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text 2019-05-22 15:18
Can User Interfaces be Replaced by AI-Based Agents?

Many businesses today struggle with staying on top of innovation and increasing revenue. The customer experience and overall behavior add a layer that places greater focus on UX/UI designs to create the level of user-friendliness needed for sustained customer retention, engagement and brand promotion.

 

Design tools that are algorithm-driven assist with constructing a UI as well as prepare content and the overall personalization of the user experience. Does this mean that Artificial Intelligence will replace user interfaces?

 

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INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY

 

The fact is, UX and AI are basically commingled in the new design era. It is a widely held belief that AI will inevitably replace designers that the intrinsic need for human-driven UX. According to Futurist Thomas Frey, “2 billion jobs will disappear by 2030, and robots will probably take over a portion of jobs which are now occupied by humans.” By using AI in UI design, the overall productivity of designers will increase via the training of robots to conduct tasks such as color scheme adjustment and resizing, which gives designers the ability to focus on more complex UI design elements.

 

IMPROVED DESIGN SYSTEMS

 

By utilizing AI in UI design, overall designer productivity will be increased as robots can be trained to perform specific design elements that will essentially allow designers to place their focus on strategic and complicated UI design elements. When machines automate these repetitive tasks, human creativity is increased along with elements such as automation, the creation of more effective functions within modular design systems and personalized system.

 

OPTIMIZATION AND SPEED

 

Artificial intelligence focuses primarily on increasing speed and optimization. Using AI, designers can create designs more efficiently while harnessing the ability to analyze high volumes of data, allowing the ability of the designer to focus on more effective testing and prototype creation. Companies such as Airbnb actively uses AI to generate production-ready design components derived from manual wireframe sketches.

 

Cont. Reading… https://is.gd/aoFKpc

 

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review 2018-09-29 09:19
. It was hard to be a woman in the Regency period and Austen knew it all too well! A must read for Austen lovers.
Rational Creatures - Christina Boyd

I thank Christina Boyd for sending me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review and for offering me to the opportunity to join the blog tour for its launch.

I have read and reviewed one of the Austen based collections Christina Boyd has edited in the past (Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues, check that review here), and when she told me what she was working on, I did not hesitate. I have met many talented writers through her collection and the books she has edited and have to warn any readers that you are likely to end up with a long list of authors added to your favourites if you keep on reading.

I am sure no Austen reader would think that, but some people not so well versed in her work sometimes think that her novels are only about silly girls of the Regency period, normally of good families, flirting and forever plotting to marry a rich and attractive man, with nothing of interest in their heads other than attending parties and fashionable balls, and not a hint of independent thought or opinion. Nothing further from the truth. The title of the collection highlights the status of Jane Austen’s female characters. There are nice women, some cruel ones, vain, prejudiced, stubborn, naïve, impulsive, but they are not the playthings of men. They work hard to prove they are “rational creatures” and they try, within the options open to them at the time, to take charge of their lives and their own destinies.

In the foreword, Devoney Looser writes:

In its pages, the best of today’s Austen-inspired authors use their significant creative powers to explore new angles of love and loss, captivity and emancipation. These stories reimagine both, beloved female characters, like Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet, and loathed ones, such as Persuasion’s Penelope Clay. The results are comical, disturbing, and moving.

I could not have said it better. While when I reviewed Dangerous to Know I said anybody could enjoy the stories but connoisseurs of Austen would likely delight in them, in this case, I think this is a book for Austen fans, and those particularly interested in feminism and in the early supporters of the education of women. Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman is mentioned in the foreword and also makes its appearance in some of the stories, and it clearly informs the readings the authors make of the characters and the novels they pay homage to. In a matter of fact, the book could also have been called A Vindication of Austen’s Women.

While some of the contributions are short stories in their own right, although centred on one of Austen’s female characters, some are vignettes closely linked to one of her novels, showing the background to some events in the story, or exploring the reasons for the decisions taken by some of the female characters that might have surprised us when we have read the novels, particularly so, perhaps, due to our modern sensibilities. Each story is introduced by a quotation from the novel in question that helps us get into the right frame of mind.

