Sonder Scheme

Sonder | son-der | noun: The profound feeling of realizing that everyone, including strangers passed in the street, has a life as complex as one’s own, which they are constantly living despite one’s personal lack of awareness of it.

Scheme | skēm | noun: A systemic or organized configuration.

Why human-centered AI

After years of studying AI and automation companies—successes as well as failures—and the future of work, we are convinced that AI can be done better and faster. For AI experts through to people who have not yet used AI, by involving a diverse set of voices from across the organization and by using design techniques customized to AI, companies can create great, human-centered AI.

We created Sonder Scheme to help people develop AI for humans. Our techniques are founded on years of research about AI. We are convinced that the role of humans in AI design is fundamental. This role has been subsumed by technological optimism; it is under-appreciated and under-utilized. The interaction between AI and humans starts at the creation of data, includes the selection and understanding of algorithms and requires a new way of developing interfaces. People need to have experiences that tell them that the machine is learning and adjusting all the time to what they say and do.

AI is another intelligence and this intelligence is quite alien. AI makes mistakes in unpredictable ways and develops its understanding across dimensions we can’t fathom. But we can design AI that works with our nature, our biases and our preferences.

For strategy and innovation managers, this means directing a whole new scheme of possibilities—thinking in systems, solving old problems in new ways, creating new opportunities for revenue, cost and risk reduction and rethinking the dynamics of digital markets.

For product designers and marketers, this offers the opportunity to re-architect relationships, recognize the mutual interactions of machine and human and designing for (not against) the mental models that shape customers’ behavior and expectations.

For human resource professionals and leaders, this means designing for a future of work where humans and machines collaborate—where machines augment, rather than replace—humans in their work and humans do what they do best—make sense of the world.

Our goal is to help people make better AI; AI that serves people, augments our relationships and uses this powerful technology well to advance our species.

Who we are

Sonder Scheme was created by Helen and Dave Edwards, founders of—a research company that explored how humans and machines will work together in the age of AI. After the company’s acquisition by Quartz, Dave and Helen led the publication’s AI information platform before returning to the hands-on work of helping people and enterprises craft the future of work through AI.

Helen has spent her career at the edges of chaos; where technological innovation collides head-on with traditional ways of doing things. She’s been described as being able to see new relationships and counter-intuitive outcomes; to “link the un-linkable.” Her past experience includes being CIO of Transpower, New Zealand’s national grid, head of emerging products at Pacific Gas and Electric and head of corporate venturing for Meridian Energy.

Dave is a trend-spotter, analyst and storyteller. He has spent his career distilling and advancing big technology trends like the internet, cleantech and AI. His brain is split in two with half dedicated to creatively designing consumer experiences while the other half has an uncanny ability to find the right metric to measure and build upon. His past experience includes being head of software application marketing at Apple, head of consumer strategy at SunPower and a lead technology research analyst at Morgan Stanley. 

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