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Blog 2: Humanizing Automation


"Ultimately we are creating autonomy for humans, not for the robots. Everything we design is for that human goal – we are not done when the robot is fully autonomous." - USTWO

I'm staying on the same tangent on my last blog post and am going to add some more thoughts on how we can best prepare for and make autonomy more humane.


1. Listen to Humans. The first step is to include human factors experts. It may sound obvious, but it is important to recognize that engineers should not have full control over creating autonomous systems. Even if the human was taken out of a process, our trusty human factors expert now has the task of reevaluating how this new system fits into the human goal. The purpose of automation, from a human factors standpoint, is to make humans more autonomous and free. Assuming this product team cares about more than a bottom line of efficiency, the system should be strictly analyzed for how a potential user or stakeholder is affected emotionally.


2. Listen to their emotions. On the note of task analysis, designers should look at the emotional processes within existing conventions and systems before automating them. If an experience is negative then there is room to make people happier! If the process is something that people enjoy or feel positive about, efforts should be made to preserve the feeling the users get when interacting with the system at all costs.


3. Leave it to humans. Things like ethics and efficiency are better left to robots to standardize, but we may have to let things be sometimes for sensitive situations. We don't want a robot delivering diagnoses to cancer patients or hospice-bound people, empathy and human touch is needed in these situations. When there are interactions that require empathy, intrinsic judgment, and the unpredictability that a human can provide to life, it's better to let it be. No matter what, we won't be able to relate to a machine on a human level, so machines will not be much help in those moments when someone is on a metaphorical or physical ledge.



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