More-Than-Human Design and AI

In Conversation with Agents

Online Workshop - July 7-16, 2020


This workshop explores how to study and design (with) AI agents from a more-than-human design perspective. We invite you to experiment with thing ethnography and material speculations, as a starting point to map and possibly integrate emergent frameworks and methodologies for more-than-human design. By using conversational agents as a case, we will discuss what a more-than-human approach can offer to the understanding and design of AI systems, and how this aligns with third-wave HCI concerns of networks, infrastructures, and ecologies.

We will explore AI agents from a more-than-human design perspective along three themes: (1) How AI agents present themselves to humans; (2) What relations and ecologies they create within the contexts in which humans use them; (3) What networks and infrastructures they need to support themselves. Read more about the themes.

Still image of “Hey Google. What is sexual health?” (2018); a short film in which the viewer is invited to a tea talk with Google Home about sexual health. Video available at: https://vimeo.com/366238012

The workshop is a hands-on session of 3.5 hours in Zoom. We will work in groups to quickly prototype speculative agents and then interview them. For that, we will use first a defamiliarisation technique called Interview with Things, in which a person embodies an agent. In the second part, we will interview real agents, producing a shared questionnaire, that general public can use to interview and probe conversational agents.

In the last session of the workshop, we will reflect on the challenges and opportunities of using more-than-human approaches for understanding and designing (with) AI. Methodological reflections might include for example: Does the agency imparted to conversational agents help reveal our own biases as researchers? How does this approach differ from conventional human-centered approaches in design and ethnography? How can more-than-human design be aligned with third-wave HCI frameworks and approaches? What implications does AI have for design processes and how does it challenge traditional roles of users and designers?

Download the paper

There are different options for participating, depending on your time zone. This experimental  format allows us to develop an iterative outcome. Read more about the dates.

Submission Instructions
-submission is closed-
Notification of acceptance: June 29th

Note: The submission date can be made flexible for those unable to meet the deadline in consideration of COVID-19 and the BlackLivesMatter protests in the US. We express our solidarity with those who are on the front line of these major crises. For an extension, or if you have any question, please contact: i.nicenboim@tudelft.nl

We welcome designers and researchers from the DIS community and others, as well as designers, students, and practitioners interested in AI agents – including conversational agents, drones, robots, or speculative ones.
We encourage participants from different areas of expertise, including but not limited to: human-computer interaction (HCI), design, science and technology studies (STS), ethnography, design anthropology, design theory, data science, speculative and critical design, ethics of technology, feminist technoscience, posthumanism, environmental humanities, responsible innovation, voice interface design, and digital advocacy.

DIS Conference
The ACM conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS) is the premier, international arena where designers, artists, psychologists, user experience researchers, systems engineers and many more come together to debate and shape the future of interactive systems design and practice.

The theme for DIS2020 is “More than Human-Centred Design”. The aim of the theme is to rethink the research and contributions we make in design and HCI, by investigating non-humanist or posthumanist alternatives. These approaches displace the human at the centre of thought and action with humans and non-humans bound together materially, ethically, and existentially.

This year, DIS will be a virtual conference and the workshops participants are not required to register or pay a participation fee.