Pia Scharf

Learning systems and the user interface


The user interface is undergoing a dramatic change. Thanks to Industry 4.0 and owing to a universal networking of digital equipment designers are influencing the control of technical functions in technoid devices.

The classical interface that Peter Sloterdijk more recently understood as the “make-up” of machines – make-up because overly complex functions are reduced until the user has the feeling of being in charge (Peter Sloterdijk, “Der Welt über die Straße helfen”) is now a matter of debate. After all, technological developments have advanced far beyond the point where user input is necessary at all, even though this is down to a sophisticated simplification. From this point interfaces no longer function as an input box into which you make your entries line by line, gesture by gesture. Classic interfaces are giving way to technoid counterparts with new abilities to anticipate entries, set in motion automatic interaction chains and anticipate users’ decisions. Using artificial intelligent learning behaviours (or deep learning) (decision) structures will be formed that entail fundamental changes for interface design.

The new design task given the autonomously operating counterpart lies not so much in designing the interface as some ping-pong game played by the user making his entries, the processing of the device or subsequent display on its surface. Rather it is a matter of designing characteristics through which the technoid counterpart – in interplay with the user – reveals itself. After all, if the learning system processes on a continuous basis, then the interface can no longer be sequentially conceived. Where now in classic interface design a differentiation between display and control results from interplay with the user, in the future users and technoid counterpart will in principle operate simultaneously, in the final version even synchronously; in other words they will operate autonomously yet be perfectly attuned to one another –  providing we consider a best version of ‘deeper learning’ as possible in the foreseeable future. The consequence for the interface: it is no longer a needle’s eye through which communication from the bits & bytes-world is translated into the carbon world (and back). As the processes in the technoid counterpart run continuously and the user experiences his world continuously the interfaces will in future be assigned a completely new role. They will then serve less for the exchange of information and rather offer a means of sensitively comparing process chains. What is conceivable would be something similar to the ‘prestabilised harmony’ of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, in which “the soul [follows] its own laws, as does the body;” (Gottfried W. Leibniz, “Monadologie”), namely two fundamentally different entities that are attuned to one another so that they intermesh like the metaphorical clock movement. User and technoid counterpart do not pervade each other but are rather in a situation in which they stand next to each other as equals: It is not for nothing that “side by side” is the maxim for an industrial culture 4.0.



Prof. Dr. Martin Gessmann

Prof. Dr. Klaus Klemp

Prof. Frank G. Zebner