University of Notre-Dame & IBM Tech Ethics Lab CFP Award

The Pranava Institute has been awarded the University of Notre-Dame and IBM Tech Ethics Lab CFP Award for the project 'A Manual of Ethical UX Design Principles'.

About the Project

Modern UX principles are limited in the sense that they can influence as well as predict user’s behaviour while on a digital platform. However, they do not take into account the user’s overall interface with the physical world or even the user’s mental, physical and emotional wellbeing in the digital realm. For example, many social media platforms are designed with Aza Raskin’s ‘infinite scroll’ as a core feature. This one feature has been widely adopted by social media, e-commerce, and OTT platforms. While vastly ‘improving’ user experience on the platform, it has been one of the major factors behind social media overuse and addiction, leading to loneliness and depression. Mr Raskin himself apologised to the public in 2019 stating he “designed the service to create the most seamless experience possible for users, but did not foresee the consequences.” This, and many design choices (gamification for instance) warrant the need for new ethical principles which serve as fundamentals to keep in mind while creating new digital experiences. As we move forward in the 21st Century, we are blurring the lines between the physical and digital worlds. It is therefore pertinent to reinvent user experience to aid and improve life both online or offline.


This project aims to understand which design choices promote dark patterns, and may have long-term, multi-sided harms baked into them. At a conceptual level, the fundamental challenge is to find the ethical line between persuasion and dark patterns, given that its widespread application has fundamentally changed user behaviour in its favour. We attempt to engage in multidisciplinary research to create a manual of ethical UX design principles which keeps the human at the centre, and takes into account not just metrics like performance, but also behavioural, cognitive and emotional wellbeing. We seek to engage deeply with research in the fields of design, cognitive science, social theory and psychology; and finally bring together a community of designers to apply these principles in real-world use-cases.


See the announcement here.



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