A Primer on Ethical Design Practices




Collectively agreed upon moral standards

Institutionalized (objective) vs. personal (subjective)

Codes of Ethics:

To protect us from harm (like laws!)

Violate Law? Leave public society. (jail)

Violate Code of Ethics? Leave your field.

The strength and quality of a society is measured by how well it protects all individuals from harm.

“A rigid set of morals”

Programming AI to make judgement calls?

Q: Why program AI to make human decisions?

A: Because humans are biased!
It is a dangerous misconception to believe machines are more objective than humans.

“Save the girl!”

Machines are bad at morals because morals are derived from many, many variables.

“I am a big fan of Fufby and Fuzzable and Snifkin, … because they're so quintessentially guinea pig."

AI is great when solving problems of inconvenience.

What about when human lives hang in the balance?

AI and algorithms:

A “great” way to magnify systemic biases

Minority Report

An allegory on the perils of premature optimization

It's easier to combat biases in one programmer than ten individuals

This truth is not a panacea

“Easier” than “incredibly hard” is still “very very hard”

But let’s think bigger…

What about an AI to help you hire better candidates?

What about an AI that…

…predicts your upcoming pregnancy?
…determines your likelihood for illnesses?
…can steer your political leanings?

Most likely outcome:

Greater homogeneity, worse performance & outcome

Less ethics = more turnover

Unfairness-based turnover in tech is a $16B/year problem

The real problem:

Human ingenuity to avoid doing the uncomfortable work

Ethics: a “duty of care”

Our industry is still young

We grow fast, but we’re also naïve

Even pirates did a better job!

Don’t wait until it’s too late

Are recent VC revelations our industry’s Challenger moment?

Conference and Event CoC’s

Commonplace today, “controversial" five years ago

Creating a Code of Ethics for

Design + Technology

Learn from precedent

• Seek to uncover and confront your biases
• Minimize Harm
• Act Independently
• Be Accountable and Transparent

Actionable and constructive

(with positive, aspirational language)

A framework to operate by

Additional inspiration:

Intersectional Feminism, Socialism, Psychology, HCI…

Thank you!

Faruk Ateş


Liked this talk? Share it!

  •   / 38

Published on , Last updated:

Share this presentation