Alexis Lloyd uses pop culture to think about three models for human-machine collaboration
- Machine as servant or butler (C3P0): well-meaning, but prone to misunderstanding context (especially social cues). Exists for delegation of lower-order tasks. Provides what is asked but fundamentally a failed and dissatisfying model; limited by the imagination of whomever it services. (AKA anthropomorphic model)
- Machine as prosthesis (Iron Man): the machine augments human capabilities. Often begins as a way to replace a lost human capability but then repurposed to extend capabilities.
- Machine as collaborator (R2D2): the machine collaborates with human capabilities. The machine has its own agency and language and is capable of learning and decision-making. They complement rather than supplement or augment human capabilities; while they may follow orders from humans, they may also override those directives in pursuit of a higher priority goal. May serve as more of a companion (in the Donna Haraway sense) and coexistent species rather than as a second-rate human.
- Skeuoumorphic models limit possibilities for innovation - Skeuomorphic designs constrain our imagination
- Machines act as they are programmed to act - If we design or machines to act as servants, they probably will do what we expect.
Lloyd, Alexis. “R2D2 as a Model for AI Collaboration.” Medium (blog), November 21, 2020. https://alexis.medium.com/r2d2-as-a-model-for-ai-collaboration-9a2638bfbd09.