AI: First New UI Paradigm in 60 Years: Exploring the Shift in User Interaction


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 14, 2023

3 min read


AI: First New UI Paradigm in 60 Years: Exploring the Shift in User Interaction


The world of computing has witnessed significant transformations in user interface paradigms over the years. From the early days of batch processing to the command-based interactions and the dominance of graphical user interfaces (GUI), each paradigm has shaped the way we interact with computers. However, a new era is emerging with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), introducing the third user-interface paradigm in computing history.

The Evolution of User Interface Paradigms:

In 1945, the first UI paradigm, batch processing, emerged, where users provided a complete workflow to the computer without any back-and-forth interaction. The UI was a single point of contact, usually a batch of punched cards. This paradigm lacked real-time interaction and limited the user's control over the system.

Around 1964, the advent of time-sharing brought the second UI paradigm: command-based interaction. Users and computers took turns issuing commands, allowing users to reassess the situation and modify future commands. This paradigm brought a significant improvement in usability compared to batch processing.

The Dominance of Graphical User Interfaces (GUI):

The graphical user interface revolutionized the user experience when Apple introduced the Macintosh in 1984. GUIs provided a visual representation of files, folders, and applications, making computers more accessible to everyday users. GUIs dominated the UX world for nearly four decades.

Artificial Intelligence: The Next UI Paradigm:

However, AI systems, such as ChatGPT, are now paving the way for the third UI paradigm in computing history. AI introduces an interaction mechanism where users communicate what they want to achieve, rather than specifying how to do it. This shift in the locus of control reverses the traditional user-computer relationship.

Intent-Based Outcome Specification:

The third UI paradigm, represented by current generative AI, can be defined as intent-based outcome specification. Instead of telling the computer what to do, users express their desired outcome. This new paradigm allows AI systems to understand user intentions and provide tailored solutions.

The Role of Hybrid User Interface:

While AI introduces a new UI paradigm, it is important not to overlook the intuitive and essential aspects of user interaction found in GUIs. Clicking or tapping on a screen remains an integral part of the user experience. Therefore, it is likely that future AI systems will adopt a hybrid user interface, combining elements of both intent-based and command-based interfaces while incorporating GUI elements.

Enhancing Usability with AI:

Usability plays a crucial role in the adoption of any new technology. The current chat-based interaction style of AI systems can be challenging for users who struggle with articulating their problems in prose text. To overcome this limitation, AI developers must focus on improving the usability of AI tools. Just as Google revolutionized search by making it accessible to anyone, better usability of AI can become a significant competitive advantage.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Emphasize Usability: As AI continues to evolve, prioritize enhancing the usability of AI systems. Invest in research and development to create more intuitive interfaces that cater to a wide range of users, regardless of their level of articulation.
  • 2. Hybridize User Interfaces: Recognize the value of GUIs and incorporate them into future AI systems. A hybrid user interface that combines the strengths of intent-based and command-based interactions with familiar GUI elements can provide a seamless user experience.
  • 3. Enable Customization: Allow users to personalize their AI interactions based on their preferences. Offering customization options can enhance user satisfaction and ensure a more tailored and efficient experience.


The emergence of AI as the first new UI paradigm in 60 years marks a significant shift in user interaction. Intent-based outcome specification allows users to communicate what they want to achieve, while a hybrid user interface ensures the retention of intuitive GUI elements. By prioritizing usability and customization, AI developers can unlock the full potential of this new UI paradigm and shape a future where human-computer interaction is more intuitive and efficient than ever before.

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