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Ethics & AI - Design for Good.

That is the theme of an event I helped organise in January 2023 in collaboration with Ladies that UX Amsterdam, hosted at PwC Experience Center, as well as a workshop I'm doing later this year. The workshop will include topics such as automation and historical behavioural science and quantum computing, data and conceptual reality and I will also touch on that in this article.

"I didn't believe x until I Googled it", have you heard this before? Authoritative perception despite being non instigated and a for profit private corporation.

At the event. Koert Bakker briefly discussed how technology changes ethics, and it really clicked because 1. in the question posed, it's clear to see that a tech company has shaped our understanding in many ways and 2. the fact that Ethics does change. There is no universal truth regarding good and bad to drive home the point I will mention some cases for consideration.

Drapetomania was a term used in the 19th century to describe a supposed mental illness that caused enslaved African Americans to run away from slavery. The term was invented by Dr. Samuel A. Cartwright, a physician in the antebellum South, as a way to justify and explain the enslavement of African Americans.

Drapetomania was considered a form of insanity that was unique to enslaved African Americans, and it was believed to be caused by improper treatment by slave owners. The supposed cure for drapetomania was to keep slaves under strict control and to use physical punishment to prevent them from running away.

While it is true that drapetomania was a false and discredited theory, it was used to justify the enslavement of African Americans. The concept of drapetomania has no basis in established science today, but it was used as a "scientific" tool of oppression to control and exploit enslaved people. Today, it is widely recognized as a pseudoscientific and racist concept that has no place in modern* medicine or psychology.

It may sound like Mr Cartwright was not all Allright himself, but do note that he was a trained physician, his work was published and for a time considered scientifically sound. In order to enslave another being, one must be fairly detached and that is clearly evident here. The "educated" "normal" person of today can quite easily feel compassion and has some level of empathy in varying degrees.

UPDATE: New insight. Slavery of Africans was started by Africans who traded with their slaves. While others traded in silk, spices and the like, Africans traded with human lives. This has raised a question in my mind. What if he was right? All we know of history is what we are told, and without being there, it's hard to say. But if African "nobility" did do that to their own, then is it possible that Cartwrights' reasoning stemmed from that, and if it stemmed from a place like that, then perhaps conditions were indeed better, although I find it hard to justify.

As a white woman, I've endured brutality and violence from others who justify themselves through their senselessness, self importance and lack of comprehension. I found this first in the white communities I grew up in, but have also experienced it from other races. Perhaps looking at individual character instead of race, religion, demographics etc, we can conclude that it's a human thing. White nobility and their serfs, black chiefs and their slaves. Same pattern, same mentality.

We reason from within the mental model that we construct throughout our existential experience. Much of that, and in fact the most defining, happens before "we" technically even exist because we don't actually remember it by the time that we have gained a higher level of awareness. For example the language we speak, or the beliefs we have, are seldom metrics we understood and then chosen, yet these are often most defining. As we develop and mature our mental models become more developed and complex due to the existential experiences we have, and the output of these learnings become our reasoning models. Think of every sensory input as a bit of data. The data that you obtain projects into very simple charts which paints a picture relative to your understanding.

At its height, slavery spanned several generations. For those born during slavery, it was the norm. I can imagine that in Cartwrights' time that there was very little empathy for African descendants and therefore the reasoning behind Drapetomania and other nonsensical notions, was absolutely in line with the scientific, educated, intelligent lines of thought, despite lacking on various levels.

We do not know what we do not know and can only learn when the conditions are right.

As (UX) designers, much of our work enter the realm of psychology, or as I prefer behavioural science. From a young age I often wondered what makes people do what they do and when I discovered psychology, many of my questions had more logical or plausible answers. I started realizing soon in that some of what I was learning was questionable to say the least.

What will you make of these three facts?

1. The field of psychiatry has seen significant growth and changes over the past several decades.

2. Mental health problems among youth have been on the rise in recent years. Studies have shown that rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders have increased among children and adolescents.

3. Behavioural science is abused more and more in the guise of PR, Marketing and Advertising.

There have been new discoveries in the field of psychiatry and medication that have called into question the long-held belief that depression is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. For decades, patients with depression have been prescribed drugs that aim to correct these alleged imbalances, but which often have severe and even life-threatening side effects. Some of these side effects include increased suicide rates, severe weight gain, and potential addiction to the medication.

The question of whether psychiatrists are "evil" or simply misinformed is a complex one. Historically, there have been instances in which psychiatrists have perpetuated false or harmful ideas, such as the concept of drapetomania, which you know was used to justify the forced medication of enslaved people who attempted to escape.

It is important to say that psychiatry is a field that is constantly evolving, and new discoveries and research findings can lead to changes in the way mental health conditions are understood and treated. Still, it is important to acknowledge and learn from past mistakes in order to prevent their repetition in the future and to remember that even though professionals attempt to be correct or right, they are just human and prone to the same mechanisms which they seek to understand. Someone may understand certain mechanics of manipulation for example, but may not be able to avoid being manipulated.

Furthermore, we reason from our own understanding, an understanding shaped by our existential circumstance. Today we may look at Cartwright and see the desperate plea for self-justification through rationalising misconduct as not belonging to the perpetrator but as that of the victim.

Confirmation bias is a cognitive bias in which people tend to seek out and interpret information in a way that confirms their existing beliefs or hypotheses. This can lead to a failure to consider alternative perspectives or to consider disconfirming evidence. Although we have learned this through psychological study, at the same time we ignored the reality of "chemical imbalances" which demonstrates the struggle with bias even from a trained educated perspective.

One study, by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that people experience physical pain when their self-esteem is threatened. This is known as "social pain" and is thought to be related to the activation of the same neural pathways that are involved in physical pain.

It can be difficult for people who are also professionals to be truly honest with themselves, as we tend to have a natural inclination to view ourselves in a positive light. This can lead to a failure to acknowledge or address one's own biases, flaws or mistakes.

