Hi. I'm Jeff. I am interested in how humans use computers, and the interfaces between them.
I have been working in this area for about 30 years, prior to the general availability of the World Wide Web. Since those early days, I have worked as an interface designer, graphic artist, illustrator, web developer, software engineer, and user experience designer.
Much of this work has revolved around the Web, though this is not by any means my sole interest. For the last several years I have been working in the machine learning / AI space.
One question I have been asking since I become involved with AI is, "What is the user interface for AI?". With the advent of Large Language Models, this question has become even more critical.
In a world of Generative AI, how will humans interact with systems that become more and more inscrutable? How do we design systems that produce good outcomes when the underlying system is largely non-deterministic? These are the questions on my mind lately.
Oh, I also like music a lot.
What you see happening on this page started out as a doodle, initially inspired by abstract works by artists such as Richard Diebenkorn. The doodle evolved over time into a kind of grid, dancing in my mind between the abstract and the concrete.
I became curious if I could write an algorithm to generate variants on the design. Something perhaps similar to cellular automata, but turned on its head. Instead of writing an algorithm to see what it would produce, I started with an idea of what I wanted the end product to look like, and crafted my algorithm to produce something akin to that. That idea evolved in to what you see creating and destroying itself here. With some relatively simple rules for generating the design, and then deconstructing it, the system will endlessly explore these ideas of abstraction. You can see the code here.
What I find fascinating here is how our minds will look at this random arrangement of rectangles and inevitably attempt to identify it, to classify it. Is it a landscape? An aerial view of farmland? A slice of metamorphic schist? What I find interesting is that what our minds do here seems to be similar to the behavior of neural nets. Does this mean that these algorithms are getting closer to the way our own minds process information and perceive the world? I don't really know. But it is an interesting question.