detach ourselves from this fantastic
tool. The tool cannot bring value until
we find the right problems.
THE NEW ELECTRICITY
“AI is the new electricity,” says
Andrew Ng, former chief scientist
of Baidu. “Electricity transformed
countless industries. AI will now do
I first fell in love with AI several
years ago when I was studying
psychology in college. I was attracted
by humans’ ability to develop artificial
intelligence. But how can we bring
the value of technologies such as AI to
everyone? If normal people like you
and me cannot enjoy the value of a
technology in our daily lives, what is
the technology for?
Products are one of the most
important carriers of technology, but
transforming technology into products
is as hard as developing the technology
itself. That is why I am here—to find
the right problem and design an AI-enabled product in the right way.
ON THE JOURNEY
Our product team’s mission is to
innovate and incubate AI-enabled
products. As the solo designer, I am
responsible for all the design work as
well as the product strategy. On March
14, 2016, the journey began. Four
months later, on July 15, we released
our first product, the Talk Type voice
keyboard (Figure 1). At the end of
February 2017, Talk Type downloads
exceeded 100k. In the middle of March
2017, we released SwiftScribe, an AI-enabled transcription service (http://
swiftscribe.ai/). Meanwhile, we are
exploring and testing more product
ideas. We tried and failed, again and
again. The great feedback from users
makes everything worthwhile. Lessons,
tons of lessons, are being learned on this
journey. Here are some of them.
I say this word AI in a low voice, but
you still hear it clearly.
AI?! Do you mean artificial
This is what makes me nervous.
THE SO-CALLED AI DESIGNER
I am cool in a lot of ways, but not in the
ways you’re thinking. I do not consider
myself to be an AI designer. What
exactly is an AI designer? “A designer
who designs AI products,” you answer.
What is an AI product? Isn’t it an
artificial intelligence product? What is
The truth is that I am a normal
designer. I design products you are
familiar with, such as mobile and
Web apps. My daily life is the same
as yours—brainstorming, sketching,
pushing pixels, or talking all day
nonstop for a user study. Do you still
think I am cool?
Even if my job is cool, I do not enjoy
any privileges. Everyone is born to
serve, either themselves or others. We
designers are here to solve problems
and make people’s lives better. The
only difference between you and me
is the problems we are solving. Most
of the time, the problem is the same:
There aren’t many truly new problems.
We focus on one aspect of the problem
and use different techniques to solve it,
or a small piece of it.
MYSTERIOUS AI PRODUCTS
What is AI? In my view, AI enables the
augmentation of human intelligence.
Products that utilize AI technology
can be only AI-enabled products. A
product is a solution for solving human
problems. AI is not the solution; AI
itself cannot be a product.
If AI were the core, we would
become too attached to it. We would
ignore the mission—solving human
problems. Every technology is a tool
but not the problem. As creators, we
need to focus on the problem and
There is a key difference between
product thinking and design thinking:
The former focuses more on the design
of the problem while the latter focuses
more on the design of the solution.
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