Product craft in the age of AI

Product craft in the age of AI
This post authored by Kraftful CEO Yana Welinder first appeared as a Mind the Product article on March 27, 2024.

Creating products is fundamental to our humanity. 

The ability to develop complex tools, art, and technology sets us apart from other species. This intrinsic drive to create—product craft—is what motivates the best product managers, designers, and engineers. 

With artificial intelligence now approaching human-like intelligence, it prompts us to reassess the role of human product builders. What tasks can we delegate to AI today, and why should we do so? More importantly, how should we adapt in a future where AI surpasses human reasoning?

Current state: AI-assisted product craft

AI today extends its capabilities to many tasks traditionally managed by product teams. Using tools such as my own product, Kraftful AI, product teams can now instantly analyze app reviews, call transcripts, survey data, support tickets, and volumes of other user feedback. This analysis yields prioritized lists of frequent feature requests, complete with mention counts and original context links. What used to take hundreds of hours can now be accomplished in minutes. Drawing an analogy from the famous Henry Ford story, a tool such as Kraftful AI quickly crunches all the user feedback to inform the human product builder that people are asking for faster horses, enabling the builder to realize that a car would better satisfy this need.

Inbound feedback often can’t answer all the questions. For deeper exploration, tools like Kraftful can also create surveys on various topics and based on previously collected user feedback, subsequently analyzing the responses to offer prioritized product insights. Just like with inbound feedback, the analysis includes direct links to user comments, serving a dual purpose: providing detailed context for better understanding user needs, and allowing product builders to oversee the AI's analytical process. This “human in the loop” approach ensures the AI's outputs are aligned with the product builder’s objectives, allowing for fine-tuning and teaching the AI to better mimic a product builder’s reasoning.

Once AI has surfaced insights, it can help product builders to act on those insights. In Kraftful, for example, this happens in a few different ways. First, insights are automatically categorized into projects, facilitating a streamlined roadmap organization. While AI suggests an initial structure, product builders have the flexibility to modify or create new projects beyond the insights based on user feedback. Within each project, AI can draft Product Requirement Documents (PRDs) and generate user stories with acceptance criteria, automatically creating a Linear or Jira ticket that can be assigned to the team.

While AI significantly reduces the time spent on tasks like reading, drafting, and identifying best practices for product documentation, the product builder always controls the prioritization for action. In other words, although AI handles much of the routine work, the essence of product craft remains fundamentally human. This time-saving aspect allows product builders to delve deeper into product craft in ways that weren’t possible before. In that sense, AI is bringing the golden age of product craft.

Future vision: Product craft in the age of AGI and superintelligence

I believe that humans will still build products for other humans in the future — even in a world where AI can reason better than humans. Dieter Rams would still have designed something like the iconic Braun T3 pocket radio, Jony Ive would have envisioned the iPhone, and Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom would have created Instagram even if we already had superintelligence.

The recent advancements in AI suggests that the emergence of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and superintelligence is on the horizon. AGI, with its capacity to understand, learn, and apply knowledge across a broad spectrum of tasks, mirrors human cognitive abilities. Unlike task-specific AI, AGI can adapt its understanding to various domains without needing targeted training. Superintelligence, on the other hand, refers to an advanced form of AI that exceeds human intelligence in all aspects, including creativity and problem-solving. The advent of such technologies presents potential risks and highlights the need for their alignment with human values to advance humanity.

Yet, even if AGI and superintelligence can be developed to bring prosperity to humans, the development raises the question about the human purpose in a world where we’re no longer the most intelligent. I believe that the inherent human desire to innovate will persist, driving us to create products that resonate with human experiences and emotions. This intrinsic motivation underpins our unique capacity for innovation and creation, aspects likely to remain indispensable despite AI's advancements. While many future products might be autonomously designed by AI, there will remain a significant demand for those crafted by humans (with assistance by Kraftful and other AI). 

While it’s difficult to predict how humans may evolve in this future, a good analogy from the past is the evolution of art in the age of photography. Before cameras, realism dominated the art scene. But photography’s rise didn’t extinguish the human desire to create art. Instead, it paved the way for new, abstract art forms that conveyed emotions differently. It shows how technological advancements can redefine, rather than replace, human creative expression.

The human joy of product craft is what excites me about developing tools for product builders. The drive to build and innovate is timeless, creating an opportunity for a symbiotic relationship between human creativity and AI.

Innovative teams use Kraftful to engage users & boost revenue.

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