ethics

Tutorial: Data and Ethnography for Better AI Product Development

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OVETTA SAMPSON Microsoft Overview Ovetta Sampson covers when, how, and where to integrate ethnography and data science in the exploratory research process to have better and more ethical AI product development outcomes. With a combination of lecture, case study examples, and exercises, attendees gained a clear understanding of why making data a stakeholder in user research will create a more ethical and human-centered AI product. This tutorial is created especially for researchers who understand the need to mix ethnography and data science but just don’t know quite how to do it. Topics include: Bringing data into research planning to help identify and reduce bias Bringing data science into synthesis to help illuminate system solutions Bringing data science into insight and design principle generation Aligning qualitative data and behavioral data This tutorial was presented in full at EPIC202020. The video includes instructor presentations; discussions and breakout sessions are excluded for the privacy of...

Scaling Dignity: An Antidote to Poverty?

LORENN RUSTER 3A Institute, Australian National University PechaKucha Presentation—A wise woman once shared with me that the opposite of poverty isn't wealth. It's dignity. In a world where scale is about optimising for something bigger, faster, easier, broader and more profitable, we risk decision-making that is at odds with preserving, enabling and enhancing human dignity. What if we changed our focus to instead work out how we scale human dignity? This PechaKucha draws on my career across consulting, social enterprise and academia in geographies from Sydney CBD to rural Uganda and highlights three moments where I experienced dignity that I believe can scale. Through the telling of stories it shows glimmers of how we can choose a definition of scale that preferences dignity. It can look like making space for a chicken gift, enshrining dignity in our organisational values and structures and building question-asking muscles. If we believe that the opposite of poverty is dignity, then scaling dignity is an antidote to poverty....

There’s No Playbook for Praxis: Translating Scholarship into Action to Build a More Ethical Bank

JEFFREY GREGER Varo The US banking industry has a long history of excluding, exploiting, or simply ignoring low-income communities, recent immigrants, and racial minorities. In this paper, I share my experiences creating a community of practice where employees of a rapidly-growing banking startup can identify and confront the ethical challenges facing the financial technology (fintech) industry. This community is informed by insights from four years of activism and anthropological research that I conducted with small teams of service designers and ethnographers developing financial services for and with low- to moderate-income communities around the world. Through this research, I identified three institutional logics—insularity, decontextualization, and technological hubris—which limit efforts to build a more inclusive, equitable banking system. These logics hold the potential to lead well-intentioned organizations, and the practitioners they employ, to harm the marginalized communities they set out to help. This paper concludes...

Where Can We Find an Ethics for Scale?: How to Define an Ethical Infrastructure for the Development of Future Technologies at Global Scale

IAN DULL ReD Associates FANI NTAVELOU BAUM ReD Associates THOMAS HUGHES ReD Associates Despite companies facing real consequences for getting ethics wrong, basic ethical questions in emerging technologies remain unresolved. Companies have begun trying to answer these tough questions, but their techniques are often hindered by the classical approach of moral philosophy and ethics – namely normative philosophy – which prescribe an approach to resolving ethical dilemmas from the outset, based on assumed moral truths. In contrast, we propose that a key foundation for ‘getting ethics right’ is to do the opposite: to discover them, by going out into the world to study how relevant people resolve similar ethical dilemmas in their daily lives – a project we term ‘grounded ethics’. Building from Durkheim's theory of moral facts and more recent developments in the anthropology of morals and ethics, this paper explores the methods and theory useful to such a mission – synthesizing these into a framework to guide future...

Calibrating Agency: Human-Autonomy Teaming and the Future of Work amid Highly Automated Systems

LAURA CESAFSKY Alliance Innovation Lab – Silicon Valley ERIK STAYTON Alliance Innovation Lab – Silicon Valley, MIT MELISSA CEFKIN Alliance Innovation Lab – Silicon Valley This paper explores how the design of everyday interactions with artificial intelligence in work systems relates to broader issues of interest to social scientists and ethicists: namely human well-being and social inequality. The paper uses experience designing human interactions with highly automated systems as a lens for looking at the social implications of work design, and argues that what human and automation each do is less important than how human and automation are structured to interact. The Human-Autonomy Teaming (HAT) paradigm, explored in the paper, has been a promising alternative way to think about human interactions with automation in our laboratory's research and development work. We argue that the notion of teaming is particularly useful in that it encourages designers to consider human well-being as central to the operational success...