The normalization of poor behavior refers to the process by which a behavior that is considered unacceptable or deviant becomes accepted or tolerated within a society. This can happen gradually over time, as people become accustomed to seeing the behaviour and it becomes less shocking or noticeable. It can also happen through a process of socialisation, where individuals are taught that the behaviour is acceptable through the messages they receive from their peers, family, and other social institutions.

Examples of poor behavior that has been normalised include racism, sexism, and discrimination against marginalized groups. It can also include things like bullying, dishonesty, and aggression. The normalization of poor behavior can have negative effects on individuals and communities, leading to increased social problems and decreased well-being. It is important for individuals and society as a whole to actively work to recognize and challenge normalization of poor behavior and to promote positive and healthy behaviors. Most of these poor behaviours often stem from power struggles.

Human behavior in respect to power struggles is a complex and nuanced topic that has been studied for centuries. One shocking truth about these power struggles is that they often stem from a deep-seated need for individuals and organizations to assert dominance over others. This need for power can manifest in many different ways, from creating new technologies to destroying the innovations of rivals.

One often used real-life example of this can be seen in the case of the first indestructible pantyhose. In the early1900s, a factory developed a new type of pantyhose that was almost impossible to tear or run. However, before the product could be released to the market, the factory was burned down by competitors who did not want the revolutionary product to succeed.

Another example of this behaviour can be seen in the case of the light bulb factory. In the late 19th century, the race to invent the first practical light bulb was fierce. One inventor, Edward H. Johnson, had developed a new type of light bulb that was much more efficient than anything else on the market. However, before he could release it to the public, his factory was destroyed by competitors who wanted to maintain their dominance in the industry.

A currently popular example circulating on social media is the relationship between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. Despite the fact that Tesla developed many of the key technologies that made Edison's inventions possible, Edison often took credit for Tesla's work and profited greatly from it.

These examples all demonstrate how the drive for power and dominance can lead individuals to engage in destructive behavior that prevents progress and innovation.

I posted about this on LinkedIn and asked professionals which instance they thought was reflective of success.

On LinkedIn polls are only active for max 2 weeks, so here it is again, I will publish it here and see what responses we get over time.

What is success & who in these stories would you consider to be successful humans?

  • 0%The inventors

  • 0%The competitors

I will leave it up to you to determine the ethical standards of the mentioned cases, but I will say that ethics is complex, not because we do not know the difference between good and bad, but because we change our minds about what good and bad is based on our existential circumstance.

In terms of ethics, there are often complications and challenges that make it difficult to arrive at clear answers. Three lines of thought that can be particularly challenging to address when evaluating ethics are:

  1. Utilitarianism vs. deontology, which involves weighing the potential consequences of an action against the inherent morality of the action itself.

  2. The problem of cultural relativism, which holds that ethical principles are relative to the individual or culture, and that there is no objective right or wrong.

  3. The tension between individual autonomy and the common good, which raises questions about the extent to which individuals should be free to make their own choices versus the responsibility of society to protect the well-being of all.

Ultimately, determining whether our actions are ethical requires careful consideration of all relevant factors, as well as a willingness to be honest about our own biases and perspectives. It is important to understand the complexities of ethical decision making and to be open to different perspectives and critique.

The most obvious challenge we face in making things ethically boils down to the ideals vs the realities. Ideally I tell you not to use dark design, realistically you may be a parent who must feed their child and have no option for another job, so you do as you're told. Our dilemmas are that even ethical people can and do find themselves in positions where they have no power or authority to realise their ideals. This is where power dynamics really start to factor in on the ability of individuals to actually apply principles such as ethical design.

The story of the emperor's new clothes is a cautionary tale that highlights the dangers of blindly following authority and societal norms. In the story, the emperor is convinced to wear invisible clothes by a pair of cunning weavers, but the only person who speaks out against the deception is a young child.

In the context of this article I'd like to juxtapose Gibson's Law & the Naked Emperor. On this level it speaks about the invisible titles and accreditations we wear. Some of the smartest people can sometimes act like the biggest fools.

Further complicating that is the fact that a large body of our institutional knowledge lies in the business sector, not only because companies pay for research, but because most universities are themselves businesses.

The issue here is that corporations do not center their business around serving humans, but humans serving it.

L'Oréal tells you that you are worth it so that their products can appeal to your vanity metrics. In this way, a lot of the communication we get from the business aspect from universities also verifies us as more special than "unlearned" people and those who have not paid for, or were not privileged enough to study.

Furthermore, while many choose to specialise and do one thing good, there will always only be only a few who understand how singular components fit together in the whole.

This unfortunate fact is also why peer review is not always the best method to determine if a topic can hold water, just ask anyone who has ever been "diagnosed" with "chemical imbalances" or told that they are mentally ill for seeking freedom.

Imagine for a moment a different story where the deception may not be limited to just one individual, but an entire village. Imagine a society where everyone is sold invisible clothes and there is no little boy or girl to speak out against it because they are themselves wrapped in the collective lie we tell our kids about Santa Claus and the like. In this scenario, the entire village is living under the illusion that they are dressed in the finest clothes, while in reality, they are all naked.

This is how we can view ourselves if we professionals, who are meant to be the smart ones who are also meant to be rewarded for the value and impact of our efforts, fail to address the shortcomings and weaknesses in ourselves. The caregivers who prescribed antidepressant drugs that resulted in actual increase in suicide can't all have been evil, could they? They relied on information from knowledge institutions that exist, not in fact to make the most out of our collective knowledge, but to run businesses, which market and position themselves the same way business does.

This scenario raises questions about the nature of reality and the ways in which we are all influenced by perceived superior norms and perceptions. It is not dissimilar to a child realizing that Santa Claus is not real. How can so many people be lying to all children? How can they all be in on it? It is a reminder that often there are forces that shape our understanding of reality, whether it be parents, media, business, education or any other body that forms part of society as a whole, from a young age, and we seldom question what we think we already know. When was the last time you checked if gravity is still a thing? If you witness a cat pushing a vase off the table, do you question what will happen next?

