Episode 23 of The Informed Life podcast features an interview with Carol Smith. Carol is a user experience researcher at the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Her focus is artificial intelligence, and prior to joining Carnegie Mellon, she worked for Uber’s Advanced Technology Group and IBM Watson.

Our conversation focused on the benefits and limitations of AI technologies:

I do take many precautions with making sure that my information as protected as possible, but at the same time, I love using a lot of the tools out there. So I love using chatbot that I have in my home. I really love being able to just ask it to play NPR, or asking it to turn on some lights, or whatever it is. I really enjoy these types of tools, and I really like the idea that my email can add something to my calendar. That’s really helpful. It doesn’t always add it the way I want it to, and I’d like more control in that sense. But I find these tools to be so helpful in my day to day life. I’ve got kids, and I teach a class, and I work and got soccer games and a million things going on on any given day. I can’t imagine having this busy of a life without these tools helping me day-to-day.

That being said, I’m very cognizant of all of the danger that is potential with these systems and how much of my personal information is out there. I’m very protective of my kids’ information and trying to keep them off of these systems for as long as possible. So it’s a balance. It’s a constant balance where I’m constantly trying to determine, is this still the system I want to be using? Should I be perhaps moving to a different system? Should I be not using the system that I believe to be more harmful? Trying to determine how to manage all that is a constant decision-making and evaluation process, and for people who are less familiar with these tools, I’m sure it’s much more frightening and difficult.

Our discussion is a good primer on the current state of AI and its implications for our day-to-day information management. I also share one of my AI “tales of woe.”

Unfortunately there were some audio glitches on my side of the line, which I couldn’t fix in post. They go away halfway through the show, but may be a bit annoying early on. Apologies for that. I’m still trying to figure out podcasting; there are so many things to track!

In any case, I enjoyed my conversation with Carol. I hope you find it valuable.

The Informed Life Episode 23: Carol Smith on Artificial Intelligence