We propose intuitiveness as a property of machine learning algorithms, largely impacting how easy it is for users to interact with a given algorithm without any explicit instruction or training.
Machine learning is a double-edged sword: it gives rise to astonishing results in automated systems, but at the cost of tremendously large data requirements. This makes many successful algorithms from machine learning unsuitable for human-machine interaction, where the machine must learn from a small number of training samples that can be provided by a user within a reasonable time frame. Fortunately, the user can tailor the training data they create to be as useful as possible, severely limiting its necessary size – as long as they know about the machine’s requirements and limitations. Of course, acquiring this knowledge can in turn be cumbersome and costly. This raises the question how easy machine learning algorithms are to interact with. In this work we address this issue by analyzing the intuitiveness of certain algorithms when they are actively taught by users. After developing a theoretical framework of intuitiveness as a property of algorithms, we present and discuss the results of a large-scale user study into the performance and teaching strategies of 800 users interacting with prominent machine learning algorithms. Via this extensive examination we offer a systematic method to judge the efficacy of human-machine interactions and thus, to scrutinize how accessible, understandable, and fair, a system is.