Teaching: Global AI Interfaces 🗺️

Across the globe, AI is being used to decide who to prosecute and incarcerate, who to fire, or who can access quality medical care. However, most AI has been designed for the US and Europe. There has rarely been a consideration of how such intelligent systems could harm outside populations by promoting racism, ableism, or sexism.

This course will help you to be aware of the impacts of AI for international audiences, and learn how you can design AI interfaces for different parts of the globe. You will be empowered to create AI that is equitable, accountable, mitigates biases globally, and helps to create vibrant societies internationally.

Lectures include:
  • Concepts about culture and cultural models, and how those can influence design decisions in creating intelligent interfaces.
  • Practical knowledge on how to design and program AI based interfaces for different cultures
  • An overview and functional understanding of the different types of intelligent interfaces that exist, and deep understanding of where and how these intelligent interfaces can critically harm particular cultures.

Course Objectives.

Upon completion of this course, you will:
  • Have Foundational Knowledge about how culture and culture models can influence the design of intelligent interfaces.​
  • Be aware of the role that history and tradition can play in designing intelligent interfaces.​
  • Understand how particular intelligent interfaces can bring harms and conflicts to particular cultures.​
  • Understand the role that international policies and geopolicies play in deciding the type of intelligent interfaces to design.
  • Be able to discuss and analyze the impact culture has on a given intelligent interface.​
  • Be able to identify how certain intelligent interfaces can promote racism, ableism, sexism, and be overall problematic for certain cultures.​
  • Discuss solutions to address cultural conflicts when designing intelligent interfaces.​


Global UX: Design and Research in a Connected World by Whitney Quesenbery and Daniel Szuc, Morgan Kaufmann, 2012
We will also have readings from research papers and relevant news media articles.


25% Writing Reflections (approximately once a week)
25% Mini Class Projects
10% Quizzes
15% In-Class Discussion
25% Final Research Project

Want to teach this class at your own university? Please reuse my slides and assignments. I'd love to hear from you about how my course material is working out and how I could improve them. Please email me!

Week 1: Introduction to International UX.

Readings covered in class: Global UX, Chap. 1, The Start of the Journey Bohannan, Shakespeare in the Bush Rothman, The Meaning of “Culture”
Slides:Week 1: Introduction to International UX.
Assignment: 1-page summary of who you are 📕:
Include information about:
  • Your cultural and linguistic background.
  • Background in intelligent user interfaces.​
  • A bit of what you know or have done with artificial intelligence.
  • What you're looking to get out of class.

Week 2-3: Culture and UX:

Readings that will be discussed in class: Slides:Weeks 2-3:Culture and UX

Writing Assignments: reflection on Hofstefe's Cultural Dimension and Current Global Events 📕:
  1. Reflection on Hofstefe's Cultural Dimension. The first blog post should be a reflection on Hofstefe's cultural dimension.​ Write up a recap of Hofstede’s cultural dimension. ​What aspect of his model do you agree with?​ What aspects do you disagree with? ​Explain. 2 pages, single-spaced

Mini Design Assignment: Designing an Intelligent Assistant for Latin America 🤖:
Imagine you have been charged with designing an intelligent assistant for Mexico's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help the government deliver better services to citizens. Example of the services the virtual assistant could help with:​
  • Help citizens get their passport.​
  • Help refugees apply for visas to Mexico.
Create a blog post that:
  1. Describes what cultural dimensions/elements are relevant for the design of your virtual assistant.​
  2. Explains what interface design features would your virtual assistant have to help the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to attract and help citizens? ​Relate your design decisions to some of the culture theories we have seen in class.
  3. Provides a diagram and brief description of your virtual assistant (1 paragraph).​ You can use mockups or Story boards. The goal is to communicate your idea. You are free to select the end-users with whom your virtual assistant would interact.
The blog post is 2 pages, single-spaced.
Related Links:
  • Official Site of Mexico's Ministry of Foreign Affairs: https://www.gob.mx/sre
  • Related Wikipedia Articles:​https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secretariat_of_Foreign_Affairs_(Mexico)

Week 4-5: UX, Culture Theory, and AI:

This weeks class focuses on teaching you about AI and helping to connect AI with UX and culture theory.
After the classess of this week, you should be able to:​ ​
  • Describe the Standard Machine Learning Pattern​
  • Determine where the Standard Pattern fails and how certain harms can emerge based on people's culture
  • Describe often Overlooked Factors that impact the Standard Pattern​, especially when connected to culture
  • Define common Terminology used in talking about Machine Learning Performance​
  • Justify where iteration is most important in machine learning​, especially when thinking about culture

  • Start to understand:​
    • How you can create machine learning models and AI interfaces for different regions in the world​.
    • The fundamental technical problems in Human-AI interaction, and why it is especially difficult within global settings.
Slides: Week 4-5: UX, Culture Theory, and AI

Reading and Writing Assignments: Understanding AI Design for the Global South and Underrepresented Communities 📕:
  1. Understanding ICTD: Paper
  2. Social Justice and Design: Paper
  3. Poverty and Technology: Paper
For each reading provide:
  1. Key insights of reading (2-4 lines): 15 points
  2. How you envision the reading could help your UX designs (2-4 lines): 15 points.
Each reading is worth 30 points, adding 90 points total. At the end of the assignment write in 1-2 sentences what you enjoyed the most of the readings: this is worth 10 points. The assignment is thus worth a total of 100 points. Please note that your submission might get selected for discussion in class. Please be prepared to possibly have to present to the group during class time.

This week we will also have a quiz. Come prepared!