RI Columns Chapter 7

What is the key to innovation's success?

Creating a funky-looking innovation seems like a good idea, but will it sell?

Creating a funky-looking innovation seems like a good idea, but will it sell?

Vintage Electric Car

Whenever a ‘sensitive’ innovation comes about, for example genetic modification or sending humans one a one-way trip to Mars, people freak out. This negative attitude towards radical changes can have truly damaging effects, for example the hydrogen cell powered car being an innovation failure due to the bad public reception. Therefore, one must consider the societal mindset before setting off to create a radical innovation – incremental innovations, on the other hand, are much more easily acceptable.

A really interesting demonstration of this principle can be seen in the electric car industry – the concept itself has been around for a very long time, almost 200 years! It initially had a bad rep since it was ‘too easy to operate’ for the gentlemen of that period of time, hence the internal combustion engine prevailed (range was also extremely short, battery technology was only being developed at the time). Since then there have been many attempts at making an electric car, which usually ended up failing, due to a simple reason – they were too funky and bizarre-looking. Tesla, the car manufacturer, managed to popularize the electric around a decade ago, by making the design very conventional, something people are used to seeing, one might call it ordinary. Their latest models look like any other car, albeit debatably with more thought put into its design. They have been a huge commercial success, because the general population is more likely to buy something not ‘out of the norm’. The funky-looking ones still sell (in limited quantities), but it’s mostly for the wow factor.

Tesla is selling thousands of cars due to their more traditional approach to design

 

This creates a very harsh environment for radical innovations, something Microsoft has experienced in the early 2000’s when they launched their first tablet computer, a concept which Apple popularized 10 years later! So, a radical innovation, which was the result of billions of dollars of investments, resulted in a commercial failure. Some say the reason iPad took this commercial success years later boils down to its aesthetic design and user-friendly interface, which is worth a mention.

The biggest problem with this societal reluctance to accept radical innovations is that some ideas cannot be expressed through the parallel incremental innovation. The question arises then, how do we make sure that a revolutionary innovative ideas are not overlooked by the public, and how do we guide them to success?

In essence, the answer is pure marketing. An innovation or a concept is as good as its marketing campaign! In order for the end consumer to ever get to know about something previously unknown to them is through a strategic marketing campaign. This is open to reader’s interpretation, as results of different strategies vary. Airbnb, which arguably revolutionized the renting industry worldwide, started off as a small company spam mailing people who rented apartments on Craigslist (surprisingly, it worked). Apple, with the introduction of the iPad, let the design speak for itself. Another interesting marketing strategy that startups utilize today is to show off their product subtly, without giving much information, and simply wait for the clients to call them back. This works well with very expensive or niche products [dronamics]. So, before you go on to create the ‘next iPad’, make sure you have an equally innovative approach to your product’s marketing – without it your product will likely not leave the paper it has been designed on.

 

 

Sources:

http://dronamics.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citicar

 

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Column 7 ‘Number #1 Value; don’t waste more time’

I really like talking about values because of this; it is so diverse. Everyone has different values and opinions. You can learn or not learn from each other. Values give us a safe feeling; we know what we like and how we will act when a dilemma comes up. But actually for me it mostly stops here. I know, it is bad, but values for me are more or less abstract principles and no more. Most of the time I don’t even think about a value when making a decision. Values are in my eyes a good excuse to wait with real action. During this course I realized we have to address all the issues and values, but...what’s next?

I really like talking about values because of this; it is so diverse. Everyone has different values and opinions. You can learn or not learn from each other. Values give us a safe feeling; we know what we like and how we will act when a dilemma comes up. But actually for me it mostly stops here. I know, it is bad, but values for me are more or less abstract principles and no more. Most of the time I don’t even think about a value when making a decision. Values are in my eyes a good excuse to wait with real action. During this course I realized we have to address all the issues and values, but...what’s next?

Don't waste more time.

