Empathy actually means something despite its buzzworthy accolades but not what you think it means. — Photo Credit Aaron Blanco (Unsplash.com)

Type in “empathy,” into a search engine and you get more than 117 million results. That’s a lot, no matter who is counting. But after years of being in the enterprise world of technology I am pretty sure that a lot of those results are due to folks bastardizing the Design Thinking methodology.

I could write volumes about the many distortions that corporate America is doing to the methodology that is Design Thinking. I mean entire series have been written about why Design Thinking actually doesn’t work.

And as much as I am prone to innovation; I am joining the…

I think Jackie Deshannon was right, love is what the world of AI needs right now. Picture by Priscilla DuPreez, Unplash.com

I’ve been in design give or take on and off for more than 20 years. Design has always been my background to my storytelling foreground a way to willfully widen the narrative of the world to include people like me; those often on the periphery and in the margins.

For the last five years, I’ve been immersed wholly in AI design and striving to make it ethically sound and less harmful. After learning and experimenting with some of the brightest designers, data scientists and researchers in the world I’m now focused on sharing what I’ve learned.

I’ve written, talked, presented

When George Floyd was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis, the world changed — AGAIN. It shifted just like when Tayvon Martin was gunned down by a person who claimed to be protecting his community but was really a non-hero in the making. And then Eric Gardner whispered “I can’t breathe,” because he was being choked to death for absolutely no reason. Because a minor infraction of the law is worth a death sentence.

And when Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, the world shifted slightly, and again when Sandra Bland, went from a traffic stop to a tragic…

Photo Credit: Ian Frome, Unsplash.com

“I don’t use Facebook anymore,” she said. “They broke democracy.”

I was leading a usability session for the design of a new mobile app when she stunned me with that statement. It was a few years back, when I was a design research lead at IDEO and we were working on a service design project for a telecommunications company.

The design concept we were showing her had a simultaneously innocuous and yet ubiquitous feature — the ability to log in using Facebook.

But the young woman, older than 20, less than 40, balked at that feature and went on to…

AI Pioneer Stuart Russell, in this seminal TED Talk, postulates a philosophical yet pragmatic framework for how to build intelligent systems to be better than us. Russell, who has literally written the book on AI design, advocates for building systems that are:



and maximize human values

The first two are interesting, but the “last law of AI,” spurs a mind-blowing discussion.

For if we built intelligent systems to replicate us we definitely will have failed and sealed our fate to that dystopian future displayed in tech-gone-wrong-novels like Brave New World.

But if we break free of all that…

Don Norman was right— human-centered design is harmful.

Thirteen years ago the king of modern interaction design wrote a purely provocative piece calling into question the sacred tenet of the design empire he created. In the now infamous article for the Association for Computing Machines “Human-Centered Design Considered Harmful,” he put a pitchfork in the budding design movement of the early 2000s when he wrote that human-centered design was problematic because…

“… first, the focus upon humans detracts from support for the activities themselves; second, too much attention to the needs of the users can lead to a lack of…

In 2014, MIT created the Moral Machine. It’s a webpage that showcases various ethical scenarios a self-driving car will never encounter. It asks people to decide what the car should do in each scenario. The scenarios involve moral choices such as deciding whether to hit one pedestrian and avoid hitting a group of people or plow into a group of street children to avoid hitting someone. People writing in Nature recently turned this AI allegory into a “study,” by analyzing the results of bored people on the Internet judging the car’s decisions.

From MIT’s “Moral Machine,” webpage

Each time I see this study shared, written…

This post was originally published on LinkedIn on June 14, 2018.

Picture Credit to Andy Kelly, Unsplash.com

There’s a scene in Cixin Liu’s “The Dark Forest,” the second book of his “Three Body Problem,” trilogy I find particularly disturbing. It’s right after…wait.

Before I go on, I’m going to give you folks who have yet to read this amazing and wonderful sci-fi book from China’s most popular sci-fi writer, the opportunity to go to Amazon.com right now and buy it. Because you’re gonna want to read it. It will change your thinking about the future of humanity in ways that are both unexpected and uncomfortable.


This post was published originally on LinkedIn on May 30, 2018

As a design research lead who works on any number of data-driven projects I’ve been thinking a lot about the ethical concerns surrounding “Big Data.”

Though based in math and statistics, data-driven models are anything but impervious to the bias, prejudice and downright malevolent nature of humans. Whether these unethical values are passed on to the mathematical models by their creators or a function of their use (or abuse) math with no point of view doesn’t exist in the world of Big Data. Because behind every data point, every…

Not often do you see the moment when a man looks in the mirror and doesn’t like who he sees.

In this case the man is famed journalist Gay Talese and the mirror is his subject Gerald Foos and the moment was captured during the new documentary called Voyeur.

There are so many meta levels to this new non-fiction film by Myles Kane and Josh Koury. The two filmmakers hit the documentary jackpot managing to capture for all of us a tale of journalism, sex, lies and all of it on videotape.

Superficially, Voyeur is a simple story. A famous…


Principal Design Director, Design Research Lead @IDEO, Karaoke specialist, cold-water swim enthusiast, 3x Ironman — yep that’s me! Living life like it's golden.

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