What Is the Role of an AI Designer?

How AI designers are bridging the gap between user needs and technological capabilities.

Designing AI Prototypes

When an AI tech team needs a prototype, demo, or visualization of their technology, they work with a product designer. AI designers make sure that people see what’s possible with AI. We create prototypes showing how a particular technical capability might be used by people when the AI is working well. As an example, we might create a demo of AI suggesting a possible caption for your Instagram post, or AI helping you know where to buy a pair of shoes you see in a post.

Shaping New Technology

AI designers can also work as an embedded part of a technology team, shaping new technology. AI designers work on long-term areas of investment like computer vision, speech, language, video, and AI assistant initiatives. These project teams are developing new AI capabilities (rather than working with existing AI capabilities). The work you do as a designer on a technology team blurs the lines between design, PM and research. You are working to ensure that developer teams understand user needs relating to a particular type of technology and are building the technology to directly solve those needs. You are imagining user experiences that might be seen by users in 3–5 years, and would take significant improvement in AI technology to achieve. AI designers go deep in understanding the long-term vision for AI in their area of focus.

Developing AI Centered Products

Another project an AI designer might work on is to design new AI centered applications, testing them for viability, and (if promising) pitching them for further investment. The time horizon for projects in this space are farther out, so you are working in a world where you imagine people living life 5–10 years from now. You are thinking about how AI can offer better socially powered services to people longer-term. The products you build might be the Facebook or Instagram of the future, or might be a totally new way of engaging with your community.

Collecting Data for AI to Learn

One of the most important parts of shaping AI technology is giving AI the right data to learn. AI designers work with the engineers who build tools for this data collection and annotation, and design the platforms that enable it, to streamline efficiency and make it intuitive to collect good quality data. In some cases designers help gather datasets when more automated methods won’t work.

Designing AI Developer Tools

Designers on the AI team also build applications used by AI engineers, as well as the external developer community through open-source projects. Product designers on this team are building specialized developer applications, ensuring that we are creating a set of tools that work well as a system. Designers in this space need to have a deep understanding of the AI development process and a passion for empowering engineers across the globe. They often have a strong background in engineering or systems thinking.



Director of Product Design at Facebook, previously Head of Design & Brand at Asana.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Amanda Linden

Director of Product Design at Facebook, previously Head of Design & Brand at Asana.