Sustainability, oh yes! I really like sustainability, because saves the earth for future generations. Justice, that is vital nowadays! So much things are going wrong, justice is what we need. We talk about it with our friends, parents or fellow students. Why? Because the idea of talking about it makes us feel comfortable. We, as Responsible Innovation students, think about the future and its problems. We are great! And there it ends. We all got our ECTS, and go on with our study…or

Did we matter? The last few month we heard a lot about real societal and environmental issues. Those we cannot oversee anymore. It stuck to my mind that we in the Western world all know about this issues. We all talk about it. But still the majority of the people does not change. People like the status quo. Only when real change is needed, they change. Why would we think that we can solve all problems with just talking about values and issues?

Value Sensitive Design is in my eyes the solution! As future leaders we can address major problems in the world. Not only by talking about it, but also by making it concrete. In my third column ‘Innovation for Everyone’ I already gave some advice how to innovate, even in a small way. Values are the key to building or developing a sustainable future. As humans we all have different values, but I think we agree on this; we need to enjoy life, on a beautiful planet in love and care for each other. So, why don’t we just start with solving the problems we caused by our self? Value Sensitive Design
is the future tool for more product and service development.

Hopefully after this course the great and beautiful ideas we have do not stuck on the values. Values are extremely important when developing a new innovative and responsible product or service. The knowledge about it is in our hands. The will and creativity is in our brains. The only we thing we need is the value of: don’t waste more time.

I all wish you the best in the next couple of weeks of this minor. For me, I finished this minor. I really liked this course, because it is about us. It is about this world who needs responsible innovation. This key element is now ours. 

Greetings. 

Corné Smaal / Business Administration / Erasmus University 

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Is it possible to attach various conflicting values to only one design?

The value of a design is what it stands for and reflects within its direct environment. What if one design stands for multiple conflicting values? Does that result in a negative effect on its surroundings?

The value of a design is what it stands for and reflects within its direct environment. What if one design stands for multiple conflicting values? Does that result in a negative effect on its surroundings?

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The various stages that computer technology has gone through in the past 60 years, has shown the shift of human interest in technology and moral values as constraints, to the current state in which we welcome technology at the service of society. According to Prof. Jeroen van der Hoven, moral values can be expressed in engineering design, and we can impart the fruits of our ethical reflection – concerning sustainability, safety and privacy to the things we design and make. This ethical reflection concerns a specific focus on the moral values, preferences, and ideals that form human lives, which should be accommodated by computer systems. Building on this information I wonder whether these values can be translated into requirements, and if so how, in the case of my Student Project Group topic; Urban greening.

The three questions that are raised in the MOOC build up to the final correlation between technology and values. Questioning whether technology can embody values, what values we should include in the design process, and how these values are translated into requirements, gives a steady base to approach a topic such as Urban greening. The translation of values into design requirements interestingly enough exists of multiple methods. In order for a value such as safety, security or justice to be translated into a physical form, it needs certain intermediary  steps. These are called norms, which follow-up on values and allow design requirements to take form. In my topic the values exist of safety, health, security, sustainability and environment. In order for these values to find their place in the community that we strive for, we need to create norms that the inhabitants of a community can live by. For safety this could be; keep an eye out for your neighbour to promote social control, or for sustainability; do not litter and strive for an eco-friendly environment by taking care of mother nature. The presented norms facilitate the process of designing in the sense that reason can be given to the created technologies/designs, without directly linking them to values.

The urban greening project is, as are many projects, based on specific values that can be envisioned through the proper norms and requirements. The question that is raised is whether all values can be taken into account when creating designs, as there might be an agreement on relevant values yet a disagreement when it comes down to the hierarchal order in which these values should be placed. What we found in our project is that some designs can consider the needs of every possible stakeholder, respecting all of their personal values. The value sensitivity of this design becomes apparent when considering all of the reasons why stakeholders support the project. Families see the possibility for a safer and cohesive neighbourhood, the municipality strives for secure and sustainable communities, and environmental groups acknowledge the importance of greener societies. The combination of these values is what creates the motivation to support projects/designs such as urban greening. 

 

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Is providing Value Sensitive services, always a safe and ethical thing to do?

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Since January till August 2015, 17115 people in the Netherlands apply for asylum. 6096 Syrians and 5090 Eritreans. In July there has been a sharp grow in refugees from Syria, see figure 1. Worldwide there are 19,5  billion refugees, including 3,9 billion Syrians (VluchtelingenWerk, 2015).

