Value Sensitive Design: Four Challenges

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Value Sensitive Design: Four Challenges

  1. 1. Value Sensitive Design: Four Challenges Ibo van de Poel Associate professor Delft University of Technology Fellow-in-residence Netherlands Institute of Advanced Studies May 16, 2010 1
  2. 2. What is value-sensitive design (VSD)? • Systematic attempt to include values of ethical importance in design • Three types of investigations: • Empirical • Conceptual • Technical/engineering May 16, 2010 2
  3. 3. Why VSD? • Design is about changing the world • Inherently normative • Designers have being doing it all the time • But make more explicit, transparent and systematic • Improve design • Include values that have not been commonly included so far May 16, 2010 3
  4. 4. Four challenges for VSD • What values to include in design? • How to make these values bear on the design process? • How to make choices and tradeoffs between conflicting values? • How to verify whether the designed system embodies the intended values?
  5. 5. The challenges • Seem practical in nature • But each of them is related to a deeper underlying philosophical problem • My aim: • clarify problems and show ways for dealing with them or even avoiding them. • No clear-cut methodology for engineers
  6. 6. Philosophical issues • What values to include in design? • What are values? Are they objective or subjective? • How to make these values bear on the design process? • How to bridge the gap between world of ideas and world of things? • How to make choices and tradeoffs between conflicting values? • Do incommensurable values preclude optimizing? • How to verify whether the designed system embodies the intended values? • Can technology embody values?
  7. 7. 1st challenge Sources of values in design: • Design brief (motivation of project) • Designers (and their professional community) • Users and stakeholders • Codes of ethics, codes & standards, law, society May 16, 2010 7
  8. 8. What values to include? • This is a normative question • Sources provide first approximation, but how to decide: • What values are worth including and which ones not? May 16, 2010 8
  9. 9. Correspondence between values and reasons V: If x is valuable or is a value one has reasons for a positive response (a pro-attitude or a pro-behavior) towards x May 16, 2010 9
  10. 10. Possible positive responses • Increase • Maximize • Respect • Protect • Admire • Enjoy • What response is appropriate will usually depend on value and the context May 16, 2010 10
  11. 11. Examples of some appropriate responses in design • Safety • Respect safety margins • Maximize overall safety • Democracy • Involve stakeholders in the design process • Design criteria for democratic technologies (Sclove) May 16, 2010 11
  12. 12. What values to include in design? • (v) is helpful • To distinguish ‘real’ values from ‘mere’ values • To determine appropriate response • But: • Requires judgment • Room for (rational) discussion and disagreement May 16, 2010 12
  13. 13. 2nd challenge • How to make values bear on the design process? • Might require closing gap between humanities/social sciences (value inquiries) and engineering/sciences • Now: focus on translation of values into design requirements
  14. 14. Design requirements • Desirable characteristics of the designed system • Usually formulated at start of design process but may be reformulated during design • Set is often incomplete and potentially conflicting • Hierarchically structured
  15. 15. Values hierarchy May 16, 2010 15
  16. 16. Example of values hierarchy May 16, 2010 16
  17. 17. Constructing a values hierarchy • Can be done top-down and bottom-up • Usually combination and iterative process • Top-down: specification • Bottom-up: for the sake of May 16, 2010 17
  18. 18. Specification • Non-deductive • Context-dependent • Adds information • Scope of norm • Specification of goals • Specification of means • Adequacy: does meeting lower level norms count as an instance of meeting higher level norm or value? May 16, 2010 18
  19. 19. For the sake of • Higher level elements provide reasons for striving for lower level elements • “For the sake of” relation is antisymmetrical • Higher level elements done for their own sake: intrinsic value May 16, 2010 19
  20. 20. Third challenge • How to make choices and tradeoffs between conflicting values? • Incommensurable values • For how much money are you willing to betray your friend? • Incommensurable values preclude optimizing • MCDM, QFD, Pugh charts, AHP
  21. 21. Non optimizing approaches to value conflict in engineering • Satisficing • Reasoning about values • Diversity • Maximizing is not the (only) appropriate response to all values
  22. 22. 4th challenge: How to verify whether the designed system embodies the intended values? • Can technology embody values? • Same technology in different (cultural) contexts realizes different values • But differently designed technologies (with same function) in same user practice also realize different values • Values embodied in “technology + user practice”

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