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Michael McLeod

Teachers vs Robots: Information Architecture and Assistive Artificial Intelligence

Friday, March 24 1:15 pm – 1:35 pm

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Session Summary

Information workers face being replaced by artificial intelligence just as many types of workers face being replaced by robots. We are told that machines can work faster and better and cheaper than humans, and in some ways they already are: robots are writing simple articles for the Associated Press, for example. There is still time to make the case for humans, however, and information architects are uniquely positioned to lead in the development of ethical technologies that augment and empower us rather than replace us.

This session will illustrate the role information architects can play in advocating for humans by presenting a case study in the development of a learning technology. Writing teachers face a serious threat from machines capable of scanning student essays and giving automated feedback – machines that can seemingly replace them. The speaker will make a case for why these machines can’t effectively replace human teachers and demonstrate how he helped build an app with teachers that actually had the potential to help students improve. He’ll illustrate how information architecture guided that process from requirements gathering to deployment and how understanding teacher data needs made it easier to develop tools to augment their work. With machine assistance and well-designed displays, the app could provide teachers with analytics and insights about where they could make timely, precise, evidence-based interventions that would have the greatest impact for students.

From this case study, the speaker will offer some generalized principles for information architects that can help them study human knowledge work and guide the development of ethical machines to augment that work. Information architects are best qualified for understanding and describing the relationships between humans and information, and if we don’t work toward supporting and augmenting humans, it won’t be long before we’re working for – not with – our robots.

About the Speaker

My background is in education, with degrees in English and in teaching, but I traded a classroom of my own for a career in #edtech and UX that allows me to work with other teachers and design products with them and their students that have the potential to make a real difference.