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Conceptualizing the Relationship between AI Explanations and User Agency

Iyadunni Adenuga, Jonathan Dodge

We grapple with the question: How, for whom and why should explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) aim to support the user goal of agency? In particular, we analyze the relationship between agency and explanations through a user-centric lens through case studies and thought experiments. We find that explanation serves as one of several possible first steps for agency by allowing the user convert forethought to outcome in a more effective manner in future interactions. Also, we observe that XAI systems might better cater to laypersons, particularly "tinkerers", when combining explanations and user control, so they can make meaningful changes.

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