Tuesday, 25 April 2017

What I've been reading w/c 17/04/2017: Diversity and Ethics

Slightly delayed post due to going on holiday!

My week's reading started with Hofstadter’s Law and Realistic Planning By Jane Collingwood where she outlines how "pessimistic-scenario generation is not an effective de-biasing technique for personal predictions.”  this got me thinking about how much of what we do in our lives is shaped by the people who provide us with the services and products that we use.


This article by Monzo is a perfect example of ethical product design should be done. They have thought about what their mission is, who their users are and what issues they might face. Compare and contrast with stories of how Uber use psychology to exploit drivers to see the negative face of "disrupting industries" when that is the sole aim. 


Again working conditions can have an impact even in subtle ways. There is a case here for Product Design and OS professionals to  provide more support on reporting usage to users. Computers are much better at this then humans! Could more thinking like this be a baby step on the path to more development teams thinking like Monzo? 


Next on my reading list was a great post on the difference between basing your business around the vocal 5% and really using feedback for process improvements. So, it's important to make sure to include diversity in customer feedback as well as on your team to avoid systemic bias.


This systemic issues is why diversity in IT is so important. As algorithms control more of our lives the bias of people writing them matters -  the world economic forum has also come up with a list of 10 ethical issues with AI  one of which can be summed up by Blay Whitby "Autonomous Vehicles don’t need to solve the Trolley Problem: but maybe we do" ... which means for a fair outcome for all of us, we need to make sure the people solving the ethical issues are representative of who they will impact. 


Which led me to a good write up of recruitment and diversity by @ashedryden: The Ethics of Unpaid Labor and the OSS Community -  As open source contributions are used as part of hiring process, we need to be careful this doesn't lead to an echo chamber of sorts. Ashe explains this much better than I could so well worth reading her work. 


Looking around at the different groups product design needs to consider I was pleasantly surprised that Microsoft has an awesome body of knowledge on inclusive design. 


Finally Important to remember Women’s History as part of Silicon Valley. There is more diversity than we commonly hear of. The current status quo isn't a foregone conclusion, so it's in our power to change it!