Fontys

Technology Impact Cycle Tool

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Depending on the technology you are assessing, some categories are more important than others. Here you can indicate how important you think this category is for this technology.
If this category is not applicable for this technology, please select 'Yes.'

(Only the gray shaded text is printed on the Quick Scan canvas)

Can you exactly define what the challenge is? What problem (what 'pain') does this technology want to solve? Can you make a clear definition of the problem? What 'pain' does this technology want to ease? Whose pain? Is it really a problem? For who? Will solving the problem make the world better? Are you sure? The problem definition will help you to determine and discuss what problem exactly you are solving and if it is a problem worth solving.

(This question is part of the Quick Scan)

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. Also the app will connect grandchildren to the grandparents they never knew. The Griefbot partly solves that problem by enabling a conversation with a deceased parent of grandparent.
Often there is a tendency to simplify a problem, so that it can be technically solved. Are you sure that the technology is solving the real problem? Are you sure that you are not only addressing the symptoms? Is this technology really the right solution for the problem? Did you try to find the deeper issues? Did you use the five whys technique (see frameworks below?).

An example: Griefbot

The app 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 extra 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 has enough pain. Would you say to someone who lost someone that they should not look at photo's? Also, we like to point out that the app is not the right solution for everyone, but it can be a solution for a lot of people.
Can you describe how the technology is going to solve the problem? 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? Did you research it? Are you going to evaluate the outcomes in the future?

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. However, 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 it on a lot of users. Based on feedback we are constantly improving the AI. Sometimes it makes a mistake, but this is also good. It is important that sometimes users are remembered that it is not a real person that they are chatting with. As more and more people use our app for longer periods, we believe that the data-input will become better and better. In the future we will have people that talked to our app for decades. Their digital representation, especially as AI also improves, as a Griefbot will be near perfect. 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. People are unpredictable and as a result, often so is technology. Can you think about possible negative effects? Did you brainstorm to try and find such effects? Are there expected negative effects that you accept? If so, can you explain why?

An example: Griefbot

Negative effects that we expect and sometimes already have experienced are the following: Some people will get hooked to their Griefbot and have trouble getting back to real life. 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. One day 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 this, listen to his Griefbot. Maybe people will think of people not using our app when alive as really, really egoïstic. Maybe in the future it will be frowned upon if you do not use a Griefbot, because you are robbing your lost ones of an opportunity.
Describe the impact of the technology on the daily lives of people, in the short term and in the long term. Discuss how the technology, in a broader sense than solely the problem at hand, impacts 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 this 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. You have a lot of people that write their memoires or record videotapes fot their loved ones to be read/seen when they are dead. We are adding another advanced possibility to this. 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 creepy, they can choose not to use it.

(Only the gray shaded text is printed on the Improvement Scan canvas)

If you think about the real problem this technology is going to solve. If you think about the ability of this technology to solve the real problem. If you think about possible negative effects and whether this technology will contribute to a world you want to live in. If you think about all that, what improvements would you make? In technology? In context? In use? The answers on questions 1-5 help you to gain insight into the impact of this technology on society. The goal of these answers is not to provide you with a 'go' or ' no go' - decision. The goal is to make you think HOW you can improve the impact of this technology. This can be by making changes to the technology or making changes to the context in which the technology is used, or making changes in the way the technology is used.

(This question is part of the Improvement Scan)

An example: Griefbot

People can get hooked to a Griefbot. That is why we allow users to set restrictions and we give them information on usage - time. Also, we believe that the Griefbot should only be used by the people very close to the deceased. That is why we give control to the user of the app (when alive) who can uase it after he/she dies. We also learned that our users need real human connection. That is why we created a community of Griefbot users.
Are you satisfied with the quality of your answers? The depth? The level of insight? Did you have enough knowledge to give good answers? Give an honest assessment of the quality of your answers.

Videos & Clips

Evgeny Morozov on Solutionism
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOvaNzIxz54)
Moralizing Technology (TedxTalk by Peter Paul Verbeek)
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=26&v=S8a1DascnZg&feature=emb_logo)

Books & Papers

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)
Mensvoort, Koert (2013). A paper on the Pyramid of Technology
(https://pure.tue.nl/ws/files/3805415/760124.pdf)
Mensvoort, Koert. Next Nature. Book on technology and nature
(https://www.mensvoort.com/home/next-nature-book-2)
Morozov, Evgeny. To Save Everything Click Here. Book on solutionism
(https://www.amazon.com/Save-Everything-Click-Here-Technological/dp/1610393708)
Tenner, Edward. Why Technology Bites Back (1997)
(https://www.bol.com/nl/f/why-things-bite-back-technology-and-the-revenge-of-unintended-consequences/30428782/)

Frameworks

Five Whys Technique (to find deeper issues)
(https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_5W.htm)
Sustainable Development Goals by Unesco
(https://en.unesco.org/sustainabledevelopmentgoals)
Ethics for Designers (toolkit by Jet Gispen)
(https://www.ethicsfordesigners.com/)
Tarot Cards of Tech
(https://www.artefactgroup.com/case-studies/the-tarot-cards-of-tech/)
Ethical Tool from Kennisnet (in Dutch)
(https://ethiekkompas.kennisnet.nl/)