Ethical design under two minutes with Trine Falbe, founder of the Ethical Design Network

The movie The Matrix is another perfect example of how mental models and idealisms shapes our understanding of reality. The concept of reality is questioned as the protagonist Neo discovers that the world he thought was real is actually a simulated reality created by a powerful artificial intelligence. This artificial intelligence being the "fake" narratives we encounter in our daily lives which exists to appeal to our own shortcomings. Are you really worth it just because you buy from a brand?

This is where the term "conspiracy theory" comes into play. For some individuals, the idea of a constructed reality is too difficult to accept, and they may label those who question reality as conspiracy theorists.

This, in turn, creates a divide between those who are willing to question reality and those who are not. It also leads to the perpetuation of misinformation and the rejection of facts that may challenge one's beliefs.

It's also worth noting that the term "conspiracy theory" is often used as a pejorative to dismiss ideas or theories that challenge mainstream beliefs. However, it's important to remember that many of the most groundbreaking discoveries and innovations in history were initially dismissed as "conspiracy theories" before being proven true. You can look no further than looking at dark design to find an example of conspiring against humanity as a prime example, which draws from behavioural science, including psychology.

When it comes to the example of the "chemical imbalances" theories I've been writing about, it's easy in hindsight to see how such a humiliating and shameful situation can occur even today. A whole bunch of people were trained with a set of information that was not only false but caused a lot of harm, and yet these same people believed that they were and knew better. I hate to say it, but it's not just the mental health care industry that has these kinds of failures, it's in all sectors, and none more as dangerous and damaging as the communication industry, in which design plays a crucial role. It's me writing this article thinking, hoping, reasoning that I have some kind viewpoint that is valid based on my knowledge and experience. It's you who is consuming this information on a quest to discover something. It is us, the human race, in its full glory.

For UX designers, the reasoning behind using psychology as a topic in this article is clear. We design for emotion, and psychology seeks to explain and rationalise emotion, so we use it as a foundation. While there is of course a lot that can be learned, it is of the utmost importance to also analyse the psychology of psychology if we are to become more ethical in our process.

We who design for emotion, what exactly do we design and where do we lead people to? What is the impact of designing for emotion when we do not actually care about those who experience the emotions we create?

The story of the naked emperor is almost 200 years old, but probably one of the best examples of user experience summed up in a single tale.

For all creatives, innovators and designers, the cornerstone which defines our pillars of work today, must also be analysed, scrutinised and understood for its own weaknesses. This corner stone is PR, Public Relations. We may not be aware because we are trained by the same institutions, built by the same creatures, humans, us, that has given us Drapetomania in the past, and chemical imbalances in the present. If you want to be more ethical in your creative process, you must question your knowledge endlessly. Luxury beliefs is something which we must investigate, how it came to be and our role in it. After all if you look at the picture painted in the Emperor's new clothes, can you not identity with the cunning weavers?

The emperor is your customer, user, or viewer. In the story he is some vain man of power and because people love to hate authority, we don't really empathise with him as much as the clever little boy. In reality he is your equal in many ways, and not only that, but due to the very real complicated and challenging nature of humans shaped by thought and emotion which spills over into our behaviour and it's output such as business and education, can you ever really be sure that the fabric that makes up your perception has not made you yourself a naked emperor at least partially?

The sheer amount of misinformation and actual professional buy in from those studying psycho-analysis resulting in the wrongful drugging of millions of people throughout the last few decades, causing untold human suffering, should make you think about the unknowns or undisclosed known impact of our work. We don't know what we don't know. Even baby Einstein did not know how to do advanced math and had to have his bum wiped. Few would say that he was not a genius, but if you juxtaposed baby Einstein with a 45 year old with an IQ of 100, and based their intelligence on what they know, one may say the 45 year old is smarter because they can likely answer more questions. Context is key, and context is the product of existential circumstance.

Coming back to that mentioned cornerstone, I dare to say, that we have a real life example of the naked emperor wisdom that unites much of what I've talked about already on various levels, and this example laid much of the foundation of our work, Eddie Bernays.

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society." - Eddie Bernays

Eddie Bernays was an Austrian-American public relations pioneer who is considered to be the father of modern public relations. He was born in Vienna in 1891 and immigrated to the United States in the early 20th century. Throughout his career, Bernays applied the principles of psychology and sociology to influence public opinion and shape public relations strategies for businesses and governments. He is credited with developing several influential public relations techniques, including the use of celebrities and influencers to endorse products and the creation of events to generate media coverage. Bernays's work continues to have a major impact on the field of public relations and his ideas are still widely studied and applied today.

Public relations and propaganda share similar techniques for influencing public opinion, such as the use of media, emotional appeals, and shaping the message to suit the target audience. However, the key difference between the two is the intention behind the message. Public relations is a communication discipline aimed at maintaining a positive image and reputation for an individual, organization, or product through transparent and honest communication with stakeholders. Propaganda, on the other hand, is a deliberate and often misleading attempt to shape public opinion and advance a particular political or ideological agenda. Propaganda often uses manipulative and deceptive tactics to influence people's beliefs and actions, while public relations seeks to build trust and credibility with its audience. While public relations and propaganda may overlap in their methods, the ethical considerations and goals behind them are fundamentally different.

...ethical considerations and goals behind them are fundamentally different...

That is the idealistic imaginary fabric many of us cloak ourselves against scrutiny with. The first reality crushing the distinction between public relations and propaganda, is the complications of ethics outlined above, and the very currently real occurence of dark design/marketing tactics that is demonstrated by the graphic above in many products around the globe. Companies have been fined billions due to violations against consumers in recent years.

Much of our ability to protect ourselves from those who seek to exploit us, comes from those who are able to learn from their experience, and those who inform us about exploitation tactics used. If we fall victim to confirmation bias, while having our perception shaped in service of what someone who has no relation to or understanding about us let alone any concern about our well being, in a world where we have no authority over the course of our own life, how will we fight for freedom it this time?

