Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies have enabled companies to completely reimagine how processes are executed behind the scenes. In recent years, AI has come front and center and developed into advanced cognitive solutions like Amelia, which can completely automate the user experience (UX). This emerging functionality has created a need for a new type of corporate role responsible for shaping the interactions between human and machine.

At IPsoft, the responsibility for crafting these human-machine interactions falls to a dedicated team of Conversational Experience Designers like Chicago-based Michelle Gaseor. We spoke with Michelle about the process of designing these interactions as part of our ongoing series, “The Real Women Behind Amelia,” in which we profile IPsoft’s outstanding colleagues helping to define the future of technology. In this wide-ranging interview we talk about her process for creating interactions, her career path and the importance of failing, learning and improving on the way to achieving success.

How would you explain your role?

I help clients and internal product teams strategically select the best roles/skills to develop for Amelia, and then I craft the Amelia experiences from there. This includes everything from planning how the UI should look to creating a unified content strategy for dialogue. Depending on my assignment, I might be actively doing design work or I can serve in more of a consulting capacity to help clients build their own conversational experiences.

How do you go about designing an interaction with Amelia? What type of things do you consider?

I always start by thinking about the user — knowing who you are designing for and how they will be interacting with Amelia is critical.  From there, typically I design in layers, where I think about the structure of an interaction, the language, any design elements, how the conversation will be triggered, and how an individual interaction might fit into the overall experience.

Have you found anything surprising about how different audiences react to interacting with Amelia?

If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that users will always do things that you don’t expect, even when you base your design decisions on research. Usability testing is key to catching some of these reactions early.

Technology is all about failing and iterating to make things better. I think we’ll see more women in STEM when girls are taught to embrace the process of failing, learning and improving instead of trying to make things perfect out of gate.

What jobs did you have before IPsoft?

I started my professional life studying to become a history professor before pivoting into fiction publishing. I transitioned into product development/content strategy for educational technology when I realized how much I enjoy creating great experiences for high-complexity technologies.

What type of things would you like Amelia to do in the future?

As a conversational designer, I’m always looking for more tools/capabilities that allow me to train Amelia on the nuances of natural conversation, both in terms of helping her respond to users and teaching her to understand users. But I really find that a lot of the most interesting experiences I design involve integrations with other technologies or platforms. I look forward to getting Amelia even more integrations.

How do you explain to non-tech friends and family what you do?

I tell them that I teach an AI like Siri and Alexa how to do specific roles and carry out specific skills.

What brought you to IPsoft?

I was working on algorithmically driven educational content, which showed me how to use technology to create a customized yet cohesive educational experiences. From that, I learned how much I enjoyed the challenge of working with emerging technologies, which is ultimately what brought me to work on AI at IPsoft.

What do you like best about working at IPsoft?

Digging into the technology. I like having exposure to all the nuances of how Amelia works. It allows me to partner more closely with the engineers and delivery managers to create results. Seeing great design in practice is rewarding.

How can we get more women in STEM?

Technology is all about failing and iterating to make things better. I think we’ll see more women in STEM when girls are taught to embrace the process of failing, learning and improving instead of trying to make things perfect out of gate. I see fear of failure as a big cultural factor that keeps more women from entering STEM fields.


Five Fast Fun Facts

What is your favorite depiction of AI from science fiction?

David from Steven Spielberg’s A.I.

Name a technology you’ve recently come in contact with that made you think, “Wow, I’m really living in the future.”

CRISPR (Gene Editing).

Name a notable real-life scientist/engineer/innovator whose contributions inspired you.

Hedy Lamarr.

A thing your co-workers would be surprised to learn about you.

I write science fiction in my free time.

Your last meal would be?

All the gluten-filled pastries I could get my hands on!