI design community for that. We have our channel here and we share projects and initiatives as food for thought. And that’s mostly where I stay up-to-date.

What is your favorite day today, AI feature that you daily use?

I want to say good ol‘ Spotify! There’s a reason why Spotify is used by so many. They have amazing experiences they can afford since they have a lot of data from their users.

What is your biggest fear about AI?

It might be extrapolating a bit to say it’s my biggest fear, but I have two concerns. The first is that some people are scared of AI. There is this fear of “AI will take my job”, “AI will surpass humans” and things like that because of movies and other cultural artefacts people created. It’s a bit sad because AI can help us have better work lives. AI can take the repetitive tasks, and let the human focus on the most valuable ones.

My second concern is that AI is so convenient to use, we do not take the time to be ‘data literate’. This is something we are currently investigating in my collaborative research project. It would be nice if we could explain to the noob user — and I’m putting myself in that category — the purpose and limitations of an AI system, and when possible on what the prediction is based on.

What is the next topic that you want to learn more about?

I want to learn more about AI, so as a designer I can also make more enlightened choices, and collaborate with tech folks even better. And I want to keep on learning about Neuroscience. I am always on the hunt for new podcasts or nuggets of knowledge about dr. Robert Sapolsky. He’s fantastic. He’s fantastic. He tells you why and how your experiences, your environment, and your biology shape your behavior. It truly is mind-blowing.

What do we not talk about enough in this intersection of AI and design, in your opinion?

How all past experiences and mental models are going to shape the way we think, the way we proceed with new information, the way we make a decision, and the kind of decision we take. I know it’s not easy, but it needs to be considered.

So, tell us as a designer, how is designing for AI different from any other formats that are out there?

I think I already touched upon that question, but it’s those layers of complexities AI brings us. We have to make predictions based on data: so whose data it is, how do you get that data, is everybody benefitting from that service, etc. Transparency, fairness,… all those layers. We have to be careful when we design an experience with AI, because it could impact someone’s life — tiny ripples or big waves. We just do not know it yet, as we focus on the immediate or near-future outcomes. We have to be careful of this layer of complexity.

Imagine that you are on a deserted island, and you only have the option to have one book, what would it.

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst, by Robert M. Sapolsky. It’s my bible.

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst is a 2017 non-fiction book by Robert Sapolsky.

What is your favorite podcast?

There are two podcast series I want to share, both are featuring Robert Sapolsky. The first one is a series of lectures on YouTube about Human Behavioural Biology, and the other one is a shorter one he recorded with Peter Attia about “The pervasive effect of stress”. Mind-blowing. Anything Robert Sapolsky says, please have a listen!

Where we can find, and reach you.

I have my website celinedutier.com and my LinkedIn @celinedutier. I share my illustration on Instagram @celine.and.leo.

Selection of Celine artwork. Source: Instagram

This interview was conducted by Boshra Javaheri.

About AIxDesign

AIxDesign is a place to unite practitioners and evolve practices at the intersection of AI/ML and design. We are currently organizing monthly virtual events, sharing content, exploring collaborative projects, and developing fruitful partnerships.

To stay in the loop, follow us on Instagram, Linkedin, or subscribe to our monthly newsletter to capture it all in your inbox. You can now also find us at aixdesign.co.

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Exploring practices at the intersection of AI/ML and design.

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Boshra Javaheri

Boshra Javaheri

Designer and researcher passionate about people, their experiences, emotions, and interactions with AI. Get to know me better @boshra.me

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