Embedding intelligence

Designerly reflections on AI-infused products


Davide Spallazzo (ed)
Martina Sciannamè (ed)


Artificial intelligence is more-or-less covertly entering our lives and houses, embedded into products and services that are acquiring novel roles and agency on users.
Products such as virtual assistants represent the first wave of materialization of artificial intelligence in the domestic realm and beyond. They are new interlocutors in an emerging redefined relationship between humans and computers. They are agents, with miscommunicated or unclear properties, performing actions to reach human-set goals.
They embed capabilities that industrial products never had. They can learn users’ preferences and accordingly adapt their responses, but they are also powerful means to shape people’s behavior and build new practices and habits. Nevertheless, the way these products are used is not fully exploiting their potential, and frequently they entail poor user experiences, relegating their role to gadgets or toys.
Furthermore, AI-infused products need vast amounts of personal data to work accurately, and the gathering and processing of this data are often obscure to end-users. As well, how, whether, and when it is preferable to implement AI in products and services is still an open debate. This condition raises critical ethical issues about their usage and may dramatically impact users’ trust and, ultimately, the quality of user experience.
The design discipline and the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) field are just beginning to explore the wicked relationship between Design and AI, looking for a definition of its borders, still blurred and ever-changing. The  book approaches this issue from a human-centered standpoint, proposing designerly reflections on AI-infused products. It addresses one main guiding question: what are the design implications of embedding intelligence into everyday objects?


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Author Biographies

Davide Spallazzo

Ph.D. in Design and Associate Professor at the Department of Design of Politecnico di Milano. Active in Interaction Design and Human- Computer Interaction, his main research interest is the human-centred approach to digital innovation and meaning-making, applied to diverse fields of inquiry. Over the years, he coordinated and took part in several national and international research projects concerning digital technologies in the Cultural Heritage field, serious gaming, and AI. He is now coordinating the Meet-AI research project, aimed at creating a new UX assessment method for AI-infused products. He is deputy coordinator of the Ph.D. program in Design and secretary of the MSc in Digital & Interaction Design.

Martina Sciannamè

Ph.D. student in Design at Politecnico di Milano. She investigates how AI and ML can be meaningfully included in Design education with a multidisciplinary approach. Her aim is to produce theoretical knowledge and practical tools to enable designers to exploit the opportunities offered by this technology and to communicate with ML experts, being aware of its actual capabilities and limitations. Her hope is that the intersection of Design and ML, within the frame of Ethics, will finally steer the development of ML systems towards real-world problems and responsible innovation for the flourishing of humans.


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settembre 6, 2022

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