The next generation of storytelling

How can AI help us discover new ways to create and tell stories?

Mara Pometti
AIxDESIGN
Published in
8 min readAug 2, 2021

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Explaining AI with visual narratives

I heard a song recently on one of Spotify’s curated “Made for You” playlists, and it hit me that I hadn’t heard that particular song in ages. I used to listen to it constantly and Spotify didn’t even exist back then. How could its algorithm possibly have known it was relevant to me? Yep, that’s a rhetorical question. Surprise, surprise: it isn’t only historical data that feeds algorithms.

So, you might wonder — What other data are being used to predict my interests in music?

That, I’m sorry to say, is a question for engineers building algorithms and training models, but it is a good question. A question I’d like to find an answer to every time that, for example, Netflix recommends me a new show that I end up loving like crazy or, speaking of less frivolous topics when I hear a friend of mine complaining because she did not qualify for a second credit card.

Spotify recommending me “Made for you” playlists

It would be useful to have a behind-the-scenes window to peek at the algorithms making the decisions that impact our lives and see what’s behind the final output we get. In fact, AI is so pervasive in our lives that people don’t always realize when it’s being employed. Often the use of this technology is so subtle that it could be easily hidden behind a simple picture or a phone notification. After all, if you don’t know the rules, how could you possibly understand the game?

Having a clear explanation of the data that has been used to train a model, how the model works, and how it is being deployed is so crucial to gain full control of how AI impacts us. This refers to everyone, but especially to those who are not technically savvy and know very little about how AI works.

To enhance people’s awareness of AI, we have to first explain the meaning of a model’s recommendations and the context surrounding that final output. My background in data journalism and information design inspired me to question the methods we usually employ to communicate the results of models and algorithms.

How can we reimagine the ways we communicate the AI’s outcome?

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Mara Pometti
AIxDESIGN

AI Strategy at IBM. “The most valuable commodity in business today, if people would only recognize it, is enthusiasm” –R.J.