A vision of future daily life is explored in Ambient Intelligence (AmI). It follows the assumption that information technology should disappear into our environment to bring humans an easy and entertaining life. The mental, physical, and methodical invisibility of artificial intelligent tools and environments will have an effect on the relation between the activities of both, users and designers. The infiltration of reality with sensing, computing, transmitting and acting hardware will cause the construction of new meanings on interaction in general because the “visible” acting of people will be preceded, accompanied and followed by the invisible and visible acting of artificial intelligent tools and environments and their providers. Sociability in such an interaction world stretches between the feelings of “being in security” and “being in control”. Invisibility management could enable situated veiling and unveiling. Critical Transformative Rooms, where human and artificial actors can negotiate about the change of meanings, are the approach to deal with the users’ emotions of frozenness, despair, fear, doubt and trust.
“This is because proceedings are generally kept secret not only from the public but also from the accused.”-- Franz Kafka, The Trial
2.1. Ambient Intelligence, the
Key Terms in this Chapter
Critical Transformative Room: In a Critical Transformative Room two or more actors mutually interact about fear, doubt, change, truth and any other emotionality and sociability within an application frame. A Critical Transformative Room creates a space where the preferred interpretation of the actions of the artificial actors can be negotiated by the human actors. In a Critical Transformative Room doubt can occur as a constructive strategy and can be effective in a change of the acting itself. Creating such a room requires actors who already have a habit of causing doubt and who accept that truth always is situated.
Invisibility and Visibility: The term “invisible” includes anything, what humans cannot or can only partly cognize using their senses: hearing, seeing, touching, smelling and tasting. Making invisible is “veiling”, making visible is “unveiling”. The visibility of artificial actors is limited within the technical constraints of their construction. But their invisibility is unlimited.
Methodological Invisibility: Methodological invisibility on the users’ side is caused by the designers closing almost any options for “post-design by user”. Designers focus on security, non-ambiguity and are afraid of the complex and the unpredictable in the user world. By the use of expert speak, syntax-level programming languages, and mathematically over-abstracted methods within a closed interaction world of “we-can makers”, the dominance of design over use is established. Methodological invisibility on the designers’ side occurs, when these ICT professionals are frequently not designing, but using established methods and theories without appropriate doubt.
Ambient Intelligence: ISTAG 1999 states, “Ambient Intelligence should be the result of the convergence of three key technologies: ‘Ubiquitous Computing’, ‘Ubiquitous Communication’, and ‘Intelligent User-Friendly Interfaces’. AmI is unobtrusive and often invisible, being embedded in everyday objects such as furniture, clothes, vehicles, roads and smart materials. Interaction is relaxing and enjoyable for the citizen, and does not involve a steep learning curve; otherwise stated, the dominant mode of interaction will become laid-back rather than lean-forward. The technology is all around us but almost invisible: it is everywhere and yet in our consciousness is nowhere unless we need it. The resulting landscape is embedded, personalized, adaptive, and anticipatory. People will be surrounded by intelligent and intuitive interfaces recognizing and responding to the presence of individuals. AmI is presponsive instead of being simply responsive.”
Physical Invisibility: Physical invisibility of sensing, computing, transmitting and acting hardware is driven by two trends. One is the continued process of miniaturization - down to nanotechnological intelligent dust. The other is global wireless Internet access which allows such devices to be included in almost any object of everyday life.
Emotional and social: Artificial intelligent tools and environments do not have emotions, they simulate emotionality. User emotions connected with the diverse invisibilities of artificial intelligent tools and environments are “frozenness” and “despair” (see Figure 1: Critical Transformative Room “Use–Design”). “Doubt” and “trust” are the basic emotions for sociability. Making a user feel “in-security” and “in-control” at the same time, is impossible. Users might express their emotions in “situated ratings” to give feedback to artificial products and their designers.
Mental Invisibility: Artificial products are mental invisible if they are taken for granted, when they are thought of as a natural part of daily life. Their evident and continuous availability causes their disappearance in the complexity of our environment. Humans integrate the ready-made technological acting in their routine acting and accept it without reflection and emotions. Mental invisibility can be seen as precondition for the acceptance, the stabilization of use, and the domestication of technology, but it should not be the frozen final-state of human actors.