Design Talk 74. Jennifer Sukis, Director of Design for AI Transformation, IBM

Jennifer Sukis returns to the podcast to discuss changes in her own role at the intersection of artificial intelligence and design, as well as IBM’s growing focus on this area for its big enterprise clients. The chat with MEX founder Marek Pawlowski ranges from approaches to user research when designing AI-powered systems, how AI may influence future education requirements for designers and striking the right balance when surfacing the wealth of additional data AI can make available to users. If you listen right to the end, there’s also a challenge for you, based on a creative exercise Jennifer references during the conversation.

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On this edition

AI has a capacity to exclude people. The solution is inclusivity from the start: how much diversity of knowledge & beliefs can we get on our teams? Jennifer Sukis, Director of Design for AI Transformation, IBM Episode 74, MEX Design Talk podcast


  • Jennifer’s previous conversation with Marek in episode 43 of MEX Design Talk, which goes into more of her professional background and gives a snapshot of what was happening at the intersection of AI and user-centred design in January 2018.
  • IBM Watson, part of Jennifer’s work on AI at IBM.
  • IBM Cognos, mentioned by Jennifer as an example of how AI is being applied to building analytics and dashboards for enterprises.
  • The ‘5 Whys’ exercise, mentioned by Jennifer as an example of how the flexible nature of AI-led design is causing her teams to look for deeper motivations rather than more immediate needs in their approach to user research.
  • Future of Organizational Creativity in 2035 (PDF), a report by W. Clayton Bunyard, mentioned by Jennifer in the context of how the skills needed to design with AI may be changing.
  • An article by Google Deepmind on techniques it’s using to reduce energy usage across its data centres, mentioned by Jennifer in reference to ‘green AI’.
  • Taylor Swift’s Folklore album and the Netflix series Dark, mentioned by Jennifer as examples of people searching for historical comparisons during the pandemic.
  • Uncanny Japan podcast, mentioned by Marek as an example of seeking present day lessons from myth.
  • A Washington Post article on how Nintendo has seen interest in gaming surge during the pandemic, mentioned by Marek in reference to how people have adapted their search for meaning to the virtual world.
  • Samar Hechaimé talking to Marek Pawlowski about positive lessons to be learned from the pandemic during this May 2020 edition of MEX Live.
  • The challenge:
    • Choose a piece of work you’ve completed recently.
    • Use a random method to select another industry, product, service or person.
    • Spend some time exploring unexpected relationships between the piece of work you chose and the random thing you selected.
    • Document and share what you found by email to

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The '5 whys exercise' is top of my list for understanding users. It gets to some very base fundamental values we're trying to achieve. Jennifer Sukis, Director of Design for AI Transformation, IBM Episode 74, MEX Design Talk podcast

About MEX Design Talk & how to get in touch

The podcast for the MEX community, interviewing UX pioneers, exploring emerging technologies, user behaviour and how to design better digital experiences.


  • Jukedeck, for the artificial intelligence engine which provided the music

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