We are dealing with a difficult ethical situation. We’re all human, we all have feelings and a need for safety. But what about the safety and privacy of our own people? Isn’t the safety of our own citizens the priority? I think it is not possible to help other people when you are not helping yourself first. We’re are now giving a service to the refugees, but is this service responsible enough for our own citizens?

As can be seen in the figure 2, the unemployment in the Netherlands doubled between 2008 and 2014. The amount of jobs decreased between 2008 and 2015 with a factor of 1,5. The amount of the long-term unemployed increased with 10% (CBS, 2015). Refugees must work at a certain moment, to earn money. So how could it be possible that refugees find jobs here, while the amount of jobs is low and with a lot of unemployment among the Dutch? I think this is not possible. How will our citizens feel when refugees are getting their jobs? I would be angry and I would have the feeling of injustice. The Dutch party VVD says: “They travel further to the Netherlands because the social facilities and the economic perspectives are the best here” (NRC, 2015) . The refugees pass by seven other countries while coming here, while the head goal of them is to be safe. We’re dealing with economic refugees by then. According to the VVD,  the facilities for the refugees must be retrenched to decrease the amount of refugees.

According to the Volkskrant (2015) and AD (2015) are woman in German asylum centers systematically threatened and raped. When I read this, it really scared me. If this is happening amongst their own people, what will happen with our European woman?

Although we must help the refugees because they are not safe in their own country, could letting them in our own country be a threat for the citizens, which is unfair for them. My conclusion is now: It seems much better to help the refugees in camps within their own region.  Because than they are not a danger for our own citizens and they will get what they need, which is safety.

It is our duty to help persons in need, but this cannot go at the expense of our own citizens. Always look to both sides.

 

CBS (2015). Arbeid en sociale zekerheid. Consulted at the 18th of October 2015, Retrieved from www.cbs.nl

NRC (2015). VVD: maak Nederland onaantrekkelijk voor vluchtelingen. Consulted at the 18th of October 2015, Retrieved from http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2015/10/10/zijlstra-vvd-maak-nederland-onaantrekkelijk-voor-vluchtelingen

VluchtelingenWerk (2015). Feiten & Cijfers. Consulted at the 18th of October 2015, Retrieved from http://www.vluchtelingenwerk.nl/feiten-cijfers

AD (2015) ‘Vrouw niet veilig’: Bende-oorlog en verkrachting in azc. Consulted at the 18th of October 2015, Retrieved from http://www.ad.nl/ad/nl/1013/Buitenland/article/detail/4143751/2015/09/17/Vrouw-niet-veilig-Bende-oorlog-en-verkrachting-in-azc.dhtml

Volkskrant (2015) Onder vluchtelingen zijn veel religieuze fanatici. Consulted at the 18th of October 2015, Retrieved from www.volkskrant.nl

 

 

 

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Trusting moral values

There are so many different people with different values. These values are influenced by different factors and can so be influenced by others. So can we then trust our values to use them in value sensitive design?

There are so many different people with different values. These values are influenced by different factors and can so be influenced by others. So can we then trust our values to use them in value sensitive design?

War is peace as a value, poster from the book 1984

What always blows my mind is that there are so many different people and that we all have different values. These values are mainly influenced by culture, media, environment, gender, religion and family. Our values are important to us, especially in decision making. This is also the case when looking at value sensitive design. A process in which products are designed through an iterative process in which the moral values are taken into account. This is seen as a step forward in innovation. What scares me though is the fact that we rely heavily on our values in this concept and use them in our design.

When do we actually know these values to be the right values to use in a design? These values we have can actually be given to us by others, through these factors that influence our values. So we may believe we have the right moral values but when are they and how do we now? For instance looking at the book 1984 of George Orwell the government controls all these factors so the people will have certain values they want people to have. These people actually think they have the right values but actually these values are there because of the government.

