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Can We Design Machines to Be More Humane?

Paul Pangaro
Chair and Associate Professor, MFA Interaction Design, College for Creative Studies


Newell-Simon Hall 1305 (Michael Mauldin Auditorium)

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Billions of people use digital machines every day and we are all subject to their qualities. Who would question a quality that allows a digital network to transform text into a connection to everyone we love? Or to transform keywords into a vast volume of rich content?


Designers and engineers strive every day to make such systems more powerful in terms of scope and depth. But are they humane? What does ‘humane’ even mean? As a start, how might we remove the stubborn opacity of the logic of digital machines?


From a design perspective, framing interactions as conversations creates opportunities to make machines more ethical and more humane. The speaker will offer examples of conversational frameworks across the domains of search, systems, services, and organizations.

Speaker's Bio

Paul Pangaro’s career spans research, consulting, startups, and education. He relocated to Detroit in 2015 to become Chair of the MFA Interaction Design at the College for Creative Studies. He has taught systems and cybernetics for design at School for Visual Arts, New York, and at Stanford University in Terry Winograd’s Human-Computer Interface program. His most recent startup is General Cybernetics, dedicated to new ways of reading and writing in digital media based on Gordon Pask’s Conversation Theory. He has worked with and within startups in New York and Silicon Valley, in product and technology roles. His consulting clients include Du Pont, Nokia, Samsung, Instituto Itaú Cultural (São Paulo), Ogilvy & Mather, Intellectual Ventures, and He has lectured in São Paulo, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Linz, and in cities in the US. His writing explicates “designing for conversation” from his research and his implementations of software and organizational processes. He was awarded a B.S. in Computer Science/Humanities from MIT and was hired by Nicholas Negroponte onto the research staff of the MIT Architecture Machine Group, which morphed into the MIT Media Lab. 

Speaker's Website

Karen Berntsen