How can we build socially more sustainable AI services?

What was done

Since 2020, Alice Labs has collaborated in a nonprofit research project on selected AI-powered consumer services.

During the project, we have studied voice assistants and streaming services in the context of home and leisure use. We have identified common situations where these services currently repeatedly fail to respond to users’ expectations. Based on this understanding, general-level design recommendations have been developed.

The research project focusing on selected AI-powered consumer services, is a collaboration between Alice Labs and the Centre for Consumer Society Research, University of Helsinki in partnership with Reaktor (a Finnish technology company with expertise on existing AI solutions).

In 2020, the research and collaboration included

  • Conducting qualitative interviews online with respondents from the USA, China, and Finland
  • Elaborating and developing the research findings in collaboration with data scientists, designers, and industry experts

Key insight

In order to create more value, AI-powered consumer systems ought to be more capable of providing users with a different degree of agency and different ways of interaction. Currently, AI-powered systems often “force” users to intervene in algorithmic decision-making when they would want to be passive or make them passive when they would want to guide or collaborate with the system.


A public report on some of the first-year findings was published in 2021. The work continues in 2021, and the goal of Alice Labs in the project is to drive impact by working in close cooperation with industry experts to develop recommendations for designing socially sustainable AI-powered systems and encouraging public discussion.


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