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Ethics: A human-centered design goal

Ethics is fundamentally about doing the right thing for people, not about merely complying with laws. Yet incorporating ethics into our design practice can be challenging. Our tools, processes, education, and the cultures we work in too often have limited to no support. Even the discussion can make people uncomfortable. Consider changing the conversation and rethinking ethical design. Talk about carrots (value) and not sticks (legality). Develop methods and practices to make ethics a core human-centered design constraint. (This was presented at UXPA 2017 in Toronto, Canada.)

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Ethics: A human-centered design goal

  1. 1. Karen Bachmann @karenbachmann Ethics: A human-centered design goal UXPA 2017 Toronto #UXPA2017 #DesignEthics
  2. 2. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 ● Ethics and related concepts ● Different ways to talk about ethics and share a positive message ● Building business and professional case for ethical outcomes as design goals ● Ideas for making ethics a core part of our design practices What we’ll be discussing 2
  3. 3. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 3 “AND ETHICS IS SUCH A NEGATIVE SUBJECT.” Many people believe that embracing ethics would limit their options, their opportunities, their very ability to succeed in business. John C. Maxwell, Ethics 101 (CEO considering ethics as a topic for a sales meeting)
  4. 4. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 Empathy Ethics 4 Ethics has a PR problem. Empathy, though related, doesn’t.
  5. 5. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 Empathy ● A “method of data gathering about… humans” ● The basis of ethics; makes “ethical life possible" Ethics ● A philosophy that governs actions informed by empathy among other inputs from the “ecology” ● Standard of expected behavior that guides the correct course of action 5
  6. 6. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 Ethics 6 Morality Legality the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group; a guiding philosophy of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior; conforming to a standard of right behavior attachment to or observance of law Definitions from
  7. 7. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 A progression for doing good? 7 LawsNorms/CodesEthicsValues/morals
  8. 8. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 Applied Ethics 8 Applied ethics is a field of ethics that deals with ethical questions specific to a professional, disciplinary, or practical field. Subsets of applied ethics include medical ethics, bioethics, business ethics, legal ethics, and others. Applied ethics is the philosophical examination, from a moral standpoint, of particular issues in private and public life which are matters of moral judgment. It is thus the attempts to use philosophical methods to identify the morally correct course of action in various fields of everyday life. Definitions from and
  9. 9. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 9 Code of ethics WIKIPEDIA “PROFESSIONAL ETHICS” Most professionals have internally enforced codes of practice that members of the profession must follow to prevent exploitation of the client and to preserve the integrity of the profession.
  10. 10. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 10 Code of design ethics? RELATED CODES ● AIGA ● HFES ● ACM ● IEEE All focus on business conduct and some for research, not guidance for ethical design. Useful, but incomplete.
  11. 11. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 ● APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, specifically section 8, “Research and Publication” ● The Little Book of Design Research Ethics (IDEO) ● But what about ongoing data collection and data science? …most of the activities we call “data science” fall outside of those regulations, and data science receives little in the way of prior ethics review. Clear guidance for user research? 11
  12. 12. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 12 So what?
  13. 13. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 ● Ensure that the human need and benefit is considered fully in our work. ●Consider the full human context, including implications for technology over time and social ecosystem. ●Mitigate the thrill of the “new.” ● Counter the emphasis on technology over humanity and the primacy of "data" over people. ● Ensure that human stories accompany qualitative data or other tools that diminish the visibility of actual people. ● Ethics can provide a pragmatic path to supporting these goals and the conversations around them. Why should UX professionals care? 13
  14. 14. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 14 CONSIDER ETHICS WHEN DESIGNING NEW TECHNOLOGIES What is needed is strong, anticipatory guidance by those who intersect the technology, health and ethics worlds to determine how we develop and deploy technologies that deliver the greatest societal benefits. Christie and Yach, TechCrunch Reacting to Facebook’s dilemma with fake news
  15. 15. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 15 Making ethics a design goal ● A business case ● A professional case
  16. 16. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 vs.
