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Ethically Aligned Design: A Vision for Prioritizing Human Well-Being [pdf] (ieee.org)
68 points by tacon 40 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 10 comments



There seems to be two camps for technology broadly now: "Humans should control technology" and "Technology should control humans." There are some middle camps like Humans should control technology that should control humans like China, but roughly thats still nets out to "technology should control humans".

I'm starting to see designers, whether systems, UX or Eng flavored, as the last defense against the "Technology should control humans" camp, but ironically, they have the most to gain from that camp as well in the middle term, a la China.

I applaud the IEEE for tackling such a high level topic like this and framing it so clearly. As a designer myself, I'm fully in the camp that Humans should control technology, its a tool that should be clear and discrete. This in itself is a key part of "well-being" as I believe the other half results in things such as addiction, abuse, and unwilling control.

However, when it comes to corporate environments, its becoming harder and harder to define humans as the control point, since there are so many corp benefits to putting technology in control. How have you seen this yourselves? Have you come up with defensive tactics or evangelized human well-being? I'd love to know how.


> There are some middle camps like Humans should control technology that should control humans like China, but roughly thats still nets out to "technology should control humans".

> However, when it comes to corporate environments, its becoming harder and harder to define humans as the control point, since there are so many corp benefits to putting technology in control.

If you're a bit lenient on how you define "technology" so that it includes policy and process, then that group of humans controlling technology controlling humans gets much larger, as it starts to define most medium to large businesses. Put in that context, it might be more accurate to think of it not in terms of technology, but systems. Humans have been using systems to control humans for millennia, and the arguments are just as old, and the system controlling the people is not a new trope either (e.g. Orwell's classic 1984). I suspect researching and regurgitating those discussions will yield interesting perspectives.


1984 specifically has not aged well to the point of its predictions becoming both trite and easily dismissible in a corporate setting. Its sort of exaggerated misery and book burning was so on-the-nose that society of course knee-jerk rejects anything associated with it. I think the lesser understood brother, A Brave New World, better illustrated how we arrived at these forms of control because we prefer them in the pursuit of happiness. Its this difficult trade-off which is inherently post-capitalistic, convenience for control, that we seem to not have a clear way to have a dialog around.


For most tech, the design is aligned with the goals of the business that made it. Until you invent ethically aligned capitalism, limited progress can be made.


Ethically aligned capitalism is just regular capitalism with ethically aligned people, no different from the ethically aligned version of any other society.


No. Companies believe their only duty is to protect shareholder value, so that's what drives their decision making, not ethics. As long as we have that problem, it won't matter how many ethical people we have in our society. As of right now, we have plenty of people who want to do the right thing, but can't because they'll lose their jobs.


Blaming people over systems tends to suit mammalian instincts, but it's not constructive. We can change how society is structured, but not what it's composed of.


I'm pretty sure that's called... well, not capitalism.


The document itself seems to have been written by an AI doggedly determined to use a limited conference vocabulary, from template sentences, and drop names and subjects in lists so they can be very name-droppy, non-sequitir-expressy and hot-linky.

Even the questions (search for ?) are templatey.

It's weird. Jump around to a random spot and mentally parse a paragraph. Glance at the one before and after and see if a question forms in your mind: "Why (do you, did you, would you bother to) say that?" ... the next paragraph is has no answer, just more of the same.

Perhaps I have just awakened from a dream world of simple actions and visceral experience to discover another world of human termites that only communicate with vague chemical signals. Maybe the limited vocabulary describes chemiistry and these people attend conferences so they can sniff one another.


Yeah, this was written by AI.




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