Thoughts on How to Speak Machine

How to Speak MachinePicked up John Maeda’s How to Speak Machine: Computational Thinking for the Rest of Us and read through it pretty quickly, but I’m not sure it was a worthwhile read for me and I don’t think I’d recommend it for anyone already familiar with modern software design.

Maeda spends the majority of the book’s 200 pages explaining the basics and extolling the value of UX research, product design, agile delivery, and iterative development and comparatively little on the actual premise of the book.

Both Amazon and Maeda frame the book as a way for designers to understand “the complex world of AI and machine learning”, but while it hints at AI’s transformative potential these mentions are more speculative than practical. There really isn’t any actionable insights or detailed explorations of how AI can concretely impact design work today.

Some parts that I did take some value on were in the last couple of chapters where the book touches some good takeaways on how to insert humanist principles into AI solutions and the need for designers to focus on inclusivity as this is an area AI models struggle greatly.

Overall, “How to Speak Machine” has some solid info but just feels more targeted at people out there designing chairs and completely unfamiliar with UX rather than a book for experienced designers looking to prepare for the changes AI is bringing to their industry.

If you’re interested, I’ve also shared a selection of my key highlights from the book as well.