  17. 17. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 17 All too easy to find examples of unethical behavior 586/the-year-dark-patterns-won
  18. 18. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 ● Need to think ethically in a larger scale, not just "treat your participants well" and "avoid dark patterns" ● Move away from focusing on the cost of being caught being unethical, illegal, non-compliant because it encourages only the minimum ● Avoid the fatigue of negativity by only telling the cautionary stories or focusing on shocking failures Focus on the “stick” is not enough
  19. 19. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 ● Business and professional value ● Ability to measure success gained as a result of ethical practices, not penalties avoided ● A stance of opportunity and growth, not constraint and stagnation Consider the “carrot” ethical design offers
  20. 20. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 Companies with good ethical policies earn: ● Marketing advantages over their competitors. Customers readily invest in the companies through shares and also want to establish long lasting business relations with the company. ● The performance of employees improves with good ethical policies present in a company. Morale is high and employees feel obligated to put in their all to continue to make it a success. ● Reputation management: a bad reputation is created by unethical behaviour which will eventually lead to a scandal. A scandal will result in falling stock prices, anxiety, and low morale among employees as well as government and public scrutiny and inquests. ● Legal and financial incentives: companies known for their high ethical standards and education of employees on ethical polices are provided with strong legal and financial incentives by regulatory bodies. Support: SixSigma Online 20
  21. 21. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 ● It reduces business liability. ● It helps employees make good decisions. ● It assures high-quality customer service. ● It prevents costly administrative errors and rework. ● It consistently grows the bottom line. Support: National Ethics Association 21
  22. 22. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 A better motivation for inspiring ethical behavior is the benefits it provides, both personally and financially. Besides feeling good about doing the right thing, principled business conduct can also be profitable. Ethical behavior is good business. Four key benefits: ● Easier accounting – real numbers and honest account is easier than maintaining falsified records ● Better branding – creates trust with employees, suppliers and customers ● Improved bottom line – retain customers, earn high ratings, and gain referrals ● Better health – Reduce stress and feel better about your business Support: Steve Parrish in Forbes 22
  23. 23. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 23 QUOTING JAMES BURKE If you invested $30,000 in a composite of the Dow Jones thirty years ago, it would be worth $134,000 today. If you had put that $30,000 into these [socially and ethically responsible] firms - $2,000 into each of the fifteen [in the study] – it would now be worth over $1 million. John C. Maxwell, Ethics 101 Chairman of Johnson and Johnson
  24. 24. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 24 DESIGNER’S RESPONSIBILITY If your company is just in it for the money, maybe you should look for a better company. It’s not your fault, but it is your responsibility. Alan Cooper Do the ethics of your employers align with yours?
  25. 25. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 ● Technology is changing faster than ever, and that can lead to fear, uncertainty, doubt, anger, and unrest. ● Examples abound in the tech industry of unethical behavior, arrogance, and lack of empathy. Culture and leadership have reputation for being unethical. ● Technology is not neutral, but too often we jump into the new and the cool before considering the ramifications. ● Ethical decisions are often not starkly good or bad, but nuances of behavior and habits. Just walking away isn’t the answer. ● Why not lead through design? Ethics is needed in tech 25
  26. 26. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 ● Understand your values and adopt an ethical stance that embodies them before you reach a crisis. ● “Be conscious and aware of what you’re endorsing with your time, not only for the welfare of others but for your own sense of self. The work you choose to take on defines you.” - Stephen P. Anderson ● Establish what it means to do good, not merely avoid doing harm. Consider context as well as tactics. Know your ethical boundaries 26
  27. 27. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 ● Support and bolster your colleagues’ ethical practice ●Share case studies and techniques ●Adhere to and promote ethical design practices ●Amplify successes ● Protect the integrity of the profession by setting a standard of ethical design practices as the norm Promote professional boundaries 27
  28. 28. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 28 Tools for ethical design If it's not ethical, it cannot be beautiful. Yves Behar
  29. 29. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 ● Design programs with ethics in the curriculum ● Code of ethical design ● Design and research “hygiene” ● Ethical design methodologies, heuristics, guidelines, practices Do we have the tools? 29
  30. 30. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 Scenarios, role playing? 30 ● Trolley problem: Break failure while in motion ● Two choices, but both are deadly ● Unrealistic qualifiers WHO DIES? MIT Moral Machine Project:
  31. 31. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 31 ● In design, more than dark patterns! In research, more than session decorum. ● Similar to HBR issues articles that explored real, nuanced situations. ● No absolute right or wrong or even catastrophic failure – but a cost to be weighed. CASE STUDIES MIT Moral Machine Project: Scenarios, role playing?