Hearing Through Their Ears: Developing Inclusive Research Methods to Co-Create with Blind Participants

GREGORY WEINSTEIN This paper recounts research into the orientation and mobility experiences of people who are blind or visually impaired, and describes the novel sonic research method I developed for this purpose. “Participant Phonography,” as I call the method, aims to empower research participants with low or no vision through the self-guided creation of sound recordings that represent their experiences of the world in a first-person perspective. More broadly, the paper highlights the inadequate efforts of ethnographers in industry to tackle challenges of disability and reflects on the ethical challenges that face researchers who want to include disabled people in research. Inclusive methods like participant phonography have great potential to break down traditional power structures that have rendered non-normative groups marginal in user research, but these methods also come with substantial barriers to their implementation in a corporate context....

Play it Back: Research as Intervention

NATALIE NAPIERInWithForward PechaKucha Presentation The social welfare system was built to protect the vulnerable through the provision of basic needs. I left my social service job to join an organization with a mission to shift that system from safety nets to trampolines - from services designed to maximize safety, to those that develop agency and resilience. That’s meant interrogating and renewing my principles for ethical engagement with people who are getting the poorest outcomes from services. Returning people’s data to them, in the form of a story is now a practice at the heart of my relationships to the people with whom I do research. At the best of times this interaction is an intervention in and of itself, validating someone’s experience and allowing them to open themselves up to new self-narratives. But the goal of story return in not a positive reception; rather, it’s about following through on our ethical commitment to recognize people’s ownership over their own data, and allowing them the opportunity to benefit...

Just Add Water: Lessons Learned from Mixing Data Science and Design Research Methods to Improve Customer Service

OVETTA SAMPSON IDEO Chicago and DePaul University Case Study—This case study provides an inside look at what occurs when methods from the data science and ethnographic fields are mixed to solve perennial customer service problems within the call center and cruise industries. The paper details this particular blend of ethnographic practitioners with a data scientist resulted in changes to design approaches, debunking myths about qualitative and quantitative research methods being at odds and altering team member perspectives about the value of both. The project also led to the creation of innovative blended design research and data science methods to discover and leverage the right customer data to the benefit of both the customer and the call center agents who serve them. This paper offers insight into the untold value design teams can unlock when data scientists and ethnographers work together to solve a problem. The result was a design solution that gives a top-performing company an edge to grow even better by leveraging the millions...

What’s Fair in a Data-Mediated World?

Chair: ELIZABETH CHURCHILL, Distinguished Researcher, IBM Almaden Research Center Panelists: MIRIAM LUECK AVERY, Mozilla ASTRID COUNTEE, Data for Democracy NATHAN GOOD, Good Research This EPIC2018 panel addresses questions of fairness and justice in data-centric systems. While the many social problems caused by data-centric systems are well known, what options are available to us to make things better? Chair Elizabeth Churchill draws the panelists and audience into conversation about making change on many levels, in our daily work as well as larger-scale collaborations. Elizabeth Churchill is a Director of User Experience at Google. She has built research groups and led research in a number of well-known companies, including as Director of Human Computer Interaction at eBay Research Labs, Principal Research Scientist and Research Manager at Yahoo!, and Senior Scientist at PARC and Fuji Xerox’s Research lab. Elizabeth has more than 50 patents granted or pending, 5 co-edited and 2 co-authored books (Foundations for...

