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What is so Ethical about Design?


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Design can lead companies and organisations to avoid the trap of becoming evil. In this presentation I describe how, by defining the problems and suggesting a solution.

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What is so Ethical about Design?

  1. 1. Whats so ethical about design anyway? Jesper Bylund .com
  2. 2. You may have seen tech giants in the news lately?
  3. 3. Why is it so hard to be ethical?
  4. 4. Before we talk about that, we need to agree on what Ethics are
  5. 5. Ethics verb: 
 actively not doing evil. Jesper Bylund .com
  6. 6. Not acting still makes you evil.
  7. 7. So where does evil come from?
  8. 8. Is it business? (Capitalism!)
  9. 9. Two people consensually trading with each other, while suspect, is not really evil. (It’s not business…) Jesper Bylund .com
  10. 10. Is it people?
  11. 11. Most people want to do good things. (Even when we can’t predict the consequences…) Jesper Bylund .com
  12. 12. Predict turns out to be the key word.
  13. 13. Evil sneaks in, at scale. Jesper Bylund .com
  14. 14. Scale begets stupidity
  15. 15. “Organisations focus so much on efficiency that they fail to be effective. Instead of their core goal, they pay attention to cutting costs and reducing inconvenience to staff.” — Charles Handy paraphrased in the Economist How? Through The Curse of Efficiency Jesper Bylund .com
  16. 16. The purpose of education is to prepare kids for later life. But visit most schools and you’ll find children being prepared for exams.
  17. 17. Healthcare professionals don’t have time for patient wellbeing. They need to solve specific health issues.
  18. 18. And Stupidity begets evil
  19. 19. In our struggle to do our jobs well, we inadvertently start turning humans into things. How? Through Dehumanising Jesper Bylund .com
  20. 20. Management: “It would be easier to organise this company if roles were clearly defined, and human resources could be replaced when needed.”
  21. 21. Sales & marketing: “It would be easier to work with segments and aggregates to create pipelines and arrive at average customer satisfaction numbers.”
  22. 22. General staff & Consultants: “It would be easier to avoid arguments and roll with the decisions already made, we can fix it down the line, besides I’m to busy today.”
  23. 23. We have now created evil. Jesper Bylund .com
  24. 24. But wait, there’s more!
  25. 25. The ultimate dehumanising behaviour: Top Down Design
  26. 26. Structuring organisations, cities, even entire societies to efficiently push humans through the process of life. Jesper Bylund .com
  27. 27. Everyone should have a 9-5 job. Everyone should have 1.8 kids. Everyone should have a house in the suburbs, and drive to work.
  28. 28. The many individuals who do not fit in are not forgotten in our rush to implement our plan.
  29. 29. We see them as outliers, anti social, or even destructive to the order of things. In short, they are a threat.
  30. 30. This is evil. And we are all complicit. But there is a way back to an ethical life! Jesper Bylund .com
  31. 31. Make room for individual difference. Inclusivity. (But not to groups! Only humans.)
  32. 32. Always keep a bit of margin in processes touching humans. Buffers for the round individuals in the square holes.
  33. 33. Design it with exceptions. And design becomes the ethics department.
  34. 34. And always beware of the trap: There is no perfect system. Top Down Design is reductive, humans are not.
  35. 35. Don’t be a tool of Evil. When someone offers you efficiency at scale; give it some human leeway. Jesper Bylund .com