In Conversation with

Mio Suzuki

Chat with Mio Suzuki, Director of Advanced Technologies at Trek Bicycle

Following CES 2024, Loft had the chance to reconnect with Mio Suzuki, Director of Advanced Technologies at Trek Bicycle, to follow up on a conversation thread that emerged during our collective attendance at the world's largest technology show.


Gregor Mittersinker

Mar 5, 2024





Mio Suzuki


Director of Advanced Technologies at Trek Bicycle

Following CES 2024, Loft had the chance to reconnect with Mio Suzuki, Director of Advanced Technologies at Trek Bicycle, to follow up on a conversation thread that emerged during our collective attendance at the world's largest technology show. Not only is Mio a specialist in aerodynamics and computational fluid dynamics, but she stands at the forefront of harnessing the power of AI to re-imagine mobility solutions – and the perfect person to discuss the major trends she saw emerging from the show. When asked, her response was "Designed by Software." The following is a Q&A session where Mio paints a larger perspective on the effects of a world effectively designed by software, i.e., data and AI.

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. . .

Loft: "Could you please explain the effects and underlying questions you see in a world where AI, in all of its applications, impacts nearly all human experiences?"

Mio Suzuki: "All of us, both personally and professionally, suddenly have access to many different applications of AI, with adoption and use growing exponentially. The output of these use applications will naturally create an excess of digital assets, meaning everything created and all the outputs. I've spent much time considering the intersection of rapidly expanding AI applications with the generation of digital assets and the potential convergence of our physical and digital (or "meta") worlds. How will these digital assets mesh with our real-world experiences? Potentially through augmented reality, virtual reality, or a digital twin of the individual. Tech companies will no doubt continue to support the narrative that blurring the lines will be how we want to experience the world. However, will we (humans) want the worlds to be combined, or will we want the separation? We may be in the "messy middle," but companies can find opportunities here to serve their customers better."

Loft: "If we acknowledge that we are in the "messy middle" of generative AI, given the natural complexities and challenges that arise as these AI systems become more advanced and widely used, what will that mean for companies and their customers?"

Mio Suzuki: "Generative AI is like a teenager right now—it has a basic level of competence but is still acquiring the depth and subtlety to operate in the larger world. It's important to remember that these "human-like" algorithms were originally "babies" learning to communicate. It’s just that they seem to mature at an exponential rate compared to humans.

The tech community is creating AI agents (specific sets of algorithms) that can provide familiar, human-like, expected interactions. However, the integration of AI into operations is not fully autonomous (yet), and human intervention is necessary to bridge the gap between current capabilities and future autonomy, especially when dealing with edge cases.

Consider customer service. Skeptics often ask if the machine will be good enough to answer the customer's questions. This is operationally short-sighted. Instead, when a bot is insufficient, the conversation can migrate smoothly to a human with all prior context. From the customer's point of view, it is simply a smooth, prioritized process. Just like trusted co-workers would naturally do it at work, humans and machines can make each other perform at their best and strive to provide unique and unparalleled hospitality that can be the business’ competitive edge. Conversational AI will improve the premium human experience (aka truly premium). Human intervention is the "last mile" in a premium experience. Today, only in a few instances are pure autonomous operations achievable. We are still in the messy middle. Here, human thought and empathy are more necessary than ever to achieve the desired outcome. It is here that companies can amplify and monetize the premium human experience."

Loft: "Earlier, you mentioned the concept of a digital twin as applied to the individual. Can you talk about this a bit more?"

Mio Suzuki: "Let's go back to customer care and the future of innovation. Given the abundance of digitized and digital assets and AI-powered operations for decisions across industry value chains, the application of digital twins + pure digital assets (AI-generated assets) is quickly becoming an accepted and integrated part of operations. Still, companies need to deliver premium experiences. Remember when "prompt engineer" was a professional role for a nanosecond? Results now can be had with incredible simplicity. We are seeing the evolution of gen AI agents, with the minimum input from the user being "I want to do this thing." The AI bot speaks back with contextually correct first, second, and tertiary questions, narrowing ever more efficiently to the answer. These bots will serve "the operation of you."

Loft: "Let's consider the importance of context. How much does an AI agent need to know about me to get to the correct answer?"

Mio Suzuki: "Data privacy has always been an issue, and the need for traditional PPI (Personal, Private Information) capture might even diminish. But consider the kind of assumptions AI might generate about you. Today, a digital twin is a virtual replica of physical devices, systems, or processes used to run simulations, analyze performance issues, and test future scenarios without risking the actual system. Given the ever-growing access to abundant, personalized behavioral and sentiment data, applying the usefulness of digital twins to the individual and our larger ecosystem is not a giant leap.

I'm looking to understand better how the presence of this digital twin, or the "Operation of You," will affect how we operate within the real world. How will it drive the evolution of the meta-universe? How will companies respond, and how will the "Operation of You" become a monetizable resource?"

Loft: "Going back to the root of this conversation and the theme of 'Designed by Software,' what is the closing thought you would like to leave with us?"

Mio Suzuki: "As we begin to live out these highly plausible futures shaped by AI, one constant remains an undeniable truth – the trust and comfort that human-to-human interactions enable. This is why, as companies build toward a more autonomous future, the offering of real human interaction, no matter how seemingly small, will remain the ultimate value-add gesture and a differentiator technology cannot easily replicate.

As we innovate and design for the future, let's carry forward the lesson that while AI can enhance our capabilities, the “humankind experience” truly defines premium customer experiences. Let this be a guiding principle for our community of designers, engineers, and leaders as we continue to push the boundaries of what's possible, always mindful of the human touch that distinguishes the extraordinary from the merely efficient."

About the Author



Gregor Mittersinker


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Austrian-born Gregor is in his element while dissecting most complex business & technology challenges and creating their next level business outcomes.

Prior to starting Loft, Gregor led a Strategy & Design team at Accenture Interactive where he helped launch new multi-billion dollar businesses for global fortune 500 companies. He also led creative teams at Rollerblade, InMusic & Cross.

Outside of business hours he teaches Service Design & UX at RISD, and hosts a weekly think tank with global business & political leaders around the world.

He has worked in the US, Europe & Asia over the past 30 years has earned numerous design awards as well as holds well over 100 patents for product innovations around the globe.

A natural motivator, leader, collaborator, and innovator, the only thing that takes Gregor’s eyes off of design for long is his love for winter sports, kitesurfing and DJing in local clubs.

Many have tried to keep up with Gregor, few have succeeded.

Next level inspiration … Japanese wood craft and joinery, minimalist forms that are functional and proportioned.

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