Over the next two decades, connected products will demand an unprecedented amount of user trust. Technologists and designers will ask the public for yet more of their attention, more of their data, more of their lives. AIs will know users’ deepest secrets. Co-operating devices will automate security and safety. Autonomous vehicles will even make life-or-death decisions for passengers.
But ours is an industry still unwilling to grapple with the ethical, social, and political angles of this future. We mistakenly believe that technology is neutral; that mere objects cannot have moral relevance. And so we make embarrassing blunders – racist chatbots, manipulative research, privacy violations – that undermine trust and harm those we should help.
This is a dangerous trajectory. We urgently need a deeper ethical dialogue about emerging technology, and interaction design’s role within it. This session, informed by many months of ongoing research, will discuss:
– why companies make poor ethical decisions,
– the development of ethical thinking in other morally charged disciplines,
– methods of engaging users in the ethics of emerging technology,
– ways for designers to engage positively and affect ethical outcomes, so that design decisions benefit not only ourselves but our wider communities and the world at large.
Cennydd Bowles is a digital product designer and writer. He has fifteen years of experience helping companies realise the benefits of good design, most recently as design lead at Twitter. Cennydd is author of the popular book Undercover User Experience Design (New Riders 2010) and is writing his second book Ethical by Design (due 2017).