The catalogue of stories and characters is long and inclusive. We have: “Self-Composed” (by Christina Morland) about Elinor Dashwood, “Every Past Affliction” (by Nicole Clarkston) about Marianne Dashwood, “Happiness in Marriage” (by Amy D’Orazio) about Elizabeth Bennet (one of the most famous and well-known heroines in the Austen canon and I think most readers will easily identify with the character and her plight), “Charlotte’s Comfort” (by Joana Starnes) about Charlotte Lucas (I will confess I’d always wondered about Charlotte’s decision to marry the horrendous Mr. Collins. I enjoyed this version of events and it makes perfect sense), “Knightley Discourses” (by Anngela Schroeder) about Emma Woodhouse (it was a pleasure to catch up with Emma again, a happily married Emma, here), “The Simple Things” (by J. Marie Croft) about Hetty Bates (perhaps because I’ve never been married, I am always drawn towards characters who remain single, and I found this episode particularly touching), “In Good Hands” (by Caitlin Williams) about Harriet Smith (it was good to see Harriet get her own voice and not only be Emma’s plaything), “The Meaning of Wife” (by Brooke West) about Fanny Price (I liked this rendering of Fanny Price as she gets enlightened thanks to Wollstonecraft’s Vindication), “What Strange Creatures” (by Jenetta James) about Mary Crawford (which introduces a touch of mystery), “An Unnatural Beginning” (by Elizabeth Adams) about Anne Elliot (another one I found particularly touching), “Where the Sky Touches the Sea” (by Karalynne Mackrory) about Sophia Croft (this is not a character I was very familiar with but I loved her relationship with her husband, her self-sufficiency, and the realistic depiction of grief), “The Art of Pleasing” (by Lona Manning) about Penelope Clay (as a lover of books about cons and conmen, I could not help but enjoy this fun story full of twists and fantastically deceitful characters), “Louisa by the Sea” (by Beau North) about Louisa Musgrove, “The Strength of Their Attachment” (by Sophia Rose) about Catherine Morland, “A Nominal Mistress” (by Karen M. Cox) about Eleanor Tilney (a fun story with its sad moments, and a good example of the type of situations women could find themselves in at the time), and “The Edification of Lady Susan” (by Jessie Lewis) about Lady Susan Vernon (an epistolary story that I thoroughly enjoyed, and another one recommended to people who love deceit and con games).

The writing styles vary between the stories, but there are no actualisations or reinventions. The stories are all set within the Regency period, and the authors observe the mores and customs of the period, seamlessly weaving their vignettes and stories that would be perfectly at eas within the pages of the Austen novels they are inspired by. The characters might push the boundaries of gender and social classes but never by behaving in anachronistic ways, and if anything, reading this book will make us more aware of what life was like for women of different ages and different social situations in that historical period. What we get are close insights into the thoughts and feelings of these women, many of whom were only talked about but never given their own voices in the original novels. It is amazing how well the selection works, as sometimes we can read about the same characters from different perspectives (the protagonist in one of the stories might be a secondary character in another one, and the heroine in one of the stories might be a villain in the next), but they all fit together and help create a multifaceted portrait of these women and of what it meant to be a woman of a certain class in the Regency period.

I have said before that I feel this collection will suit better readers who are familiar with Austen’s universe, but, to be fair, I have enjoyed both, the stories centred on novels I knew quite well, and those based on characters I was not very familiar with, so I would not discourage people who enjoy Regency period novels and have read some Austen, but are not experts, from reading this book. By the time I finished the book, I admired, even more, the genius of Austen and had decided to become better acquainted with all of her novels. Oh, and of course, determined also to keep sharing the collections and books by this talented group of writers.

In summary, I recommend this book to anybody who loves Austen and has always felt curious about her female characters, protagonists and supporting players alike, and wished to have a private conversation with them, or at least be privy to the thoughts they kept under wraps. If you want to know who these women are and to see what it must have been like to try to be a woman and a rational creature with your own ideas in such historical era, I recommend this collection. As a bonus, you’ll discover a selection of great authors, and you’ll feel compelled to go back and read all of Austen’s novels. You’ve got nothing to lose other than a bit (or a lot) of sleep!

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review 2018-07-01 01:12
A Rational Arrangement by L. Rowyn
A Rational Arrangement - L. Rowyn

Nikola Striker, the Lord of Fireholt, is being pressured by his parents to marry. They have settled on Wisteria Vasilver for him. The match would probably save his family from financial ruin, but Nik really doesn't want to marry, and Wisteria's looks aren't to his taste in any case. Her personality, though... After Wisteria inadvertently offends his parents, Nik finds himself thinking about her more than he expected. Her tone and facial expression are impossible to read, but her words are refreshingly direct and honest. Shockingly so, sometimes. Nik can't stop thinking about her scandalous marriage contract, which not only covers how many "marital encounters" she expects them to have, but also, intriguingly, indicates that she'd be fine with infidelity as long as all parties are kept informed and behave discreetly.

