Interaction 19
4-10 February 2019
Seattle, WA
United States

(Im)perfect futures — The hidden ethics of tomorrow’s products

talk – 15 min | Feb 8 – 11:00

Today’s emerging technologies will affect our lives at an unprecedented scale.

Besides their promised benefits, they will come with lots of (unintended) consequences.

Recent examples such as the ‘racist soap dispenser’ (utilizing a hand sensor that is ‘blind’ to black skin) and a Google image sorting algorithm that misclassified a picture of a black couple as gorillas (based on a flawed image set the algorithm was trained with) exemplify some of the issues of these systems.

These very public examples makes one wonder what other hidden ethics are currently being encoded into the underlying systems of our future products.

Since we–as designers–utilize these technologies at scale and design their interfaces to our everyday lives, what will be our role, especially coming from our human centered perspective?

How do we have to not only explore their potential to drive new products but also explore the potential social implications before our products are being released “into the wild”?

At the same time, to what extent do we as designers want to be–and realistically even can we be–involved in ethically fine-tuning the complex inner workings of the increasingly incomprehensible technologies that we work with?

Starting with recent examples of real world imperfect futures, this talk will propose new approaches to unpacking these black boxes. By making their implications visible for discussion we can actively help to shape what the ethics of our future products should be.

It will propose new methods of transforming social speculations into more participatory futures that go beyond just visualizing their potential implications. By making these implications experiential, we can enable new discussions that are informed by own experience rather than only theoretical awareness.

Involving the audience in a participatory thought experiment, it showcases how easily we all get tricked by our own, inherent biases.

The talk finalizes in proposing new approaches to extend our relevance as designers to ethics and past merely designing the inputs and outputs for tomorrow’s technological black boxes.

About the speaker

Daniel Goddemeyer

Daniel Goddemeyer

Daniel Goddemeyer is an interdisciplinary researcher and designer who explores new relationships with technology through research, experiments and product applications.

He is the founder of OFFC, a New York City-based research and design studio, that works with global brands, research institutions, and start-ups to explore future product applications for today’s emerging technologies.

In his own research and with his MFA class at the School of Visual Arts he explores how the increasing proliferation of these technologies in our future lives will transform our everyday interactions.

Throughout his career, he has taken a key or leading role on a wide variety of projects for agencies such as Antenna Design, Future Farmers, ReD Associates, and IDEO.

For his work, he has received several distinctions and awards from the Art Directors Club, the Red Dot Award, the German Design Price, the Kantar Information is Beautiful award and the Industrial Designer Society of America.

His work has been exhibited internationally at the Westbound Shanghai Architecture Biennial, Data in the 21st-century exhibition at V2 Rotterdam, Data Traces Riga and the Big Bang Data exhibition at London’s Somerset house among others.

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