Diagnosing the World Pulse

CHRISTOPHER A. GOLIAS, PHD PechaKucha Presentation This PechaKucha explores the ethics of interpreting data by employing an extended metaphor of data as the lifeblood of the connected world. It begins by exploring two distinct viewpoints on medical pulse diagnosis, starting from the perspective of the acupuncturist diagnosing a patient’s pulse and continuing through differences between Eastern pulse diagnosis and biomedical pulse diagnosis. I explore data as lifeblood, and imagine more visceral ways to read data (e.g., auguring data) and the ethical implications of such a reading. I envision data as a flowing river filling a lake, in which diagnostic specialists observe society’s reflection. In the process, I contrast utopian visions of a data driven world with dystopian ones before resolving tension by returning to the central comparison of data scientist and medical doctor. The presentation concludes by recalling medicine’s Hippocratic Oath, an ethical charter binding practitioners to a code of conduct, and implying...

Evidence Outside the Frame: Interpreting Participants’ “Framing” of Information when Using Participatory Photography

TABITHA STEAGER Pacific AIDS Network This paper discusses the benefits and challenges of participatory photography as ethnographic evidence and how as researchers we can “read” the evidence our participants create. Drawing on examples from an ethnographic study examining concepts and constructions of community on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, I examine how we can interrogate photographs as data rather than factual evidence. Adages such as “the camera doesn’t lie” support the view of photography as a purveyor of truth. Photos accompanying journalistic dispatches from far-flung outposts around the world are seen as authentic evidence of real-world situations. Amateur videos of people’s life experiences are filmed on smart phones and then posted to YouTube to be taken as authentic representations of life events. Early ethnographic uses celebrated photography as the ultimate tool for showing that anthropologists had actually “been there,” displaying the exoticism of other cultures in factual black and white....

Expedience, Exigence and Ethics

by ELIZABETH CHURCHILL, Vice President, ACM This is a cautionary tale featuring a well-structured memo and an effective, carefully designed infographic. Both of these artifacts could be considered excellent examples of their respective crafts—the first of technical communication, and the second of graphical information design. Both are also examples of how ethics can be subsumed to expedience, and how the everyday practices of their production were subject to the exigencies of locally acceptable rhetorics and social order. I believe the stories of these artifacts are cautionary tales for us and our own work. Through the (admittedly dark) cautionary tales of these artifacts, I invite us to consider the conditions in which we, EPIC attendees and our international community, produce artifacts that convey “evidence”. I invite us to question the milieux and “atmospheres” in which we work, the sources from which we collect data, our practices and processes when producing evidencing rhetorics, and the role of such evidence in...

Navigating Relativism and Globalism in Sustainability

by CAROLINE TURNBULL, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School & Maryland Institute College of Art Sustainability & Ethnography in Business Series, Mike Youngblood, Editor Sustainability initiatives—social, economic or environmental—can have universal value for stakeholders. But how sustainability is defined, and what successful solutions might look like, can vary dramatically among different communities, or even conflict. One particular interaction a few years ago forced me to re-evaluate my own definition of sustainability, and this experience has affected my approach to the solution-finding process ever since. ⊚ In 2014 I was working for a nonprofit organization that partnered with companies to certify their carpet supply chains as being free of child labor. I was just four years out of college, dizzy with optimism and eager to be working in a field that married my interests in products, ethics and sustainability. The 20-year-old organization I represented was doing incredible work – freeing children from licensed...

Empathy as Faux Ethics

adbusters image with text "me, myself, I"
by THOMAS WENDT, Surrounding Signifiers “The term ‘empathy’ has provided a guiding thread for a whole range of fundamentally mistaken theories concerning man’s [sic] relationship to other human beings and to other beings in general.” —Martin Heidegger Popular design discourse is full of articles, books, and conference presentations on the role of empathy in design. In both commercial and non-commercial settings, most designers argue the same thing: designers should attempt to build empathy for “users” so they can better design for them. But empathy as it’s generally practiced ultimately subverts its own goals. It tends to reinforce “otherness”, promote anthropocentrism, and ignore ecological considerations. Everyday Empathy I recently moved from Manhattan to Queens. My old neighborhood, NoLita (north of Little Italy…thanks, real estate agents), had fully gentrified, with storefronts quickly transforming into cold pressed juice bars ($10/cup) and men’s shaving supply stores ($25 “beard oil”). My...