So what happens when these values are embedded in innovation. In the book 1984 for instance it could mean that designing new bombs would be a value sensitive design because the country is at war with bad people and eliminating these people is good. Another example is that the government is always right and people see this as an important value. So when the government says something different than they said in the past they have a design where all history is changed. I believe that this isn’t a good value and isn’t part of our moral values but these people in the book don’t know any better. Another example which made me think about these values in designing and innovation is about Robert Moses. He designed the overpasses on parkways in New York lower than the standard. Assumed is that he did this because in that way the white people with cars could drive through while the busses with often black people couldn’t. The value of white people being superior to black people was so embedded in the design of the infrastructure.

I think that value sensitive design can really be an improvement when looking at the process of innovations. I do believe that before we actually implement our values in the design we should be really sure that they are the right moral values. Although it may be very difficult to agree to what are the right moral values. As I said there are many different people and they all have different moral values. With some of these values we almost unanimously agree with each other but others can give heated discussions.

I think it is important in value sensitive design that all stakeholders are addressed and can decide on the values. Although this may raise more discussions with more people and different values, in this way society is best represented. The more people with different values, the more chance unjust values will be eliminated and the more right values will be taken into account.

I think we should encourage people in using value sensitive design and that we should use it ourselves as well. At the same time we should use value sensitive design with great care, for it can have great impact on society as the example of Robert Moses shows. Having all stakeholders involved in deciding which values are important in the design is a good way to start with carefully using value sensitive design.

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We want more!

Our values need a facelift. We are losing sight on what is really important.

Our values need a facelift. We are losing sight on what is really important.

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In an ever changing world we treat innovation as if it is the mythical Fountain of Youth that can rejuvenate and save our companies. The problem is that in that same changing world, we are starting to run out of things to create, resulting in a whole lot of junk that is claimed to be the next best thing. Greed is the inordinate desire to possess wealth, goods, or objects to keep it for one's self (1).  It is the perfect word to describe companies that innovate just to innovate, clearly they have missed the point on their way to their Research and Development sector. In this capitalist world we live to learn that we need to strive for more, because that is better. Now switch it up and read that statement like this:  we need to strive for better, because only then we can have more.  Granted the question of more vs. better innovation is not very fruitful, as it is based on belief systems and ideologies regarding which one is ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  

The words better and more both have a tone of desire in them. We all want to be better or have more and so we sometimes lose sight of why we actually want those things. So go ahead and ask yourself that question:  why do you want to be better or have more? You probably thought of things like: to get more out of life, to have a happier life, a successful life etc. Notice that the word that repeats itself is “life”. So if we have better and more, but due to our greed we have no life or earth to live on what was then the whole point?  Peel off all of our trivial wants and needs, and go back to what we need to sustain life: “Health”.  An important core value we forget, that we are dependent and actually in real need of.

Every aspect of our lives has its own ecosystem and its own “body”. When we are sick (not healthy) we do not work optimally, in worst cases we can even die. Now imagine if the bodies of our social, technical, economic and political systems were sick, would it not work the same way as it does in a human body? The same applies for innovations. When we do not strive for a healthy innovation system, then we have obviously lost sight on what actually really matters.

Innovations end and start with values. Only when we have our values straightened out, we can start thinking of their requirements and designs. As I mentioned before, when we only focus on more and better, the values that really matter such as sustainability, health and inclusiveness are put on the back burner. And thus we end up with a set of incompetent and poorly thought out requirements and designs. So maybe you will get more and better from it, but ask yourself: is it healthy? Does it feed you and the earth? Or is it made of the same plastic, that will be the only thing left on earth after there is no more.

 Sources:

 1. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/greed

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Don’t tell people how to adapt. Nudge them.

Incremental change to avoid public aversion for a product or system, following the example of the city of Stockholm.

Incremental change to avoid public aversion for a product or system, following the example of the city of Stockholm.

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After a long day of hard work, you step in your car to drive home. However, after a few minutes you already are stuck in a traffic jam. What compelled you to hop in your car during rush-hour, very well knowing you would end up in a traffic jam, just like yesterday, and the day before, and the day before, and….

Road congestion is a very complex societal issue. And even though none of us like to be stuck in traffic, a lot of us still choose our cars over public transport or bike knowing very well what the consequences are. Would there be a way to move people away from their cars, especially during rush hours, and towards public transport? The city of Stockholm might have the answer to this question.

