Mike Harris – Unintended consequences of design

“Tech moves fast, but human nature stays the same”. We drop products into the delicate ecosystem of human existence and our intent is positive. Are we also responsible for negative effects such as addiction and bullying? Can we predict and warn of the unintended consequences of the next big thing?

Technology does amazing things, especially when improving individual behaviours or making community projects possible. We also promote usability and accessibility so that all the good stuff can be used by everyone. What we often don’t do – in my view – is consider the negative effects of what we design and build, and educate clients about them. Our usual methods of research are not set up for it, and the way we define ourselves does not give us the platform.

In this workshop I hope to ask you to come up with methods and ways of working that we can use as UX practitioners so that we can discover the ‘full effect’ of our digital world. There are several workshop exercises that will feed into this; you will be asked in small groups to first explore the unintended consequences of new digital products, and then to discuss and evaluate research methods to test for them.

By the end of this hands-on discussion group you will have helped unpick where UX and ethics overlap, and have practical food for thought for your next digital endeavour.

About Mike

Mike is a researcher and service designer with a background in Psychology and Human Factors. During the last decade he has worked in many sectors to bring about digital improvement. His main interest is the ethics of tech and how we as humans can live with it.