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.
Can you imagine ways that the technology can or will be used to break the law? Think about invading someone's privacy. Spying. Hurting people. Harassment. Steal things. Fraud/identity theft and so on. Or will people use the technology to avoid facing the consequences of breaking the law (using trackers to evade speed radars or using bitcoins to launder money, for example).
If this technology registers personal data you have to be aware of privacy legislation and the concept of privacy. Think hard about this question. Remember: personal data can be interpreted in a broad way. Maybe this technology does not collect personal data, but can be used to assemble personal data. If the technology collects special personal data (like health or ethnicity) you should be extra aware.
To help you answer this question think about sub questions like:
- If two friends use your product, how could it enhance or detract from their relationship?
- Does your product create new ways for people to interact?
- Does your product fill or change a role previously filled by a person?
- Can the technology be perceived as stigmatising?
- Does the technology imply or impose a certain belief or world view?
- Does the technology affects users' dignity?
- Is the technology in line with the person the user wants to be perceived as?
- Does the technology empower people? In what way?
- Does the technology change people? In what way?
When thinking about the stakeholders, the most obvious one are of course the intended users, so start there. Next, list the stakeholders that are directly affected. Listing the users and directly affected stakeholders also gives an impression of the intended context of the technology.
There are a lot of stakeholders that are obvious (like users) but we invite you also to think about the less obvious ones. Missing a stakeholder can have great consequences.
For the quick scan it is not necessary to describe how the stakeholders are affected, but later it helps to think about further questions. Questions like: Can you write down in a few words in what manner the users or stakeholders will be affected by this technology? You can limit yourself to the main / core effect (you think) this technology will have on the stakeholders. Did you really consult a stakeholder? Did you consult all stakeholders listed or did you assume the position of some stakeholders? Are you going to take the stakeholder into account? Do you think you should take all stakeholders into account? Are there any conflicting interests between groups of stakeholders? How will you resolve these conflicts?
There are fundamental issues with data. For example:
- Data is always subjective;
- Data collections are never complete;
- Correlation and causation are tricky concepts;
- Data collections are often biased;
- Reality is way more complex than a million datapoints;
Are you aware of these issues? How does the technology take these issues into account?
We strongly recommend to do crash course four to properly understand the pitfalls and shortcomings of data (and it is fun!).
Do a brainstorm. Can you find a built-in bias in this technology? Maybe because of the way the data was collected, either by personal bias, historical bias, political bias or a lack of diversity in the people responsible for the design of the technology? How do you know this is not the case? Be critical. Be aware of your own biases.
Tip: pretend the opposite of your assumptions about your core user are true - how does that change your product?
- Is it easy for users to find out how the technology works?
- Can a user understand or find out why your technology behaves in a certain way?
- Are the goals explained?
- Is the idea of the technology explained?
- Is the technology company transparent about the way their business model works?
One of the most prominent impacts on sustainability is energy efficiency. Consider what service you want this technology to provide and how this could be achieved with a minimal use of energy. Are improvements possible?
Discuss this quickly and note your first thoughts here. Think about what happens when 100 million people use your product. How could communities, habits and norms change?