If you are would like to understand more about how propaganda and PR shapes our world you may wish to explore how PR formed Marketing & Advertising, and how Creative, Innovation and Design disciplines heavily supports, builds and enables the objectives and strategies thereof. It's important to remember that CID disciplines have some great and valuable offerings, but it can and often is exploited, like everything else.

For example let's look at the case of the recent Balenciaga scandal?

Are you aware of the myriad of conversations going on in and beyond a single image?

Below I will include three articles about it, and I would like you to look at the headlines and maybe read the articles. Notice a.) who the finger points to and also take note of b.) the conversation tone.

Balenciaga scandal - Brand issues statement, drops lawsuit as creative director responds to backlash. - Yahoo news

Balenciaga apologises for ads featuring bondage bears and child abuse papers. - The Guardian

The Balenciaga controversy, explained - Glossy

All three articles makes light of the fact that there is no accountability for none of the involved parties although they all set a different tone. Yahoo news uses a condemning voice with strong words, The Guardian opting for a more objective informative journalistic voice by balancing words, and Glossy uses reassuring words (while also highlighting perceived positive numbers). These narratives are important aspects that shape our mental models, which is of course the source of our reasoning, with which we shape our ethical understanding. Here confirmation bias factors in too.

Before it gets too lengthy, the focus point here should be examining the relationship of narratives from various viewpoints and what authority those voices have while taking note that in PR all publicity is good publicity. This is the shaping and managing of public opinion, and I can promise you that if you are reading this, more than likely, your opinion has been shaped as much as anyone else you are likely to encounter, especially if you have been to school, are an consumer, or if you have any opinion at all.

What is ethical I ask you? How can you know that you are just in your reasoning of ethical behaviour? Typically we use ques from the feedback we get from those we engage with. I think we have a certain stabilisation factor to our advantage in that we could read all three (and more) articles outlined above, and to an extend draw our own conclusions.

This case is a drop in the bucket. Aside from evaluating communication strategy and motivations from general stakeholders in a single case, if we want to gain some sort of understanding in the ethics in this case, we must go to the next layer, and this is analysing the persons involved.

To do this thoroughly, each stakeholder should be considered. Since this is an article and not a book, I will shine the light on one only. To shorten it even more I will focus on only one aspect and it is one that is mentioned in the articles.

Balenciaga’s creative director, Demna Gvasalia, often known by his first name only, was set to receive Business of Fashion’s Global Voices Award next week, for “using his platform to interrogate socio-political issues and support marginalised people.”

This bit of information brings the human element back doesn't it? If he is doing humanitarian work, then it could have been some misunderstanding, right?

"Minor-attracted person" (MAP) is a term that is sometimes used to refer to individuals who experience sexual attraction to children or adolescents. This term is not widely accepted or used in the scientific or medical community but is used nonetheless, by those who perpetrate sexual acts against children, and some well meaning professionals seeking to be more inclusive, less discriminatory and more modern. Some of the groups or communities that would consider themselves as MAPS, have been known to use this terminology as a form of grooming, manipulation, and recruitment. They use this terminology to make it appear as if their attraction is an innate characteristic, like race or sexual orientation, and that it is something that cannot be changed. (Again, its worth noting that this term too has origins in the field of psychiatry)

Now let me ask you this, do you think peadohiles are marginalised? Obviously they are. Is this a human rights violation? The documentation in the photoshoot relates to freedom of speech! Knowing that we all justify ourselves with the reasoning of our mental models, as visible in drapetomania, and if you are able to empathise and place yourself in their shoes, is there anyway that you may be able to see (not agree) that perhaps from their perspectives, if their behaviours are related to "MAP" culture, the keywords support marginalised people, could hold two meanings? I'm not trying to say that is the case, but based on what I do know, I don't place it outside of possibility or probability. Makes it just a bit harder to find the truth, isn't it?

For all the years we attend school, we are trained that there are right answers and there are wrong answers. Very little is taught about the multiplicity of reality in that an answer can be both right and wrong, depending on context. Funny word isn't it, con-text, like the writings of a conman, can leave you quite baffled.

Did you think an article about Ethics and AI was going to be an easy read with clear answers?

Now let's look at another brand linked to Balenciaga in some ways, Adidas. I chose this because of topics I have already been familiar with in recent years, so can link certain things together to project an image of a current mental model I hold without spending too much time researching other topics that may be touched on in this article. Adidas has recently been on my mind as a key player in one narrative I'm addressing.

A couple of years ago (2017) Adidas dropped their "Elite" range of Predator 18+, significant because of a general term used to describe sex offenders - predators, and 18+ usual relates to adult content. Those are very loose things Candice, why do you tie them together?

This should all be considered from the perspective of the victims. Narratives mean different things to different people. This isn't school, there are no right or wrong answers, only reflections of interpretations, this is where cultural relativism comes in.

It's 2017 and Pizzagate is plastered all over the media. Conversations are going on about company logos and symbols related to Satanism and pedophilia, the story of Madeleine McCann resurfaces, the Me Too movement is at its height with many Hollywood personalities stepping forward and speaking out about sexual abuse, and Trump is sworn in as president, which comes with its own wide range of media including the famous grab a woman by the... coverage, not to mention the Epstein case.

Because of my own employment at Foot Locker, Adidas is a familiar brand for me and because of that, their campaigns is close to home. If I had been in another industry, the brands may have been different, but as I said, context is key. 2017 was really a year in which my awareness of just how much narratives impact our lives started and why I included the Predator campaign. This is just the ad that popped to mind, but I can tell you, at the time, and in hindsight every other time, there are countless ads and campaigns like this. To unaffected people they have one meaning and less impact, to another it ties in on another level that affects their lives immensely.

Sure, I'd learned about Bernays in 2005, and I had a module on ethics while studying law in 2004, as well as when I studied multimedia design around 2007, but it didn't hit home, it didn't sink in, until those topics hit home and my eyes opened to a new light.

