Values Levers: Building Ethics into Design

TitleValues Levers: Building Ethics into Design
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsShilton, K
JournalScience, Technology & Human Values
Volume38
Issue3
Pagination374 - 397
Date Published05/2013
ISSN Number1552-8251
KeywordsCOMPUTER science , ENGINEERING , Moral Climate of Organizations , SOCIAL responsibility , software engineering
AbstractAs information systems transform our world, computer scientists design affordances that influence the uses and impacts of these technological objects. This article describes how the practices of design affect the social values materialized in emerging technologies, and explores how design practices can encourage ethical reflection and action. The article presents an ethnography of a laboratory that engineered software for mobile phones to track users’ locations, habits, and behaviors. This technical work raised a number of ethical challenges, particularly around questions of data use and surveillance. The ethnography suggests that particular activities within laboratories can help engineers agree on social values as important to design. It characterizes these activities as values levers: practices that open new conversations about social values and encourage consensus around those values as design criteria. Laboratory leaders and advocates can enable and strengthen these levers to encourage ethical reflection and action as an explicit part of design practice.
DOI10.1177/0162243912436985
Short TitleScience, Technology & Human Values
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