“Who’s Afraid of Machine Learning” Cards

This semester I created a set of cards to help design students explore the potential functionality of machine learning, while considering the ethical implications of use. Both grads and undergrads used the cards to take on the role of ML in design practice. Instructions for using the deck, along with additional resources, can be found at the end of this post.

Reach out if you would like a set for your own classrooms.

If you are user-testing these cards, please fill out this survey to share your feedback.

These instructions explain how to use the card deck to respond to a design prompt. However, I encourage you to experiment to discover how the deck might best help you incorporate and/or reflect upon the use of predictive algorithms in your practice.

Workshop Instructions for ML Cards

  • Each group should have a deck of cards. Separate your cards into four piles (one color in each pile). Set aside the gray cards (Ethics) for now. Focus on the blue, red and green cards (Augment, Anticipate, Personalize) for this first round.
  • Pull a prompt from the provided options or begin with a prompt of your own. Once the first prompt is selected, draw a card from each of the three piles. Be sure to select whatever card appears on top of the pile. Don’t shift through them to select the best one.
  • Working together as a group respond to the prompt using the strategies on the three selected cards. Focus on one strategy at time initially and then begin to combine strategies. To use a card ask yourself: “How could your design [do whatever’s on the card] to respond to the prompt, i.e. meet a human need?”
  • Move through this exercise several times using new prompts. Then pick several of your strongest ideas.
  • Sketch out your ideas to explore each of the experiences or interfaces that you came up with.
  • Now return to the pile of gray cards (Ethics). Consider the questions posed on all 9 gray cards in relation to each of your sketches. Iterate/revise as appropriate.
  • Come back together as a larger group to discuss the results.

This card deck is part of my larger research project: a book entitled Big Data. Big Design. Why Designers Should Care about Machine Learning (Princeton Arch Press, 2021)

Three students sitting around a table placing ML cards in a piles and reading the content together.
small colorful cards with text fanned out on a table

Additional Resources

GREAT A.I. TOOLS

People’s Guide to AI zine: Wonderful downloadable zine by MOTHER CYBORG and MIMI ỌNỤỌHA

I Love Algorithms cards: Downloadable card set of useful algorithms for designs to know. Created by the Stanford d.school

GENERAL ML

Machine Learning for Designers by Patrick Hebron (book)

You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How Artificial Intelligence Works and Why It’s Making the World a Weirder Place by Janelle Shane (book)

Prediction Machines by Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, Avi Goldfarb (book)

Machine Learning: The New AI by Ethem Alpaydin (book)

Frontline: In the Age of AI (documentary)

The Great Hack (Netflix documentary)

CONVERSATIONAL INTERFACE

The Voice in the Machine by Roberto Pieraccini

Wired for Speech by Clifford Nass and Scott Brave

Conversational Design by Erica Hall

Designing Voice User Interfaces by Cathy Pearl

Designing for Conversation: List of articles by Paul Pangero

VoiceFlow (prototyping tool for voice interface)

DialogFlow (Google prototyping tool for text or voice based interface)