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The Moral-IT Deck: A Tool for Ethics by Design

07/15/2020
by   Lachlan Urquhart, et al.
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This paper presents the design process and empirical evaluation of a new tool for enabling ethics by design: The Moral-IT Cards. Better tools are needed to support the role of technologists in addressing ethical issues during system design. These physical cards support reflection by technologists on normative aspects of technology development, specifically on emerging risks, appropriate safeguards and challenges of implementing these in the system. We discuss how the cards were developed and tested within 5 workshops with 20 participants from both research and commercial settings. We consider the role of technologists in ethics from different EU/UK policymaking initiatives and disciplinary perspectives (i.e. Science and Technology Studies (STS), IT Law, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Computer/Engineering Ethics). We then examine existing ethics by design tools, and other cards based tools before arguing why cards can be a useful medium for addressing complex ethical issues. We present the development process for the Moral-IT cards, document key features of our card design, background on the content, the impact assessment board process for using them and how this was formulated. We discuss our study design and methodology before examining key findings which are clustered around three overarching themes. These are: the value of our cards as a tool, their impact on the technology design process and how they structure ethical reflection practices. We conclude with key lessons and concepts such as how they level the playing field for debate; enable ethical clustering, sorting and comparison; provide appropriate anchors for discussion and highlighted the intertwined nature of ethics.

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