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Appropriate Magic



A user wants to be awed, wowed, and amazed by a piece of software. Sidetracking to explain its workings can disrupt the flow of the experience and spoil the fun.

A screenshot of a conversational interaction with the "WoeBot"
The "WoeBot" encourages the user to think of it as human-like, to encourage a more natural, personal rapport, without diving into detail about how the AI that supports that persona works.


When appropriate, the system should obfuscate the underlying algorithm and instead use playful language to suggest that the system is more than just a math machine— it's magical! 


This (obviously) is contrary to all other patterns around user education and transparency and so should be handled with care. That said, whatever we're designing we should be making deliberate choices about the presentation layer of an AI app. Even if the UI does little to try and steer the user toward a certain conceptual framework, the user builds a mental model regardless, which may be very different to the designer's intent. Whether it's transparent, magical, or otherwise, designers should see the opportunity to take the initiative in facilitating this mental model and not leave it to chance.