Designing smart things: Balancing ethics and choice
Gretchen Anderson Product Design Consultant
The design community has gotten very skilled at crafting UIs, whether on a screen, through voice technology, or even via gestures, even as products like the Nest thermostat, the software running wind turbines, and autonomous cars are increasingly
automating choices to simplify their use for people. While data scientists and AI experts are becoming more adept at delivering these algorithms, there hasn’t been enough discussion about their impact on design practice.
As the technology we use becomes more intelligent, empowered, and automated, how will we designers need to evolve our practice? And how do we, as stewards of user needs and rights, ensure that the algorithms people use actually reflect the moral
and ethical choices we might make as humans? Is that even the goal? Gretchen Anderson explores the challenges we face when designing the user experiences of the complex behavioral agents that increasingly run our lives.
Gretchen consults with clients to inform their product strategy and improve team collaboration skills, and her book, Mastering Collaboration is available from O'Reilly. She spent the first part of her career in design consulting for firms like
frog design, Cooper, and LUNAR. Recently, she was Head of Design at PG&E, California’s largest energy company, she has led the design of the hardware and software of a next-generation surgical system, and served as VP of Product at GreatSchools.org.
Her past clients include Virgin Records, Samsung, Johnson & Johnson, and Intel. Gretchen is a Bay Area native who left only long enough to get a bachelor’s degree from Harvard in History & Literature.
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