On January 3rd 2006, Stockholm introduced rush-hour tolls for the main bridges in the city centre. This, overnight, reduced the amount of cars on the road by 20%. Although this may not sound like much, this 20% already proved to be enough to dissolve road congestion. However, public opinion was not on their side.

Before the toll was introduced, about 60% opposed this idea. And when it was introduced this increased to about 70%. However, this makes sense since people suddenly had to pay for something that used to be free. But after a year or so, something interesting happened. Public opinion started to shift from 30% in favour of this toll in beginning of 2007 to 70% at the beginning of 2011. Even more so, people who used to oppose the toll argued that they have always been in favour of it. This is very nicely indicated by Jonas Eliasson in his 2012 TED Talk “How to solve traffic jams”. But what would like to know now is the reason why these people suddenly started to support the initiative.

One major reason that crosses my mind would be that after some years more and more people started to see the benefits of this toll. They could still use their car, the toll prices were very low, and in addition, road congestion disappeared. And since there already was a (fairly) decent public transport system, it seemed to cause more positive than negative effects.

To me, this is a very nice example of designing a system based on intrinsic values in society, like the aversion to road congestion. However, since people tend to be egocentric and place their own interests before those of society, products or systems like this one might seem wrongly designed at first. However, the general public opposing an idea at first does not necessarily have to mean abandoning the idea. If it appears to work, implementing a product or system step by step might nudge the public towards acceptance. This of course should all be done within the frame of responsibility.

In short, if the public opposes a product or system, implementation in increments is required. And as Jonas put it: “Don’t tell people how to adapt. Nudge them. If you do it correctly, they’ll embrace the change.”

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Value sensitive design the good and the bad

In this column good and bad examples of value sensitive design will be discussed. The smart meter, the Long Island bridge and the Dutch neighborhoods.

In this column good and bad examples of value sensitive design will be discussed. The smart meter, the Long Island bridge and the Dutch neighborhoods.

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We all have things that we want, you want to buy the game console and the skateboard. The only constraint you face is the amount of money you have. You have to prioritize your demands and choose one, so the skateboard or the game console. Here you can make a distinction between instrumental values and intrinsic values. Instrumental values are values that are important for the sake of something else, here it would be money. Intrinsic values that are important for their own sake, and not to attain something else, like fun.

Designers also face these questions. So when you have to choose which values you are going to implement in your design and to which extent you will be dealing with these kind of questions. This can be used for the good or for the bad. A good example where value sensitive design used for a bad purpose is that of the bridge in Long Island. This bridge was designed by an urban planner Robert Moses. This bridge was made deliberately low because then busses could not drive that route. Why did an urban planner not want that busses would take that route? This is because of a racist argument. Black people took the bus and that route was heading to the beach and they did not want that black people went to the beach. These kind of racist urban planning ideas are not used anymore.  The government is doing a good job with urban planning. There are not ‘black’ neighborhoods anymore in the Netherlands, the value of togetherness is very good used in the urban plans of the Dutch government. This is a good thing, if the children learn at a young age to cope with different people it will make them less racist. I think that the U.S can learn from the Netherlands, because you have a lot of ‘black’ neighborhoods over there.

A good example of not implementing values in the right way in your design is the smart meter. It is designed to safe people money. This meter was also designed to reduce CO2 emissions for the EU targets of 2020 and to make the grid more efficient. If there was a smart meter in every house than every household would give detailed information of their electricity usage and therefore electricity companies could predict a peak and make that peek lower so that they could produce less electricity but they could provide everybody in accordance to their needs.  However, there are also problems with this design. These smart meters do invade our privacy. I will just give a quick summary on the report of how these meters can take away our privacy. You can use these meters to:

  • Determine how many people are home and at what times;
  • Determine what appliances you use when, e.g., washer, dryer, toaster, furnace, A/C, microwave, medical devices … the list is almost endless depending on the granularity of the data;
  • Determine when a home is vacant (for planning a burglary), who has high-priced appliances, and who has a security system;

Other problems with these meters is that they cost a lot of money. By the time the proposal was brought by the upper house, there were a lot of concerns about the privacy issues when implementing such a smart meter. The Dutch upper house rejected the plan on the ground of data protection. The designers of such a device should have focused much more on his value sensitive design. The privacy issue could be foreseen, the companies who would attain the information would even know, when you are home, how many people are at home and even what you are doing. This is of course a big privacy violation and the EU should make a smart meter without all these privacy issues. The smart meter is a good idea because it could help the environment, but it should be without the big privacy violations.

