Can Machines have Experiences? (May 2009)

 

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Robots are invading our lives. The robotic revolution has begun without many of us noticing. Where there were just a few computers around just a few decades ago, today there are more microprocessors in the world than people. Even if it appears to be a steady and linear trend in technological development in fact statistics show a progress that is accelerating explosively with an exponential growth begging for our attention. World leading practitioners within A.I. research imagine that in the coming years, the number of robots could also exceed the number of people. Ray Kurzweil predicts that future machines will exceed human capabilities in the next 20 years, exceeding human complexity including our emotional intelligence, and be capable of emotional and spiritual experiences.(1) This statement should not go unnoticed - Experience Designers will be expected to take a role in helping to develop experiences for robots.

 

Scientists and engineers have made relentless progress in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Development. Their predictions for the next 20 years are as bold as they can be. Driven by both, technological optimism and concern, this research community is envisioning and inacting a future when artificial beings will enter and transform our lives in ways we can't yet imagine. The space for the designer and other practitioners within the creative disciplines to make valuable contributions has been to a large extent been left unexplored. This condition leaves the contemporary designer outside of the discourse and therefore unprepared for tomorrow's complex design challenges. My thesis as an Experience Designer is that we have to account for the experiences of robots if we wish to play a role in the design of some of the most significant experiences in our future.