- Feb 2017
When dealing with technology, there are two dominant discourses that permeate research and practice: determinism and non-determinism. For the former discourse, ethics is only an issue for the designers of technology, because they determine what users should do; for the latter, ethics is only an issue for users, because they ultimately define what to do with technology. Both
So determinism makes the designer responsible/hold accountable assuming they "determine" what users "should" do,
while non-determinism absolves the designer leaving the burden of responsibility of the consequence of interactions, on the user. So non determinism assums that the embedded characteristics don't work on the user, or that he is able to resist their encouragement or discouragement. That he can shape the aspects of those certain characteristics than the other way around, thereby ultimately defining what to do with the technology.
nteraction designers try to impose structures upon human action by shaping coercive environments where people are punished if they do things the “wrong way” and by hiding or not providing options for changing artifact adaptations. Interaction design mediates human agency and power, but if it does not provide choices for action, there is no room for ethics: people act based on conditions, not on considerations of what should be done.
Point on reward & punishment feedback is a really good point, darkpatterns comes to mind.
If IxD does not provide choices for action, there is no room for ethics: People act based on conditions, not on considerations of what should be done
This reactive behaviour is what UX practioners of gamification feel proud to do. It's disgusting to see them feel proud doing it, how come they feel no remorse doing it?. I too will have to do it in the near future, but I won't fucking have a glitter in my eye and a wide smile across my face doing it.
We argue that artifacts support human behavior by providing adaptations, but these adaptations can expand or restrict human actions.
Those adaptations are also framed under the guise of fulfilling the prime objective of fulfilling the business needs, i.e to compete for market share, increase profit margins or simply, "Will this make "them" give "us" more money?. This objective is constrained to view humans in the identity of consumer. It is through this identity we derive the canvas of needs which our bosses and their bosses let us create adaptations.
Many designers are limited to designing a set of adaptations in their artifacts by what markets signals as profitable. Those who are fortunate enough to work in non-profits or worker coops may have more freedom to resist the unethical demands of the market forces.