 

It is a good decision of the Dutch upper house to reject the plan for the implementation of the smart meter, because otherwise the smart meter would be watching you!

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Drones, an armour for the pilots or an untied gun?

Jordi Granés Puig - Nowadays the U.S. Army is using drones as the cornerstone of their war against terrorism. They are smooth, effective and don't risk the life of a pilot. With these considerations they can seem a perfect innovation, but we could be forgetting the ethical considerations...

Jordi Granés Puig - Nowadays the U.S. Army is using drones as the cornerstone of their war against terrorism. They are smooth, effective and don't risk the life of a pilot. With these considerations they can seem a perfect innovation, but we could be forgetting the ethical considerations...

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The case study of the seventh chapter is about autonomous weapons. Autonomous weapons can be divided in two categories: The completely autonomous weapons, which raise huge ethical and legal issues because a computer program is taking the decision to kill a person, and the semi-autonomous weapons, which are robots controlled by a person who can be miles away from the robot. I want to focus on these second ones, more concretely on Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), popularly known as drones.

On the recent years the U.S. Army has increased exponentially the use of drones. While completely autonomous weapons raise an unanimous outcry against their use, RPAS can be seen not only as a way to save the lives of the pilots if the things go wrong and the drone is destroyed, but as a way to allow pilots to live at home and work on the military base, away from war’s horrors. According to that the drones are a great invention that can save lives and increase the general welfare without any obvious concerns. But are they that good?

After analysing drones from an economic and welfare approach, we should take into account the ethical considerations. To determine if the use of drones is ethic or not we have to resort to philosophy. There are two thesis applicable to the drones case: The Extended Mind Thesis (EMT) and the Artifactual Mind Thesis (AMT). On one hand, the EMT, defended by the transhumanist philosophers, defends that when we are using technologic objects, such as a pen or a drone, they become our extension and we materialize our actions as if they were part of us. As an example, when a kid plays a videogame he don’t think that he has to press one button to allow his character to jump, he only thinks that he wants the character to jump and does it. Other examples could be driving a car or writing through a keyboard. As we can see, EMT would argue in favour of the drones because it considers them in an instrumentalist way, they are only a tool. On the other hand, the AMT, defended by the bionconservative philosophers, agrees to the EMT in considering the objects as an extension of the body but also consider them as an extension of the mind. At first sight that can sound very strange but that theory has lots of supporters. AMT supporters argue that the technology alters our perception and behaviour, leading to different reactions on the same person depending on which way he receives the information. Let’s take the RPAS example. Imagine that a pilot is driving an aircraft over a building where there is a terrorist leader but also lots of innocent civilians. If he was there driving the plane and he decided to throw a bomb over the building, he would feel really bad because HE threw the bomb and killed innocent civilians. Therefore, the same pilot throwing the same bomb may feel better (or less bad) if he was thousands of miles away controlling a drone because it was the drone who killed them.

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Automatic weapons: value-sensitive or poor design?

War and conflicts always express conflicting values: those between countries, cultures, religions, et cetera. In the last decades these value conflicts are becoming more complex with the growing use of automatic and autonomous weapons, like drones and computer-controlled bombs and rockets. Who are we protecting and are values taking serious enough in this design?

War and conflicts always express conflicting values: those between countries, cultures, religions, et cetera. In the last decades these value conflicts are becoming more complex with the growing use of automatic and autonomous weapons, like drones and computer-controlled bombs and rockets. Who are we protecting and are values taking serious enough in this design?

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A few weeks ago, I read in the Elsevier that F16 pilots prefer radar controlled rockets above GPS controlled rockets, because with radar you have the option to diverge the rocket when the pilots recognize civilians on the target ground. In this example we see that safety for the innocent is (still) important, which is good to hear. We are not fighting against innocent, unarmed people. The different types of automatic weapons, however, do not always give us the opportunity to do so. We actually transfer the wheel to technology, whether or not intended by human actions.

