Optimizing for User Experience

Roger Peng

I’ve previously written about how business (that are built by humans) can initially become successful by optimizing the user experience. That great user experience is what defines the value that their product provides. However, over time, companies have to find a way to provide value that is defined outside of the business-user relationship. The difficulty here is that this new definition of value is not within the control of the company–it is defined by the community via laws.

The same is true for artificial intelligence. Ina Fried, writing for Axios Tech about artificial intelligence:

It also matters what the algorithms are optimizing for. Airbnb, in general, is looking to train its algorithms to learn what factors are most likely to lead to a positive experience for guests when they make their reservation. However, a customer with a racial bias, for example, may be more satisfied when they see only white hosts. But to further Airbnb’s goal of an open, non-discriminatory platform, the company has to both recognize this issue, choose to prioritize non-discrimination, and then program accordingly.

Companies like Airbnb have to choose to prioritize non-discrimination. As of yet, the machines will not do it for them.