Work In Progress
Our Elements guide is still in progress, and therefore lacks full visual and technical assets. We hope to release them by summer of 2020. Thanks for reading Lingua Franca!
A mark is a simple indicator to help users recognize when their actions contribute to an AI model. This allows users to quickly perceive that a decision they made (such as rearranging a song on a playlist) may influence future recommendations the system makes. Users will also be able to make more intentional decisions to improve the AI’s model if they are aware of which of their decisions impacted it.
AI is governed by complex relationships, many of which are rather inscrutable to users. A common misunderstanding by users of AI platforms is which decisions of theirs actually contribute to the AI. For example, users of Facebook may worry that their feed will fill with content from their family if they keep viewing pictures from their family members. This may or may not actually be true in reality, but Facebook does not detail the impact of individual user interactions.
The mark allows platforms to display to users how their AI systems change based on behavior. This can be as simple as a colored dot, icon, or animation that is shown for every action that updates the AI. For example, in a music app, skipping and ‘disliking’ a song may both influence the model, but users may not realize this. By placing the same icon next to each of these actions, users are visually alerted to that, and may make different decisions as a result.
Using a mark can create a virtuous cycle where users make helpful gestures and interactions in an effort to improve their own personalization, thus improving personalization across the platform. However, if users seek to sabotage or undermine the product, these marks may increase the damage they can do (see Intuition). Therefore, take care to ensure that a marked action is not simply a form of feedback, but actually alters the user’s experience of the product.
A consistently colored mark can go a long way towards improving interpretability of a personalized product. Typically, if a user wants to turn off personalization features, the mark should disappear as well, to visually reinforce that the interactions are not being recorded. Additionally, tapping or selecting the mark could bring up a settings menu or other informational tooltip.