Is the Rise of AI Good, or Bad, for UX Research?

Let's not be naive: technology isn't agnostic

Like any new technology, AI is going to substantially impact all of the fields of the touches.

But to talk about this intelligently, we need to distinguish between different types of AI, and think deeply about what they are fundamentally capable of.

That’s difficult to do, because at this point we don’t actually know what AI is capable of, nor do we fully understand why the capabilities it does seem to exhibit, exist. 

The best example I can think to explain this phenomenon was provided in a recent article by Simon Willison, who posited:

...about 3 years ago, aliens landed on Earth. They handed over a USB stick and then disappeared. Since then we’ve been poking the thing they gave us with a stick, trying to figure out what it does and how it works.

As example of this note that some of the most interesting behaviors of large language models in particular were only discovered years after those models were released to the public.

This probably outlines the way in which AI is going to impact UX research the most substantially. If we, as researchers, are worth our salt, we’ll quickly dive into exploring how users interact with AI, because doing so will put us at the forefront of understanding how AI in general, and large language models in particular, work, and what they can do.

In that way, and I will be a boon to UX research in the way all new technologies are: it will give us much to study and learn about, particularly in the context of how its capabilities impact other fields.

And if past technologies are any guide to the future, there will be lots of really shitty implementations that need diagnosing and fixing.

The future looks promising.

Get Articles Like This Delivered To Your Inbox, if the Bots Allow It