Nik has been in a secret relationship with Lord Justin Comfrey for years. He cherishes their time together, a welcome break from his duties as one of the Blessed, those who are able to use the Savior's power to help others. Even so, he and Justin don't always have a good handle on each other. Although Nik still doesn't want to marry Wisteria, he finds himself talking with her more and more freely, and wishing he could tell her his biggest secrets.

Wow, writing my own summary for this book was...not easy. Since it may not be that clear in either my summary or the author's, this is a poly romance. The story takes ages to get to that point - for a while it looks like a complicated love triangle involving Wisteria and Nik, Nik and Justin, and eventually Wisteria and Justin.

I bought this because it sounded like it would focus on character relationships rather than on how often and in how many ways the characters could have sex. When I first started reading it, I thought it was delightful. Wisteria and Nik's conversations were fun, and Wisteria's marriage contract sketched out a way for the romance to happen without anyone having to cheat on anyone else, or so I thought.

Unfortunately, this still managed to have cheating in it. Wisteria married one of the men and found out about their relationship not because her husband told her, but because she found them about to have sex (or actually in the process of having sex? I can't remember and don't care to hunt the scene down). Luckily for them, she'd been having fantasies about them having sex together and thought this discovery was hot. I guess the marriage contract didn't matter that much. They soon invited her to have a threesome with them, she was delighted to accept, and the book wrapped up in a way that left everyone happy.

On the whole, the romance in this just didn't work for me. I'd have been on board with Wisteria and Nik, or even Wisteria and Justin, although Justin didn't seem like the marrying type. Nik and Justin were, however, an absolutely awful couple. Justin frequently inadvertently hurt Nik and Nik didn't seem to be comfortable with talking to him about it. Whenever he did try to talk about it, Justin didn't understand. Justin also lost a lot of points with me after his horrible behavior towards one of the riding cats (large, talking, intelligent cats that the humans in this world hire for riding and other purposes, since there don't seem to be any horses). And his behavior right after

Nik tried to break things off with him

(spoiler show)

was an insult to both Nik and Wisteria, even though he didn't take things as far as he could have.

In the end, despite what the author clearly wanted readers to think, Justin came off looking like the guy Wisteria and Nik wanted to have around for sex. His relationship with Wisteria was a little better than his relationship with Nik, but by the time I got to the book's "happy" ending I just wanted him out of their lives, for all their sakes.

In general, A Rational Arrangement was a lot longer than it needed to be. I feel like this would have been a much better and more focused work (and maybe more obviously a poly romance, rather than a love triangle) if the author had cut out maybe 200 pages. As it was, it took ages for Wisteria and Justin to meet, and the storyline involving the little girl, Sharone, went on for so long that it started to feel like pointless filler.

I was also very unhappy with the way the book's tone drastically shifted a little over halfway through. The bulk of the book was regency-ish dances, parties, and conversations (and an occasional explicit sex scene involving Nik and Justin). Then, suddenly, there was a very graphically violent scene in which one of the three main characters was tortured - which, by the way, happened at about the same time that the other two characters went off to make out and strip each other naked. The way the aftermath was handled bugged me as well. It felt like the character's PTSD was just a plot device designed to move things forward in the proper way. Once it had accomplished what it was supposed to, it was magically done away with (literal magical healing) and never really brought up again.

Unfortunately, this wasn't nearly as good as I'd hoped it would be. If I continue on with this series, it'll be because I bought the sequel when it first came out. In my defense, it was on sale and I really did think I was going to love these characters and this world. At least the next work in the series is a collection of novellas rather than yet another badly bloated novel.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2018-06-08 12:40
Reading progress update: I've read 495 out of 537 pages.
A Rational Arrangement - L. Rowyn

Wisteria's contract was really clear about this. She or Nik could have sex outside of marriage if they wished, but they needed to keep each other informed.

This scene that just happened is adultery. It's a good thing for all the characters that the author doesn't want them to be unhappy with each other, so of course Wisteria's reaction is just "No, this is okay, it's just like in my fantasies!"

(spoiler show)
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text 2018-06-07 12:28
Reading progress update: I've read 437 out of 537 pages.
A Rational Arrangement - L. Rowyn

Still 100 pages to go, but I'm getting there. Proposals have finally been made, and one has been accepted, with a bit of lamenting that she can't accept both. Since the author has been telegraphing ways that things could work out for hundreds of pages, I already have a good idea of how the second man is going to end up part of this relationship.

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