Axel Platz – Context is King


Whereas AI used to be regarded as a rival activity to human efforts, there is recognition these days that AI can help to raise interaction between humans and machines to another level, one of genuine cooperation. While the archetypal use of tools, for example using a hammer, sees humans as the sole repository of intelligence and control, and the tool merely as the means by which work is done, a level has now been reached where machines and systems are able to recognize and understand users so well that they can step up and perform work independently and without being asked. Not in the sense of a genie that has been let out of the bottle, but in terms of the users and in keeping with the specific context and situation. The leitmotif here is that of the digital companion. This may sound simpler than it really is and technology does not automatically constitute the solution. Context sensitivity is a noble concept, but the context itself is not simply an objective circumstance; experiencing it is profoundly subjective. The user, the one that stands for all users, thus ceases to exist: one size does not fit all.
The presentation will discuss those challenges facing human-machine relationships and illustrate concepts beyond chatting devices.


Axel Platz is Principal for User Experience Design in the Siemens AG corporate research division in Munich. After studying communication design and art history, he worked for 10 years in Siemens’ central design department before moving over to research. His design work has received distinctions including the iF Award.
His main research interests are firstly the future of work and thereby the interplay between humans and technology when humans work with technical artifacts, and secondly visual studies.