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A Future of Self-Created Adaptive Experiences

We are living in the most technologically advanced period in human history. A tiny computer in your pocket can grant you access to all the knowledge in the world,  connect you to family thousands of miles away, and turn your lights on when you don’t want to get off the couch. But despite these incredible powers, that tiny pocket computer is, in fact, incredibly limited. The last few decades of rapid technological change and advancement will pale in comparison to what’s coming. Advancing capabilities in automation and AI will take us beyond anything we’ve ever experienced, creating a future built on—and built by—Adaptive User Interfaces.

We rely on technology to accomplish so much of what we need to get done in modern life, but to date, technology has been based around one-and-done experiences, designed to serve us in a single moment in time. Moreover, technology has created experiences that serve only about 80% of the population, those who fit a specific idea of what “normal” is. This needs to change.

Creating a sub-standard experience—one that excludes people who fall entirely outside the dominant 80% and fails to serve the 80% as well as it should—is not long for this world. We can—and must—do better.

We need to move from one-off experiences towards an ongoing, adaptive, customized experience not for everyone, but for every one. This requires us to move into a new framework for thinking about how we create, how we work with the tools that help us in creation, and what it even means to be creating when we change the dynamics of human-machine interaction.

I often refer to the millions of moments that make up brand experiences—good moments, bad moments, moments where the eyes of the world are on you, and moments where only one person can see what you’re doing—because I truly believe this will be the major differentiator for businesses in the next decade.

How can your business cope with a new world where you’re always on?

The winners will be those who can not just optimize the core experiences but start to home in on and optimize the edge cases and the fringe experiences too. They also must orchestrate the journeys their customers go on beyond the parlor trick of personalization. Businesses that can meet the needs of individuals in the contexts and circumstances of that moment will find ongoing success.

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Those that can’t will be left out in the cold.Adaptive experiences

Adaptive experiences—experiences that have the ability to self-learn, self-heal, and self-generate—are the only systems that will be able to adapt fast enough for our rapidly shifting world and do so in a way that includes (by design) the full spectrum of experiences. They’ll evolve with us, and we’ll evolve with them. When we embrace this mode of creation, we’ll move the dial faster on issues that matter and create more inclusive experiences for all.

It won’t be easy to build these experiences— entropy, uncertainty, and technical limitations all need to be overcome. But we are at a critical juncture now, where laying the foundation for this future state needs to happen. Data models exist for this, and right now is when we need to be creating the data stories.

My upcoming talk at SXSW delves into how to approach the work here and now to prepare for a future of Automated Interfaces. First and foremost, we need to fundamentally change how we view our roles as designers and creators. Data will be at the heart of this work, and everyone will need data as a core skill set.

Right now, we have scores of people with highly specialized skills capable of creating almost any single experience when they have access to the right tools in front of them. What needs to happen is a fundamental shift in approach. We need to build up the skills that enable us to create the conditions for success without direct intervention, not the skills that demand hands-on application all the time.

Adaptive UI is still a nascent field at present; there’s no denying that.

We can’t know exactly how it will evolve or on exactly what timeline, but we do know some things. We know artificial intelligence will play a big role, though AI itself still has a lot of evolving to do. And we know that Adaptive UI will also demand a new vision of what it means to be creating experiences. Now is the time to lay the foundation for this new mode of operating because we know this is coming, no matter what.

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