We don't know what we don't know, and unless you have been in this situation, it's fair to assume that I could never actually convey the truth about being in this position to you in a way that you may appreciate fully or understand wholesomely. For as much as possible I ask you to put yourself in the victim's shoes and walk along as we go through some key points of this timeline and relay the message. An oxymoron of a request if ever there was one.

Now let's continue on and speed it up by highlighting a few headlines of each year that I can remember from the top of my head. If you are not a woman, and or you have never experienced abuse, it may be more challenging to understand the true impact of just these headlines, and as such I must accept that not everyone will get it and that that is okay, because in this article I will not be able to anyways.


Women are speaking up + there is hope

Weinstein I Epstein I Trump - powerful offenders in charge

Pizzagate - uncertainty


Karen movement - counters women speaking up in Me too movement

Women speaking about abuse are emotional because of the nature of abuse and what abuse does to a human, remorseless male offenders shooting down emotionally pleading females.

What happened to Dubai's Princess Latifa? - rising awareness of how mental illness is used as an excuse by offenders on many levels coincidentally I was in Dubai i n 2018 and the events surrounding that made it feel more personal.

2019 / 2020

Covid - Isolation & separation, disconnect from society

Domestic abuse up 25% -

Domestic abuse killings 'more than double' amid Covid-19 lockdown -


“Landmark moment” as Domestic Abuse Bill introduced to Parliament +

Biden Admin Replaces 'Mothers' With 'Birthing People' in Maternal Health Guidance -


Roe v Wade: US Supreme Court ends constitutional right to abortion -


Tory MPs to push for UK exit from European convention on human rights -

I would like you to think about the ethical implications of these narratives, what it means from a vulnerable persons' perspective, where do you think we can mark ourselves as a collective human race on the ethical scale.

What is the picture you get? If you had been the victim, what confirmations would you be reading in all of this? This is just a few global headlines, now add that to a more focussed region like a specific country, which I will do below using my experience.

I, myself a foreigner in a different country who has been in a vulnerable position after my divorce and becoming a single mother, in a country which many claim has little regard for human rights as historically demonstrated through the slave trade and current affairs that may send shockwaves through any existing intelligence to know, but which I will not mention here because, well if you know, you know, and if you don't be grateful for the bliss, but here are a few headlines that may indicate at the bigger picture.

Netherlands among worst nations for human trafficking, but number of reports declining - over 80% of the people trafficked globally ends up in the Netherlands.

Stop the abuse of power in youth care, give the right to a fair trial by judges - false information is wildfire here and the judiciary system turns a blind eye

Awareness about the abuse of parents and children through abuse of power and fabrications of events by "professionals" and the lawyer who lost her job defending them on the basis of questioning the fairness and ethics behind the true reflection of the status quo - to reason about ethical implications and human emotion is not accepted. No empathy allowed.

The childcare benefits scandal: voices of the victims

Polish court protects Dutch family who fled the Netherlands with their autistic son

Netherlands violates nationality rights: UN rights committee

Popular Dutch psychologist Diederik Stapel found to be a fraud - I've witnessed the falsification of information in several cases.

Dutch child care subsidies scandal exposes country's systematic xenophobia, Turkophobia - rot op naar je eigen land is a term many white skinned people also hear here, it's not skin colour or religion related only.

Report finds massive fraud at Dutch universities

8% of researchers in Dutch survey have falsified or fabricated data - this makes 64 000 researchers by the way.

A benefits scandal sinks the Dutch government - Prime minister resigns.

AI: Decoded: A Dutch algorithm scandal serves a warning to Europe — The AI Act won’t save us - supporting evidence that there may be an internal reason why the Dutch government victimises families and how relevant!

Dutch gov't to admit to constitutional racism at Tax Authority

The Netherlands is building a surveillance state for the poor, says UN rights expert

Up to 250,000 names were on tax office’s fraud ‘black list’ - this especially felt near to me as I have at one point asked a tax office employee once if they had a note on their screens telling them to mistreat me.

Data theft & exploitation by tax authorities and their employees - note the comment section

Expats found to be particularly vulnerable to Dutch telephone scams - scams are perpetrated by highly educated individuals, who use the dark web to gather information that can be used to carry out scams.

Sex discrimination in the Dutch workplace is still a thing: study

About 400 cases of abusive workplace behavior in Dutch creative sector reported in 2022

Amersfoort man arrested for making deepfake porn of TV host Welmoed Sijtsma

Police often discourage victims from reporting domestic violence: report

Now after ALL that content, what are the thoughts that came to your mind? How much of that is reactive and on what level?

As already clearly outlined above with the Drapetomania case, lack of empathy can greatly affect our reasoning models and ethics, so this could be a good exercise to test yours.

How much of that perception or opinion has been shaped by stakeholders who may need you behave as you do to further political and profit driven agendas? Remember Bernays, and make sure to really synthesize what manipulating public opinion really means. The most relevant case is how a great deal of women were persuaded to become smokers.

The Torches of freedom campaign is a perfect example of how narratives, using positive words even, can persuade humans to behave in ways that benefit others while doing or taking damage to oneself. Maybe smoking is good for us? But if you believe modern medicine, you may be convinced that smoking is bad for humans. How ethical is this case? This still happens everywhere today in many forms, but the most obvious is green washing and dual narratives.

What evidently complicates matters more is the fact that "the road to hell is paved with good intentions". As I'm writing this article, I am aware that by now, most have dropped off and only a few may still be reading. Two thirds of the remaining readers may use the learnings to replicate the behaviors and actions leading to the "problems", and only a select few are still reading because they "care".

Care" because it matters personally on some level, which is not always a good thing, but can be, - and it can be good and bad at the same time, or fluctuating as time progresses. An organisation using deceptive tactics may care because it may not be in their favour for other professionals or others to be aware of certain things.

"Care" also because it suggests emotion. Someone who has endured some injustice has a bigger vested interest in solving the causal factors and can get emotionally driven to act. Would you agree that there are certain biases within society regarding emotion? If you have studied business or academia of some sort, what is your opinion about emotion?

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.”

