Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things
University of Chicago Press, 2011
Christine Rosen has written a very long and excellent book review / reflection in The New Republic on the recent book on the moral dimension of technology by Prof. Peter-Paul Verbeek (pictured) of the University of Twente in The Netherlands.
Interaction designers ought to reflect on the fact that Verbeek locates morality not just in the human users of technology but in the interaction between us and our machines. In this affair, human beings no longer hold the autonomous upper hand when it comes to moral agency; rather, Verbeek argues, we should replace that notion with one that recognizes “technologically mediated intentions.”
In a world where new technologies seek to seduce us by invoking the language of self-improvement and where smart algorithms subconsciously bypass our emotional and cognitive “imperfections” in order to make us more efficient, those interested in behavioural change should be aware that this also brings about an increase in moral laziness and a decline in individual freedom. “Freedom, Verbeek says, “is a hollow promise in the absence of agency and choice.”
And all of us would be intrigued to read that Enlightenment principles of human autonomy are according to Verbeek “no longer sufficient grounds for moral thinking in an era whose technologies are as ubiquitous and powerful as our own.” Rosen also quotes Alex Pentland who argues in Honest Signals, his book about sociometers, “We bear little resemblance to the idealized, rational beings imagined by Enlightenment philosophers. The idea that our conscious, individual thinking is the key determining factor of our behavior may come to be seen as foolish a vanity as our earlier idea that we were the center of the universe.”
We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.
Experientia has now its own Twitter feed. Four months of Putting People First posts and other links have already been uploaded. If you followed Experientia on Twitter through the feed of its CEO, Mark Vanderbeeken, make sure to now also follow the company (but don’t unfollow Mark, who will keep on tweeting away). And while […]
Experientia’s Putting People First blog has been redesigned. It is now entirely responsive, allows for easier browsing, searching, and filtering, and features larger images on the posts. The entire history of posts remains accessible as before. We are still tweaking things and welcome any feedback.
Why the world needs anthropologists – Coming out of the ivory tower Location: Padua, Italy, Centro Culturale Altinate/San Gaetano Date and time: Friday, 5 December 2014, 13:00 – 18:00 Padua, Italy, 5 December 2014 – The second edition of the international symposium of applied anthropologists attempts to erase the boundary between ‘pure’ and ‘applied’ anthropology, […]
Last year Experientia designed the interface of an ATM of UniCredit, a major Italian bank. The interface is now rolled out across the bank’s ATMs in Italy, to great satisfaction of the bank and the customers alike, since interaction speed is much faster and error rates went down dramatically. Last year UniCredit and Experientia also […]
In September 2014 Experientia gave a presentation on working as UX professionals with financial institutions at the EPIC conference in New York. The paper is now available on the EPIC site in HTML and PDF versions (free registration req’d). Abstract Application of a user-centered approach rooted in ethnographic methodologies facilitates a major European bank’s transition […]