(Un)making AI Magic: A Design Taxonomy

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This paper examines the role that enchantment plays in the design of AI things by constructing a taxonomy of design approaches that increase or decrease the perception of magic and enchantment. We start from the design discourse surrounding recent developments in AI technologies, highlighting specific interaction qualities such as algorithmic uncertainties and errors and articulating relations to the rhetoric of magic and supernatural thinking. Through analyzing and reflecting upon 52 students’ design projects from two editions of a Masters course in design and AI, we identify seven design principles and unpack the effects of each in terms of enchantment and disenchantment. We conclude by articulating ways in which this taxonomy can be approached and appropriated by design/HCI practitioners, especially to support exploration and reflexivity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI '24
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
EditorsFlorian Floyd Mueller, Penny Kyburz, Julie R. Williamson, Corina Sas, Max L. Wilson, Phoebe Toups Dugas, Irina Shklovski
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)979-8-4007-0330-0
Publication statusPublished - 2024
Event2024 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Sytems, CHI 2024 - Hybrid, Honolulu, United States
Duration: 11 May 202416 May 2024


Conference2024 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Sytems, CHI 2024
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityHybrid, Honolulu


  • artificial intelligence
  • critical computing
  • critical design
  • magic
  • research through design


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