In the Second World War, so many flight battles have been taken place where a lot pilots found there grave in the ocean. Today, large scale battles like that are not likely to happen again, but on a small scale they still take place, especially in the Middle East. Very recently, it’s been investigated that flight MH17 is taken down by a BUK missile, which is led by radar to his target, where it explodes and spreads a hail of fragments, which causes devastation to materials but also to human life. Whether or not this was an intended action, it shows what results such weapons can have.

Automatic weapons are intended to make the task of a pilot safer. They can be targeted precisely, so that mishits are factually excluded (they still take place though). In this way, the value of safety for pilots and innocent people is taken into account. On the other side, it is still designed to destroy and kill. This is an infringement on the right to live for everyone. In war, other laws apply, but in conflict situations these weapons are, most of the time, used to destroy as many as possible. The enormous destructive possibilities that these weapons have, are not taken into account enough in the design phase. Otherwise it would be impossible to design such weapons. But so far we already are.

Automatic weapons also give people the feeling that they are never totally safe, wherever they are. There is always a possibility that a drone films them, a rocket will be targeted to them or a bomb is aimed at them by radar or infrared. This causes an anguished feeling, what can be the reason why so many conflicts arise when there is only the idea that the other party is planning to do something. These are things thought about now, but clearly not enough earlier.

So we can state that automatic weapons have the advantages for the ones who ‘control’ them, but they break other values, like the right to live. Is it ethical to act like this? Is it value-sensitive? Only partial.

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The robotic war, why should it be regulated

Drones are being used for surveillance but also in warzones. but the government as role model should set the right example in the use of drones so that privacy and risk with drones by amateurs is not happening.

Drones are being used for surveillance but also in warzones. but the government as role model should set the right example in the use of drones so that privacy and risk with drones by amateurs is not happening.

Drones

The robotic war, why should it be regulated

Wars will never stop, but with the current technology we are able to reduce humans in war zones.

With new technology on drones it is able to send an unmanned vehicle into danger zones and hereby preventing possible unnecessarily human lives taken. Robotic weapons currently in use range from RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) or drones are controlled by a human operator. These drones can be used as surveillance but nowadays are used in warzones as killing device. Also there are automatically aiming guns which see the heat from humans and is able to kill them.

But who is responsible and can we speak of a many hand problem?

Especially the heat detecting weapon which can kill without operator is interesting. Who controls it and gives the commands. And when the commands are given who is responsible for the action taken. How could it be prevented from possible cyber-attack or taken internally by the enemy?

There should be precise laws and regulations for these scenarios. The government needs to be aware that, even if they do not directly but indirectly pull the trigger, they are still responsible. The change of a many hand problem should completely be excluded.

What I found interesting is that amazon is testing to deliver products using drones. Drones can be bought easily by anyone and drones have been developing very quickly. This leads to unclear laws and regulation. Where is it allowed to fly the drone, what are the privacy issues and how can safety being assured?

In Russia there was a video uploaded where they attached paintball guns to a drone and as a friendly joke shoot each other using the drones. But could it also carry lethal guns or bombs. These are very serious consequences which could drastically go wrong without the right regulation.

When the government stakes drones with weapons into war, this could lead to experimentation with drones by amateurs or radicals.

Privacy is also an important topic. Nowadays drones can be used to spy on people in their private environment, for example, while sunbathing or spying through windows.

Government should be well aware of these negative uses of the drones and need to regulate them. Also I find it important that government uses their own drones in a responsible manner. The government is a role model for its people and if it uses drones in a harmful way, this will be a negative influence.

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Should we be scared of robots taking our jobs?

Robots are more and more often used to do standardized work. For example, in 1878 the very first telephone operator jobs arose, but since the late 1960’s the job is history. Nowadays when you call somebody the call is automatically connected by a machine. Not only telephone operators, but more and more jobs are being replaced by robots. Are we as humans even necessary in the future for work processes? Are robots taking over the world without us even knowing it?

