Over the next two decades, connected products will demand an unprecedented amount of user trust. Technologists and designers will ask the public for yet more of their attention, more of their data, more of their lives. AIs will know users’ deepest secrets. Co-operating devices will automate security and safety. Autonomous vehicles will even make life-or-death decisions for passengers.
But ours is an industry still unwilling to grapple with the ethical, social, and political angles of our futures. We mistakenly believe that technology is neutral; that inert objects cannot have moral characteristics. And so we make embarrassing blunders – racist chatbots, manipulative research, privacy violations – that undermine trust and harm those we should help.
This is a dangerous trajectory. We urgently need a deeper ethical dialogue about emerging technology, and design’s role within it.