Category Archives: Collaborate

Collaborate Bristol Part 4 – Talks by Catalina Butnaru and Eriol Fox

What stands in the way of Ethical AI?
Catalina Butnaru

Who do we design for? It is probably not who you think (or want). We want to design for the end-user, but we are often promoting the views of the business stakeholders. If they don’t approve of something, then it can’t be delivered.

There are several false beliefs with AI:

  • AI created super human intelligence
  • AI can be ethical

These are both false and any attempts to achieve this will product ethical zombies – something that cannot think for itself.

Designers need to account for the ethical design of AI applications. To achieve this, several ethical principles need to be established:

  • Privacy
    The ability to be switched off at the request of the user
  • Well being
    Deploying the application doesn’t harm a human (physically or mentally)
  • Accountability
    The user is able to report on unfair outcomes
  • Transparency
    It must be clear to the user that the application uses AI. It must also be clear how the AI makes its decisions
  • Awareness of Misuse
    It should be clear that the system can be misused, how it can be misused and the user should be able to report this when it has happened

Only when these principles have been implemented can a MEP be achieved – Minimum Ethical Product.

Diverse representations in design and awkward conversations with colleagues
Eriol Fox

There is no such thing as a completed neutral tool. Everyone is guilty of unconscious bias which can have an effect on the design of products. Lack of representation of certain demographics can also lead to misunderstandings. To avoid this, we need to start having these awkward conversations so that there is a more accurate representation. Reach out to users, include them so that there is a better understanding of what they want and need.

Stock photos that don’t represent real people, forms that only allow official names or male/female genders, proving the option for doctor male and doctor female instead of just doctor (why?). The list goes on.

These have become known as edge cases, or people we don’t care about or don’t represent the main users. They are excuses we make when we don’t want to discuss certain people. Instead, we should use the term ‘stress cases’ – cases that need more attention.

Applications should be make for anyone to use, not just those who we see as ‘normal’.

Several books were recommended. I’m currently reading ‘Technically Wrong’. A lot of the examples used in the talk are mentioned in this book, I strongly recommend reading it. I’ve already ordered ‘The Politics of Design’ on Amazon.

Final Thoughts…

Positive user experience and collaboration are essential when software testing. With all the software testing events that I take part in, it is good to step back and think things through a little differently. Collaborate Bristol 2019 gave me an opportunity to do just that. I now have new avenues of research to explore, which will help expand my knowledge and experience in software testing.

Thankyou Simon Norris and the other organisers at Collaborate Bristol for an enjoyable and informative day.


Collaborate Bristol Part 3 – Talks by Gavin Strange and Hilary Brownlie

Don’t make it perfect, make it now
Gavin Strange

Never before have I seen such an energetic talk as the one that was given by Gavin Strange.

It was full of messages that centred around the idea of being creative and trying out new ideas. Generate new ideas, develop them, try them out, experiment. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Some prefer to take a more targeted approach with an end-goal in mind. Others like to take a more exploratory approach. Doesn’t matter which, try out these ideas.

Seek creative satisfaction wherever you can get it. How do you find time? Use a time circle to map out the amount of time you have in the day. There are 24 hours in total, how much of this time do you spend on eating, sleeping and working. How much time do you have left over? How do you spend this time? Allocate some time for side-projects. Your career can flourish from these side projects, and from sharing them.

The most important thing is that you share your ideas and creations. Even if they don’t work out, even if its ugly, the very fact it exists make it important. It should be shared with the world.

“If we don’t tell our stories no one else will” – Mira Nair

Flying the plane while changing the engine
Hilary Brownlie

Who are we designing products for? The customer of course. What happens when we start designing ‘with’ the customer instead of ‘for’ the customer? A drastic culture change that encourages collaboration and benefits both the user and the organisation.

In this talk, Hilary Brownlie walks us through how this culture change occurred. Instead of starting with a brief, the question ‘what could we improve?’ was asked. This led to the Scottish Approach to Service Design (SAtSD), an approach where services are designed with the customers, rather than for the customers. The ideas that developed from this approach led to the company culture changing that had more empathy and encouraged designers to listen to the users. Overall, there was a much stronger focus on the user.

Collaborate Bristol Part 2 – Talks by Jon Fisher and Georgia Rakusen

Falling between the cracks
Jon Fisher

Could a product have the capability of killing someone?

Three real life examples were given:

  1. Chernobyl
    A mixture of poor design and human behaviour led to the core in one of the nuclear reactors exploding. This was caused by an optimising violation where someone attempts to break the rules with the intent of achieving someone good. In this example, the engineers wanted the safety test to pass so they broke crucial safety rules to do so. In total 31 people died (if you believe the official statistics).
  2. Railway Safety
    Unfortunately, I did not write enough down to fully remember or understand this particular scenario but it involved someone working at a computer where they had to perform repetitive tasks. A chain of events led to the person at the computer making a mistake due to the repetitiveness of his work. The railway line became fully electrified while an engineer was doing maintenance work. Fortunately, no one died. Unfortunately, the engineer had to have both his hands amputated.
  3. Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302
    The cause of this plane crash is still under investigation, however it is generally believed to have been caused by a sensor recording the wrong flight angle. The computer decided to dip the plan to correct this angle. The pilot noticed this and attempted to stop the plane from dipping. The pilot and the computer were fighting each other – the computer won the fight and 157 people died.
The Swiss cheese model was mentioned as a way to show that there will always be several holes in the design. Accidents can happen when those holes are perfectly aligned.

