Presented By O’Reilly and Intel AI
Put AI to work
Sep 4-5, 2018: Training
Sep 5-7, 2018: Tutorials & Conference
San Francisco, CA

Forming meaningful relationships between human and machine

Adam Cutler (IBM Design)
1:45pm-2:25pm Thursday, September 6, 2018
Secondary topics:  Interfaces and UX

Who is this presentation for?

  • Designers, CxOs, executives, directors, and developers

Prerequisite knowledge

  • A basic understanding of AI's potential

What you'll learn

  • Understand the underlying structure of relationships and how this can be applied to AI
  • Learn the basis for crafting believable machine conversations and our collective responsibility to each other and society as we truly begin to bring AI to life


Artificial intelligence is a mystery and a wonder. It can help us solve humanity’s most difficult problems, but it is also vastly misunderstood by most people. Some consider AI a magical black box with the intelligence of a PhD. It knows all about everything; you just bring your problems and, voilà, your problems are solved. For others, fears of AI uprisings, loss of human control and Terminator-like scenarios cloud their capability to understand the present utility of cognitive computing.

When looking for ways to apply cutting-edge technological revolutions, AI not only dazzles but can blind as well. The more buzz and hype, the greater the pressure becomes to quickly create something using whatever new capabilities are presented to us. The benefit of moments like this is the opportunity to discover, experiment, and learn. 

We humans will form relationships with just about anything, from our pets to our cars and our phones. AI provides machines the ability to understand, reason, learn, and interact, creating the building blocks for forming meaningful relationships with machines—machines that can hold a conversation, interpret nonverbal cues, and draw from vast stores of human knowledge. Here at the dawn of the cognitive era, we must focus our design talents upon this new type relationship. But as we move past text fields and submit buttons, what does it mean to design for relationships instead of UIs? And what should these relationships look like?

Adam Cutler explains why designing for AI requires new considerations and new rules and reminds us that when we find ourselves in such unfamiliar territory, the best way to begin is by remembering the true purpose for any innovation: to improve the quality of human life.

Photo of Adam Cutler

Adam Cutler

IBM Design

Adam Cutler is a founding member of IBM Design and one of the first three distinguished designers at the company. He was responsible for the design and build out of the flagship IBM Design Studio in Austin, TX, as well as for the competency, culture, and practices of design and designers at IBM. This includes IBM design thinking, the IBM design language, and IBM design research. Adam’s mission at IBM is driving development of the company’s point of view on the practice of AI design. He recently gave a TED talk on creating meaningful human-machine relationships. Previously, he was the director of user experience design at IBM Interactive Experience, where he led internal initiatives and helped to guide clients—including OPENPediatrics for Boston Children’s Hospital, Nordea, the JFK Museum and Library, Liberty Mutual, Bank of America, Nationwide, Wachovia, L.L.Bean, State Street, American Express, IBM, Segway, Chubb Insurance, and Tiffany & Co.—in the creation of valuable, dynamic, and effective user experiences. Prior to joining IBM, Adam worked with Michael Jordan while at an advertising agency in Chicago and helped to pioneer the first ecommerce transaction from outer space.