You're not part of the masses right? You are probably part of the favoured global 3% if you are reading this... which makes up only about 240 000 000 humans. A collective of two hundred and forty million can be considered a mass no? The tiny little 8% of researchers in the Netherlands who fabricate information is just a small part right? Can 64 000 humans be considered a mass? And that is of course only researchers and only the Netherlands, one of the smallest countries in the world.

I will 100% state with absolute confidence and truth that the percentage is the same or even much higher in other professions as I have witnessed with health care providers, governmental employees, those in the judiciary and legal systems, and most commonly noted, finance. What numbers does that total to? The biggest mass and most important of all, is the mass with the needs native to all live forms, those needs related to seeking survival.

More concerning about the researchers is that able professionals are building on fabricated information thinking that it is just and truthful. How much of our information / data has been compromised? How much of it can we trust, and if reality reflects suspisions, how far away are we from the Naked Emperor and the Matrix really?

While we are playing with numbers, here is a video for context. Every 1 person in this village would represent a staggering 64 000 000 (sixty four million) people.

Take into consideration that every 92 seconds, another person is sexually assaulted, how many of those people make up the vulnerable victim we've been trying to empathise with regarding the mentioned narratives? And yet despite this, we are still enabled legally to create content and media which not only affects them emotionally, normalise poor behaviour, discredit victims, etc, but we may even be celebrated for it. Again, just how ethical is the world and its systems that *WE* create daily through our behavioural output?

Coming back to the human center at the heart of this and the viewpoint we are addressing here, the perception of victimised humans, what do you think may be going on in a persons mind if they have been victimised, failed by the judiciary / legal system, medical and health care professionals, their governments and their society when these are the narratives sold? Imagine being a parent or actual victim of pedophelia, when confronted with the stories and visual communications, would you still view humans as an intelligent and mostly good life form?

The sheer volume and magnitude of destructive and unprincipled or unethical behaviour present in our everyday encounters, which may or may not be intentional, clearly demonstrates that we are poor performers when it comes to living the ideals we promote to signal at our value or importance as a species. Offended? Why? Why not?

A few days ago I read an article about a show that I have not watched, but understood the mechanics immediately. I will add a quote from the article below and invite you to read it. Comment below or send me your thoughts.

“When a woman shows anger in institutional, political, and professional settings, she automatically violates gender norms, she is met with aversion, perceived as more hostile, irritable, less competent, and unlikable.”

Do we see any links to Drapetomania here?

UX SDTF Empathy map

This is a simple map used by UX professionals to gain insight into users, you could replace the word user with human to change the dynamic and make it more meaningful in the context of ethics and human behavioural science.

For the SD part, we can record these metrics clearly to an extend (framing and biases deeply impact how we interpret - *Drapetomania case study), while the TF aspects are more challenging and because of this empathy goes a long way to help find the truth. Empathy is connection, relation and existential understanding. Therefore I would reason the say that empathy is is a core element when diving into the deep dark waters of ethics, knowing full well that TF is something that we can not ever really fully know outside of the human in the center experiencing it.

Now here is where we jump into the second topic of this article, AI. Our collective knowledge is thousands of years in the making. We understand a lot and can leverage the forces of nature to our advantage, achieve things which may seem impossible to any human just 200 years ago. And yet, we do not understand and are unable to explain the full being of emotion.

One of the saving factors of humanity in relation to existential experience and human rights factors has been, and is, emotion. "Positive" emotions such as empathy, reasonability, affection, and "negative" emotions including guilt, shame, disconnection, all play motivational roles in the output or behaviour of humans in all situations from business, government and education to spiritual and personal expressions.

If a human, company or organisation is dodgy and behaves poorly or conducts poor business, there is a chance that you may persuade them to desist by appealing to their human nature on an emotional level. This is a huge driving factor in why a collective may wish to eliminate emotion and create negative connotations to the perception thereof.

There are many areas in our existence where it's best to make decisions free from biased emotions, usually they relate to factual understanding such as required by a judge to create a fair verdict, or a person who is trying to determine whether a specific action or relation is in their best interest, but the factual is not always just or right. It is a fact that some men may over power some women and violate them to attain some sort of pleasure, but it's the emotion we value when determining offense.

What is of the utmost importance to remember when reflecting on the true vision of humanity in relation to ethics and AI, what Cecilia Scolaro said so brilliantly, is that AI is learning from us. All of our faults are captured by AI, but AI does not have the total capacity the human has, and while the human may be able to make judgements based on a wide range of sensual criteria including emotion, AI only relies on 1s & 0s. This begs the question, what kind of role models are we?

In case you missed it, here is a recording of the event.

During this session Claudia Muller from Ladies that UX Amsterdam, who moderated the event, asked 6 questions that are relevant for UX professionals.

I'm working on publishing all the answers from all the panel members in the coming weeks, but in the meantime here are my thoughts.

1. There is a big hype around ChatGPT these days. Fears, hopes. What is, in your eyes, the discussion we really should have as UX professionals when talking about ChatGPT or, in a broader context, AI?

ChatGPT is not anything new and there are plenty of other AI systems that are often even more specifically geared towards solving problems. When I started Design in Focus, I looked into many solutions to help me build the dream. Having been through a couple of rough years, I had no budget to hire the people I need to get to where I'd like to go. Using certain AI systems could by large save a lot of money. But what stopped me from using these products? 1. the cost, 2. awareness of data exploitation.

While we are at the same cross roads that creative painters faced when photography arrived, or laundry washers when the washing machine came out, or any other originally manmade solution we've innovated, leading to job security fears, there is one major difference. The difference being the potential and capacity to reach a great deal of humans on a personal level and enforce tyranny on aan unprecedented scale. For me the question we should really really be asking is how important we really are despite what we may think.

It's no secret that some tech companies have been exploiting our data and many of our peers have used human data to their sole advantage. At a certain stage of my life I was surrounded by many tech "nobles" who were on top of the world and untouchable, and we partied like it was 1983. Good timez, but sometimes frustrating when attempting to have serious conversations about the implications of what was happening, and somewhere along the line I heard someone say "why concern yourself about sheeple, we are the winners". Well now, what's happening to all the winners, getting laid off?

