Originally posted August 13, 2018
Here is an excerpt:
As a product designer, I know that no mandate exists to integrate these ethical checks and balances in our process. While I may hear a lot of these issues raised at speaking events and industry meetups, more “practical” considerations can overshadow these conversations in my day-to-day decision making. When they have to compete with the workaday pressures of budgets, roadmaps, and clients, these questions won’t emerge as priorities organically.
Most important, then, is action. Castillo worries that the conversation about “ethics in design” could become a cliché, like “empathy” or “diversity” in tech, where it’s more talk than walk. She says it’s not surprising that ethics in tech hasn’t been addressed in depth in the past, given the industry’s lack of diversity. Because most tech employees come from socially privileged backgrounds, they may not be as attuned to ethical concerns. A designer who identifies with society’s dominant culture may have less personal need to take another perspective. Indeed, identification with a society’s majority is shown to be correlated with less critical awareness of the world outside of yourself. Castillo says that, as a black woman in America, she’s a bit wary of this conversation’s effectiveness if it remains only a conversation.
“You know how someone says, ‘Why’d you become a nurse or doctor?’ And they say, ‘I want to help people’?” asks Castillo. “Wouldn’t it be cool if someone says, ‘Why’d you become an engineer or a product designer?’ And you say, ‘I want to help people.’ ”
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