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 our futures. We mistakenly believe that technology is neutral; that inert objects cannot have moral characteristics. 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.
About the Speaker
Cennydd Bowles’ (@Cennydd) is a London-based designer and writer with fifteen years of experience advising clients including Twitter, Ford, Cisco, and the BBC. His focus today is the ethics of emerging technology. He has lectured on the topic at Carnegie Mellon University, Google, and New York’s School of Visual Arts, and is a sought-after speaker at technology and design events worldwide. His second book, Future Ethics, has just been published.
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