  32. 32. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 ● New thinking: Cradle-to-cradle or closed loop design thinking ● Biomimicry, nature as inspiration ● Focus on human and ecosystem benefit and betterment ● Focus on design over time and evolving scenarios Rethinking how we design 32 Reference:
  33. 33. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 33 ● Product definition ● Product vision ● Who and When ● Benefits and Harms ● Trade-offs Ethical Design Protocol Detailed article:
  34. 34. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 Ethical Design Protocol 34
  35. 35. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 Applying the protocol: Exercise app ● Definition: A native mobile app that ● Tracks physical activity using platform tools ● Reminds users to exercise at specified intervals based on health ● Suggests new exercises periodically ● Connects to social media to create accountability with connections ● Vision: To help increase health and foster healthy habits in a sedentary population 35
  36. 36. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 Applying the protocol: Exercise app ● Who? ● Directly affected ● Indirectly affected ● What is one benefit gained by someone in each group? ● Initially ● After using the product over time ● What is one harm those same people might experience? ● Initially ● After using the product over time ● Can the harm be mitigated? Does it require a trade-off against a benefit? 36
  37. 37. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 37 Instead of a designer code of ethics… consider a users’ bill of rights!
  38. 38. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 Example: Computer User’s Manifesto BY DR. CLAIRE-MARIE KARAT AS SHARED BY THEO MANDEL ● The user is always right. If there is a problem with the use of the system, the system is the problem, not the user. ● The user has the right to easily install software and hardware systems. ● The user has the right to a system that performs exactly as promised. ● The user has the right to easy-to-use instructions for understanding and utilizing a system to achieve desired goals. ● The user has the right to be in control of the system and to be able to get the system to respond to a request for attention. ● The user has the right to a system that provides clear, understandable, and accurate information regarding the task it is performing and the progress toward completion. ● The user has the right to be clearly informed about all system requirements for successfully using software or hardware. ● The user has the right to know the limits of the system’s capabilities. ● The user has the right to communicate with the technology provider and receive a thoughtful and helpful response when raising concerns. ● The user should be the master of software and hardware technology, not vice-versa. Products should be natural and intuitive to
  39. 39. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 Design principle User has a right … Digestibility Not to work too hard to accomplish their goals Digestibility To have their goals and their time respected Clarity To understand exactly what they are getting Clarity To be respected Trust To be informed and in control Familiarity To be oriented from the moment they start using a product Familiarity To have their prior experience and knowledge respected Delight To have an enjoyable experience Delight To have an effortless (or appropriate effort) experience Delight To have the UI disappear into the context of their work Adapt design principles into user rights 39 From a blog post by InVision:
  40. 40. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 40 Other ideas or examples?
  41. 41. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 ● Understand where ethics fits in our work and with other influences on design practice ● Able to establish business and professional cases for ethical design ● Gained some tools and techniques to incorporate ethical decision- making in you design practice ● Increased awareness about the value of and role for ethics in the profession Takeaways 41
  42. 42. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 42 The BIG takeaway! DRAWING FOR ATTENDEES
  43. 43. Karen Bachmann @karenbachmann Ethics: A human-centered design goal UXPA 2017 Toronto #UXPA2017 #DesignEthics Presentation will be posted on Slideshare and available at
  44. 44. @design4context Ethical Design UXPA 2017 In the past year, I’ve read a tremendous amount of articles on ethics, design, and related topics. I am happy to share my full reading list, but here are some that I found especially insightful for this specific talk. ● Mark B. Baer, Esq. “The Connection Between Empathy Toward Others and Ethics,” Psychology Today ● Cennydd Bowles, “Ethics in the AI Age,” presented at IxDA 2017 ● Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan, “The Year Dark Patterns Won,” Co.Design ● Gillian Christie and Derek Yach, Consider ethics when designing new technologies ● Samantha Dempsey and Ciara Taylor, Designer’s Oath ● Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Empathy and Sympathy in Ethics” ● John C Maxwell, Ethics 101: What Every Leader Needs to know ● #uxchat on Twitter “Embedding Ethics into Design,” hosted by What Users Do ● Sara Wachter-Boettcher and Eric Meyer, Design for Real Life ● Thomas Wendt, "Empathy as Faux Ethics” Selected Readings and References 44