I know, writing that was terrible, but intentionally done so as to leverage the mechanism that makes click bait so effective, to get you to react. I'm sure many good people, who had nothing to do with the dark patterns in business, lost their jobs, and can not be blamed. What I'd like for you to consider is the in group out group mechanics of society. What if you "got cancelled", and what if you became systematically oppressed? What keeps you protected or cements your privilege?

<- Case study

Teacher Jane : Blue eyes, brown eyes experiment

A class divided

Case study ->

Sandford Prison Experiment

Stanford Prison Experiment

When tyrants historically and currently rise to power, society rises and attacks it. From very ancient history to just a few centuries ago, those seeking to position themselves as uncontested authority have always innovated mechanisms to ensure their safety from the angry mobs. From castles to walled cities, strong barriers always sought to keep out unwanted humans. With technology and AI, how can we protect ourselves from unpeterable parasitic ecosystems.

If for example they are sitting on an island somewhere others cannot access, they control our behaviour, and there is no way of making them care? Is this really a far fetched idea? Here in the Netherlands supermarkets are installing self scan tills and has cut store workers drastically. With AI & automation the can cut all human workers and it's only a matter of time until we do. If there are no accessible humans we can hold accountable, how can we ensure that our food sources remain unthreatened? Do you think we can be controlled through food sources? Have you ever experienced real hunger or starvation?

In the past we would have revolutions and uprisings. In the modern world this ability is being systematically eradicated. So as humans, professionals, designers, in the broadest context of AI, first and foremost, we must ask ourselves, who are we truly? When this question is at the heart of what we question, all other considerations will fall into place.

*UPDATE : I found this very interesting article and would highly recommend reading it. Seriously, read it!

One day I may (be able to) share my own downfall linked "tech bros" regarding conceptualising a new business & business model with an app a few years ago which resulted in years of hell. Briefly it was a corporate footprint tracker that could be used by everyone to not only measure the supermarket products they bought but also provide local or better products giving consumers the ability to control corporations and support the growth of small business owners. The organisation was a two part structure with one side working on the app and data, and the other with governments, professionals and institutions. The nightmare that ensued proved to me that the only reason we are not solving world problems is because a couple of delusional dirtbags hinder progress through abuse. I have no doubt that we can actually fix shit, and the only reason we are not creating, innovating and designing better, is because of the tyranny of these types of parasites. They know all about revolutions and that they are set to walk the same road the nobles did when heads started rolling in Europe.

2. What are the new challenges we can expect as UX professionals from technology like AI?

For me this is a little bit like asking what challenges a finance professional can expect from a calculator. UX professionals like finance professionals play different roles and have different job functions.

To get to an answer here, I think, we should consider a few things.

  1. Scale - traditional calculator vs calculating system (AI)

  2. Position - accountant vs financial forecaster

  3. Authority - the individual vs a collective

  4. Complexity - adding numbers together to get an answer vs strategy

Transdlated to UX that could look like this:

  • a.) A 1. Simple AI tool that 2. aids a UX designer to 3. design and interface for 4. a small business owner.

  • b.) An 1. AI system that 2. aids a UX strategist to 3. plan a journey for 4. blue eyed people.

  • c.) A 1. Complex AI system that enables 2. UX abusers to 3. analyse complex human behaviour & return "products" and "services" that 4. modify human behaviours in service of singular interests.

To answer this question, we must consider a lot of variables and so it becomes very complex very quickly.

3. What would you say is the role of AI in creative processes?

Claudia Mayer recently posed this question and :

77% voted 💡 Provide ideas/inspiration

34% voted 🖹 Generate copy/content

3% voted 🔍 Research user/context

7% 💭 Other (please comment)

I was one of the 77%.

Checkout the post to read more interesting perspectives.

I would reason to say that the role of AI in the creative process largely relies on what we are creating for.

4. How would you say our work changes as UX professionals when thinking of technology and ethics?

I would say the vast majority of UX professionals work with tech. Whether it's digital like a website or app, or it's physical such as a washing machine or car dashboard, we are mostly tech centered professionals. Above I have shared many thoughts on ethics and I have a ton more that cannot be addressed in one article. I've highlighted words and sentences in this article and provided many links. Ethics can be very challenging especially when many follow the "competition" without understanding what they are doing. Inclusivity and user centered design for example, sound like ethical principles, but the ethical implications of designing inclusive and delightful experiences for "MAPS" within family friendly products, raises a few fundamental questions.

5. Technology develops rapidly and as UX professionals, we have to learn continually. What would you say are the tools or skills we need to learn?

One thing we must 100% actively work on is seeing the bigger picture. Many of these tools solve some problems, but think how they link together and how someone experiencing luxury mindset may abuse them.

Remaining dynamic. That is the number one skillset for any designer, including UX designers. I can't say too much about any other UX profession because my main focus is design, but I would highly recommend that UX researchers do not fall into that 8% group that fabricates research results as it demonstrates a great lack as both a professional and in character, and the consequences can cause a great deal of mistakes. For UX conversational designers I would suggest imagining what it would be like to be part of the masses in tech being laid off. If you are designing a conversation that restricts people, what would you do if the shoe was on the other foot?

Now for the tools. I'm far from an expert and these are just the tools that I've peeked into, so I'm sure you can find more extensive information from dedicated professionals such as Demis Hassabis, who co-founded DeepMind, Andrej Karpathy, Tesla, Ruben Hassid, founder AI Chat, Dr Joerg Storm, accomplished futurist, and Andrew Ng, co-founder and head of Google Brain. There is really a long list of people, but starting with these three will definitely pull you into the "new world" of AI and set you on course to discover relevant developments.

What's important to note is that every type of design and UX professional will find different value and tools, the listed tools are mostly related to my focus points, Corporate Identity and User Experience.

