Citizens of Silopolis: Lena Hegemann

Lena is a designer and front-end developer at Silo.AI, focusing mainly on UX or UI design of the AI solutions we build for our clients. At Silo.AI Lena has been working with both internal R&D and as a designer in client projects. Typically her role in the project team has involved listening closely to the end users at the client side: 

“My goal as a designer is to be in touch with the end users and understand the experts who will actually use the AI system. I’m interested in the information that is crucial for them to see in their work”, Lena comments.

Lena also studies Human-Computer Interaction and Design at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. In January next year Lena will start her PhD program at Aalto University, during which she will focus on statistical models and intent modeling. She’s particularly interested in understanding the user’s previous knowledge, in other words trying to infer what they already know and what they are learning.

She’s currently working on her master’s thesis which also contributed to her third academic paper. In her research, Lena is looking at the interactive behaviour of a contextual bandit system used in a design ideation tool. During the ideation process the system suggests relevant material to inspire the designer. Lena’s work is concerned with explanations that tell why the suggestions are a good fit and help the designer reflect on the process.

AI projects from design perspective

Design is brought into the AI project at a very early stage to ensure the usability of the AI solution we are building for the client. As each project is different, a lot of customization is involved.

“We usually start with a general meeting about the requirements and then proceed to an ideation session together with the client’s experts. Sometimes it is helpful to let their experts draw the UI first, which I can use to guide my own design”, Lena says.

For Lena, designing AI tools is particularly interesting. She has a background in both machine learning and design, and hopes to connect these two even more during her career.

“As a designer I’m at the intersection of machine learning and design. AI provides fascinating novel ways for humans to communicate with machines. Due to the intelligent part of the system, the system has its own reasoning and ‘ideas’. These need to be communicated to the user, in addition to explaining how the AI got there. The tool also needs to take into account  what the user can understand.”

Learning loop enables new tools that learn from their users

In design, you usually need to try to understand what the user is up to, and try to cater to their needs. With machine learning and AI, it is possible to directly learn from the users, by including the user behaviour data and feedback into the data that feeds into the learning system. Understanding the feedback correctly is important, and poses new challenges for designers that need to think about the user’s interaction.

Machine learning is also able to understand the context in a way that has not been possible before: “You can model user intentions, try to figure out what they want to achieve or how they’re feeling, and use these probabilities as the basis of the software’s next steps. With machine learning we can reach new levels for things like personalization and adapting to the situation the user is in”, Lena goes on.

Clients are a source of inspiration

Lena is fascinated by people and different jobs that they do. It is usually up to Lena to keep the users’ interests in mind as the project goes on, and focus on building an AI solution that truly fits into the client’s workflow.

Multidisciplinary person with various interests

When not at work, Lena is active in very versatile things: trying out different kinds of sports to listening to and making music. She plays the violin in a symphonic orchestra and in Silo’s Band Noisy Labels. What comes to sports, she dances regularly but is also into seasonal sports, such as downhill skiing in the winter and cycling or paddling in the summer. Last summer she got into sailing too. 

Favorite Silo.AI value?

Keep learning. Learning motivates Lena inside and outside of work:
“I find it rewarding to have an Ah-ha moment when I understand something, be it a theory, a client’s reasoning or the data collected in a user study. I get excited when something starts working for me, like doing a new movement in a sport, playing a new musical piece or using a new framework or technology. It might be due to this motivation that I have become the multidisciplinary person I am” Lena says.

“I also like to see other people’s or teams’ growth and success. When I can be a part of such a growth story as a team member or mentor that makes me really happy and proud.”


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Pauliina Alanen
Former Head of Brand
Silo AI
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Pauliina Alanen

Former Head of Brand

Silo AI

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