Technology Impact Cycle Tool

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If this category is not applicable for this technology, please select 'Yes'.
Your technology is probably designed to solve a problem. That is why it is important to exactly know which problem you are going to solve. Can you make a crisp and clean definition of the problem? What 'pain' do you want to ease? Whose pain is it? The answers and the definition will help you to determine and discuss if you are really solving the right problem.

An example: Griefbot

The purpose of the Griefbot is to reduce suffering for relatives or friends of a deceased person. We believe that - especially with tragic and sudden deaths - there is incredible pain by relatives and friends. The Griefbot is an advanced way of looking at photos or listening to that one voicemail. We believe accepting death is easier if you can have a conversation with your deceased loved one. Furthermore we believe that there a lot of people who never knew their parents or grandparents. The Griefbot partly solves that by enabling a conversation with a deceased parent of grandparent.
In technology there is a tendency to simplify a problem, so that it can be technically solved. Are you sure you are solving the real problem with technology? Are you sure you are not only addressing symptoms? Is technology really the right solution for the problem? Did you try to find the deeper issues? Did you consider using the five whys technique (see frameworks below?)

An example: Griefbot

We understand that we can never replace a real life person. However The Griefbot does not strive to do that. The purpose of the Griefbot is to ease suffering. We do understand that sometimes it is better to let go or to talk to relatives or friends instead of to a Griefbot. However we think this are choices to be made by the users. We are just offering an option to ease suffering. We also try to build a community, so that relatives can help each other and find support with one another. This way the Griefbot also fuels more and better human connection. We understand that sometimes suffering is good and helps. However we think a person that is confronted by a tragic death experiences already enough pain. Would you say to someone who lost someone that they should not look at photo's?
Your technology is going to solve a problem but do you know how? Can you explain what characteristics lead to the solution of the problem? Are you sure it is going to work? Why? Are you sure it really works? How do you know? Did you test it? Is it grounded in theory? How are you going to evaluate the outcomes?

An example: Griefbot

The quality of the solution is dependent on the quality of the data trail. More data means that the Griefbot will act more like the deceased person. The goal of the Griefbot is to ease suffering. Therefore it is enough that the Griefbot reminds someone of the deceased love one. It does not have to be perfect. We use AI to train the Griefbot to act like the deceased based on the data. We know that this works. We have tested in on a lot of users. Based on feedback we are constantly improving on the AI. Sometimes it makes a mistake, but this is also good. It is important that sometimes users know it is not a real person that they are chatting with. We understand that people behave differently on the internet than in real life. This reflects the Griefbot. However when you talk to the Griefbot, the training continues, so the Griefbot evolves during use. We have a lot of users that tell us that the Griefbot eases the suffering. This makes us very happy and we are constantly alert on improving.
Technology often bites back. It has the tendency to create negative effects you would not expect because of unpredictable user behaviour. Can you think about possible negative effects? Did you brainstorm to find effects? Are there negative effects that you accept? And can you explain why?

An example: Griefbot

We are thinking about negative effects all the time. During brainstorm we thought of the following. Maybe some people will get hooked to their Griefbot and have trouble getting back to real life. Maybe some people will get into trouble with their relatives. For example one sister does not want their father to be a Griefbot and the other sister uses it all the time. Maybe the Griefbot will be too good, so the memory of death person will be replaced by an irrealistic digital version. Maybe the Griefbot will be used in heated arguments. Dad would not have approved, look here. Maybe people will think of not being online as really, really egoïstic. Now it is a personal choice not to use social media, but maybe in the future it will be frowned upon, because you are robbing your lost ones of a Griefbot.
Describe the impact of this innovative technology on daily lives of people, on the short term and on the long term. Discuss how the innovation, in a broader sense than solely the problem at hand, impacts human values and society. Does the technology comply with your personal and/or professional values? Does it create a society you want to live in? A lot of professions have their own set of values like codes of conducts and ethical guidelines. Did you check? Does your technology comply? And how about your own set of values? Does the technology comply with what you think is right?

An example: Griefbot

Very much. We like to live in a world where technology enables people to freely make choices. If a loved one dies, we believe it is fantastic that you can choose to have a conversation with a Griefbot. If this helps you, we want to help you. We think death is often random and unfair. We want to live in a world that is a bit more fair and has a bit less suffering. The Griefbot helps with that. If people think a Griefbot is scary, they can choose not to use it.
Have you thought about the challenge at hand? The 'pain' you want to solve? Are you sure that you are solving the right problem? Or are you only fighting symptoms? Did you ask WHY often enough? Are you sure your technology is going to solve the problem? Do you expect any negative effects? How are you going to mitigate them? And in what way is your technology contributing to a world you want to live in? The answers on questions 1-5 help you decide if you want to make improvements to your technology. These improvements you can list under question 6

An example: Griefbot

During the brainstorm we learned that people can get hooked to a Griefbot. That is why we now allow users to set restrictions and we give them information on usage - time. During earlier sessions we learned that the Griefbot should only be used by the people very close to the deceased. That is why you can only use it when you know the passwords and have a death certificate. We also learned about our users needing real human connection. That is why we created a community of Griefbot users.

The challenge - people, society, earth

Unesco - Sustainable Development Goals
(https://en.unesco.org/sustainabledevelopmentgoals)

Side effects of technology

Evgeny Morozov on Solutionism
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOvaNzIxz54)

Ethics and Technology

Ethical Operating System
(https://ethicalos.org/)
Omydiar Network
(https://www.omidyar.com/)
4TU. Center for Ethics and Technology
(https://ethicsandtechnology.eu/)
Poel I.vande & Royakkers, L. (2011) Ethics, Technology and Engineering. Wiley-Balckwell
(https://www.wiley.com/en-us/Ethics%2C+Technology%2C+and+Engineering%3A+An+Introduction-p-9781444330953)
Philosophy Design Lab Twente
(https://ppverbeek.org/)
Moralizing technology (TEDx Peter-Paul Verbeek)
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=26&v=S8a1DascnZg&feature=emb_logo)

Frameworks

Five Whys Technique (to find deeper issues)
(https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_5W.htm)