Figma, Balsamiq & InVision if you are a designer and not familiar with these tools, then probably your learning curve is going to be massive. These have been around for a couple of years and there are endless plugins and tools that rely on AI.

ChatGPT : Bing will be leveraging ChatGPT features in the future and all Microsoft apps will have AI integrations. While it's not there yet, I'm willing to bet the next few years will reveal some interesting developments. Checkout this article on how ChatGPT compared with Google.

Midjourney : I see a lot of AI generated images on my LinkedIn feed. I must admit that I find much of it beautiful, but in just a short time I can tell AI art apart from real art to a large degree. So, nothing will not stop people from using AI art which is cheaper and faster that's true, but when we group images in the same category, they lose their unique identity. As an Identity Experience designer, I think brand identity goes a long way in creating brand success.

The general user may produce a lot of the same stuff, but that changes when you train the system with your own styles. So, to leverage the power of visual generative tools such as Midjourney, the average person may have a steep learning curve and must invest quite some time to produce something unique and exciting. For large companies this will probably less of a factor. This is a perfect example of thinking in context. How does it polarise the "haves" and the "have nots".

Here are some graphics I've been collecting since starting this article. I did lose a few links, but you can view more in most cases.

Some other tools that I'm aware of but have not explored yet are :

Adobe sensei - UX - user research - UI - user testing - audio to editorial content - mockups - colour theory

Illustroke - SVG visual content - editorial content

Dall-E-2 - visual content - conversation design - video content - text to speech - text bot - audio content - audio content - branded visual content - patterns visual content - stock images visual content - video content - multimedia content - video content - marketing

Github Copilot - for those few designers who still code. I have not tried it yet, but asm excited to start when time allows me to.

*UPDATE : This is a far more relevant and interesting article by Stephanie Kabi which structures the tools more usefully.

For more general AI tools, see this post by Dr Joerg Storm including 43 tools.

*UPDATE : In the name of Pedia, look into the future, here is the AI Futurepedia.

I have not installed it yet because I must still verify if I trust it, but there is an extension that may be useful for the creative people here. (Extensions can be deceitful, so always be careful when adding them)

6. How can we design for good (responsible) in your eyes, thinking of all the new challenges we have to face?

Critical analysis & Pattern recognition will be key to making better choices. I've heard it a million times, party pooper, overly critic, "whistle blower", and it's true, we have become too focussed on "remaining positive", "living our best lives" and ignoring realities and threats. When you are asked to design something new, make sure you know what you're doing.

This is a super hard question to answer because from my experience, if you really really do actually give a F@#% and do the right thing, you may end up like me, and that is not anything I would wish for any good person.

I wonder if my platform will survive the publication of this article, because of what I've endured and know to be true of a great deal of "professionals" and "companies" these days. I've lived in utter terror and fear for quite a few years now, so it's just another day in the life of Candice Storm.

Better people to ask include Cecilia Scolaro & Marieke Peeters. Read this article by Cecilia, and connect with her and others who can help you do better.

What are the externalities of AI and why do they matter for designers? - Cecilia Scolaro

I also suggest that you join the Ethical Design Network that was founded by Trine Falbe and join their slack group. Follow Cecilia and Marieke and people like Tiziana d'Agostino, Hayley Jackson, Michelle Scott, Alex Moldovan, Alexandra Zapata, Youngji Cho, Rita Moreira, Martha Kellerhals, Dhiraj Shelke, Dean Kruger, Hannah Covacic, Christopher Reardon, Floor van der Wal, Esther van Eden, Caroline Overgoor, and Thorsten Jonas to mention a few. I will add more names in the comments section and ask you to do so too.

Also let us know what you think, if you have something to say or can help build a better reflection, why not participate in a multimedia content pice? We can create a podcast, web show, publish an article like this, or add some infographics.

If you would like to collaborate to create more content and events, or work on any other something together, we can collaborate.

To stay up to date, you can hit subscribe or become a member on this platform. It's free and we do not use or abuse any personal data in any way. You determine what you post online and can hide your account by making it private. To keep delivering value and making impact, we rely on donations and are seeking volunteers.

And finally, if you are interested in supporting this article and theme or any other Design in Focus effort, please become a sponsor.

How do you create awareness without inspiring the weakest of our kind to replicate the same mistakes? To me, that is one question that must be answered.

I am going to finish this article now, but if you would like more, the next one will tie some dots together, if it ever gets to be published and seen, with existing criteria including deep fake tech, neuralink, AB tech, NLP, dark psychology / business / design as well as dissect some major trends and developments in which all is not as they appear.

To end I will leave you with two pieces of content.

1. To make you think, a post by Julia DeBari, which I ask you to reflect on in context to what has been written here :

We talk a lot about DEI in tech. There are ERGs (Employee Resource Groups). There are company initiatives. There are statements of purpose. There are company reports. I remember reading Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez in 2019. After reading that book, I was ready to leave tech. And it's not just about tech. With the advent of ChatGPT and other AI models, I decided to do a little test. I asked Google, Bing, and ChatGPT, "Which international soccer player has scored the most goals?" Both Google and Bing said the answer was Cristiano Ronaldo. ChatGPT said, "As of my knowledge cutoff date of September 2021, the international soccer player who has scored the most goals is Ali Daei of Iran, with a total of 109 goals in 149 appearances for the Iranian national team between 1993 and 2006. However, it's worth noting that this record may have since been broken or updated, as players continue to compete and break records over time." None of these answers is correct. The correct answer is Christine Sinclair, a woman from Canada. In fact, you have to go down 7 places on the women's leaderboard until a man would show up. Granted, I know nothing about soccer or really any sport. But the fact is that when searching for data, men come first. In the book, there are so many examples of this. It is utterly horrifying. Please, please think critically about where your information comes from and think about why bias may be attached.

And 2. for a bit of lighthearted (albeit what it is) fun with professionals playing with AI.

Thanks for reading. If you would like to join this discussion, you can request membership and join the forum where we have a topic feed which you can find here :

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