Human civilization has lasted several thousand years. How might design theory help it last several thousand more? As artificial intelligence grows more powerful, we want to ensure a harmonious future.
Human values aren’t random — there are common factors that make us healthy and vital in a meaningful world. We need to ensure that powerful AI systems are constructed to align with our deep humanistic values.
When I came to Delft, I said that I had 2 intersecting goals:
Designing smart systems that could use data to optimize outcomes and
Understanding the right outcomes to optimize. In my thesis, I applied this to educational games — I showed how I could use AI algorithms to optimize time spent– but, how the optimization of time spent resulted in a game that had zero educational value. And thus, how we have to be careful about data-driven design.
Yet, assuming that AI systems and human systems will increasingly use metrics for system optimization (i.e., test scores, financial performance, number of likes, etc) there is a special need to develop valid metrics for what we actually value; we should “measure what we treasure.” When human values aren’t measured, they can be invisible to institutional systems. That’s why I care about improving the practical measurement of wellbeing in schools and in health care systems. Developing good measures can be seen as a mechanism for social change.