When designing a product, the desired outcome is to deliver value to the customer. Is there an obsession with value? Are we even aware of the potential risks and pains involved when delivering that value?

The human will try and do things the tech team believed they shouldn’t and won’t do. Humans are unpredictable – they they probably do the unexpected. No matter how many levels of defence, there will always exist that perfect chain of events that can result in catastrophe.

I have one observation with the examples mentioned above. We have 2 situations where a human was trying to fight the system. In one case, the human won resulting in Chernobyl. In another, the system won resulting in the Ethiopia plane crash. Do we design to allow a human to take over when required when the computer has gotten it wrong? Or, do we design to prevent a human taking over so they don’t do something stupid?

Web 3.0: How blockchain will change the way we interact with one another
Georgia Rakusen

Thew world is full centralised systems who control everything we do. What is the problem with centralisation? Everything is controlled by a central organisation who have all the power. All information is controlled by the central power, which can create questionable integrity.

Centralized vs decentralized vs distributed processing
Centralized vs decentralized vs distributed processing

Blockchains allow information to be stored across a network of computers. Because the information is not stored at a central location, it is not owned by a single person or company. Multiple people are encouraged to cooperate to verify the information and transactions are valid. Since the information is stored and checked by multiple sources, the overall system has better integrity.

A few examples were given where such a system has been beneficial.

CIvil – The journalism industry is reliant on ad revenue which influences content. As a result, we have no idea what information is correct or not. A decentralised system of co-ownership and participation can help build a more integral industry. Members have to follow a code of conduct and can be voted out if that code is broken.

Openlaw – Normally, legal contracts are controlled by a lawyer. This can make any legal process slow and cumbersome. Instead, legal agreements are created and signed on a block chain. Without any central lawyer, it is easier to raise disputes. Ultimately, all parties involved have to agree.

UPort – an open identity system where personal information can be easily transferred to new platforms. The user has better control over what information they want to share, and what information they want to hide.

I found this great video explains what blockchain is better than I do.

I hope you enjoy reading my summaries. I find its a great way to review my notes and record my own interpretation of the talk. Next post will be about the talks by Gavin Strange and Hilary Brownlie.

Collaborate Bristol Part 1 – Talks by Onkardeep Singh MBE and Juliana Martinhago

On Friday 21st July 2019, I attended Collaborate Bristol – A UX and design conference. This is the second time I’ve attended this conference and, like last year, I learnt a great deal from it. I am normally so focused on software testing, it is easy to forget the importance of the user experience. I definitely encourage others to research alternative subject areas that may offer a different outlook to your main interests.

I was pleasantly surprised to find myself on the front cover of the program – in a photo taken of the audience last year, you can just see me on the second row.

In total there were 8 talks on varying topics. In this blog post, I am going to start by writing what I learnt from the first 2 talks – by Onkardeep Singh and Juliana Martinhago

Being passionate, not precious, about your work
Onkardeep Singh MBE

Passion – intense desire or enthusiasm for something
Precious – something that is of great value that must not be wasted.

This first talk explored the workings of the mind. As someone who has always struggled to understand the basic concepts of psychology, I fear this talk may have gone a little over my head. However, it was still an interesting talk and I’m going to do my best to provide my own interpretation.

During this talk, Onkardeep asked the audience a couple of questions:

  • Thoughts and feelings com before an action – true or false
  • Humans are unique because we are in control of our thoughts and actions – true or false

The responses to these questions were mixed. The truth is there is no concrete answer. It is quite common for someone to consciously think before they act, however there often comes a time where that same person might run on autopilot. Sometimes we have control over our actions, but not always – mistakes can happen.

Our actions may be better explained by what is most important to us. If we detach ourselves then our actions aren’t affected as much by our thoughts. When we see something as precious, we see it as being of great value. If we see something as valuable, then we are more likely to have strong thoughts and feelings about it. These thoughts and feelings can affect the way we act. By distancing ourselves from something, not seeing it as precious, we are less likely to have that strong reaction.

We need to be passionate about our work, and have that intense desire for things to go well. But we should avoid being precious about it, so that we don’t react too negatively when things go wrong.

Building great products and successful teams
Juliana Martinhago

Juliana is a product designer at Monzo – a banking app which I’ve never used and knew very little about until this talk.

Monzo was presented being a bank that aims to make banking easier, removing the normal frustration associated with traditional banks. This is achieved by having a strong focus on improving the user experience.

At Monzo, the teams are made up of ‘squads’ – small teams with a shared goal. They are formed around outcomes instead of features. This seems like a good idea as the feature may fail to achieve the desired outcome. Focusing on a outcome means that alternative ideas can be explored.

I can’t remember if the Spotify model was mentioned or if its used at Monzo, however I do know that this also uses ‘squads’.

They start each stand-up by asking the question: What is the most impactful thing we can do today to achieve X? This allows a backlog of ideas to be developed that could be used to achieve what ever X is (the outcome).

One feature available in Monzo is the ‘labs’. This is used to test new features. The user is able to switch on or off specific features which are still in development. Customers are aware that there the feature is still a working progress, but are given the opportunity to test it out early and provide early feedback.

The entire model used at Monzo is aimed at providing something meaningful for the customer, which provides a banking app with a vastly improved user experience.

I will continue publishing my write ups of the Collaborate Conference talks over the next couple of weeks. Next up will be ‘Falling between the cracks’ by Jon Fisher and ‘Web 3.0’ by Georgia Rakusen.