What is a cultural probe? A culture probe is a technique used to inspire ideas in a design process. It is a way to gather data about peoples thoughts (employing packaged / artifacts) and get responses from people to understand their culture better. The latest project we did in our studio class focused on ML Cultural Probes. The purpose of the ML Cultural Probe was to gather the hopes and fears of a range of adults around the topic of AI.
In groups, we designed a culture probe. My group developed one around the idea of AI shoes. We asked a series of questions and had mad libs all focused around AI in shoes. Some of the results we found through the probe was that they wanted shoes to be waterproof and if the shoes had AI, they still wanted to have a means of turning it off manually if it malfunctioned. Most of our participants were either exited or skeptical about the idea of AI shoes, however, AI, in general, they are more fearful of – for instance – how it will change the culture as a whole or will AI turn evil on us or used for bad instead of the good.
Your mind will wander when you begin to consider the hopes and fears of AI and the potential that it is bringing to our culture. AI is brilliant and powerful – and it doesn’t even have a conscious (yet).