Exploring Ethics and Human Values in Designing AI

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Reza Arkan Partadiredja
4. Semester, Digital Communication Leadership (Master Programme)
With the increasing concern over the risks of AI and the proliferation of ethical
principles, design plays a potentially important role as it has operationalized applying
values and considering ethics throughout history. However, designers face unique
challenges in designing AI due to its distinct materiality. While some investigations have
been conducted into how designers design AI, not many inquiries have seemingly been
made on how designers apply values and consider ethics in designing AI despite
emerging studies that argue on how design could theoretically play a role. Based on this,
this project asks the question: how do design(ers) apply values and consider ethics in
designing AI?
To explore this inquiry, eight interviews with both AI designers and developers were
conducted to give insights on how their AI design processes are, what role design played
in the process, the challenges they faced in designing AI, their thoughts on the implication
of AI for societies, how they see AI ethical values and their attempts in applying them to
their actual practice. Subsequently, a workshop session with five designers were held to
generate as many ideas as possible to how they might apply values in designing AI then
following it up with a reflection on whether, how, and why these ideas should be applied
in practice.
The findings show emphasis on human-centered and participatory approaches to
apply values and consider ethics in designing AI. However, these efforts are hindered with
inherent challenges on top of other factors that complicates how values and ethics can be
translated into practice. Nonetheless, participants express the essential role and
contribution of designers in the development of AI. These findings lead to the notion that
a paradigm shift in design practice within the context of AI may be required. In further
synthesis, a framework was proposed to reframe AI in different perspectives: (1) AI as is,
(2) AI as a design material, and (3) AI as a sociotechnical system. From these reframings,
ideas and further questions were generated.
As a result in exploring how design(ers) apply values and consider ethics, the insights
from the findings of both interviews and the workshop were synthesized along with the
literature highlights which produced further ideas and questions that can serve as basis
for further endeavours into the inquiries on the intersection between AI, design, and
Publication date31 Jul 2021
Number of pages111
ID: 432295831