Robots are more and more often used to do standardized work. For example, in 1878 the very first telephone operator jobs arose, but since the late 1960’s the job is history. Nowadays when you call somebody the call is automatically connected by a machine. Not only telephone operators, but more and more jobs are being replaced by robots. Are we as humans even necessary in the future for work processes? Are robots taking over the world without us even knowing it?

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Robots are more and more often used to do standardized work. For example, in 1878 the very first telephone operator jobs arose, but since the late 1960’s the job is history. Nowadays when you call somebody the call is automatically connected by a machine. Not only telephone operators, but more and more jobs are being replaced by robots. Are we as humans even necessary in the future for work processes? Are robots taking over the world without us even knowing it?

Many researchers are now developing new robots and with that comes the autonomy of the robots. Self-driving cars, computers winning at ‘Jeopardy!’ an American television gameshow and even digital assistance like Siri, Google Now and Cortana. Scientists are able to create more and more advanced artificial intelligence (AI). The big question here is ‘how do you give values to an autonomous device?’. Future autonomous robots maybe able to cure people in very contagious areas, where risks are too high for normal humans or during national disasters, where robots autonomously search for survivors. Autonomous robots can have many useful purposes, but how do we actually make sure that robots won’t be used for bad purposes?

There are many movies where robots are being used for the good, but in many movies robots are projected as the downfall to humanity. Even Stephen Hawking warns that robots may be disastrous in his interview about the movie Transcendence[1]. In that movie, a scientist uploads his consciousness in his own created artificial intelligence machine. In this virtual form he has connection to the internet and thus the capability to learn everything in just a few seconds. With that capability he is able to control markets hack into databases and eventually sets up his own technologic utopia in the desert. His urge of power makes him create nanoparticles from which he can read and control human minds. Of course this is just a movie, but it is certainly something we must take into account while developing new and more complex AI’s.

For this reason a consortium of scientists and inventors (including Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking) have recently drafted an open letter on research priorities for artificial intelligence (AI). Among the stated goals are maximizing the benefits from AI while minimizing pitfalls that could endanger humans and even humanity. In the movies like Transcendence often a bottom up approach of the value sensitive design (VSD) is used. They design first the machine itself and then look what it can do. They find out they forget the value and norms created by humanity. The consortium of scientists and inventors actually says to first set the values and norms before defining the design requirements instead of the other way around.

Robots with AI can be very helpful in the future if we design them for the right thing.

 

[1] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/stephen-hawking-transcendence-looks-at-the-implications-of-artificial-intelligence-but-are-we-taking-9313474.html

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As Guilty as a Gun

In ancient Greece, it was common to have religious festivities frequently. During such events, the offering of an ox was an important moment. The day after the offering, however, a prosecution would be started, to find the one guilty of murdering the ox. First, the farmer would be interrogated. He would refer the investigators to the stable maids. In turn, the table maids would say that the ox was brought to the butcher. In the end, the butcher would respond that it was the knife he used that killed the ox. Of course, the knife can’t defend itself. So ultimately, the knife would be found guilty of murder and sentenced to death by drowning it in a river. After thousands of years we know better. Or do we?

In ancient Greece, it was common to have religious festivities frequently. During such events, the offering of an ox was an important moment. The day after the offering, however, a prosecution would be started, to find the one guilty of murdering the ox. First, the farmer would be interrogated. He would refer the investigators to the stable maids. In turn, the table maids would say that the ox was brought to the butcher. In the end, the butcher would respond that it was the knife he used that killed the ox. Of course, the knife can’t defend itself. So ultimately, the knife would be found guilty of murder and sentenced to death by drowning it in a river. After thousands of years we know better. Or do we?

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Recently, autonomous weapons became the center of debates. These weapons are programmed to be able to eliminate threats without human operation of the weapon system. This protects human lives, as operators are no longer needed on the spot. The idea of a machine that can judge over life and death on its own is terrifying for many. That’s why a system that requires human intervention has been issued; semi-autonomous weapon systems.

Semi-autonomous weapons do need human authorization to function (read ‘to kill’). Their advantage is that they don’t have to be operated from the inside. A good example of such a technology is the drone. It can be controlled from miles away, but won’t start shooting at targets until the human operator of the drone would initiate it. This gives more space to ethical decision making during the process, creating more consciousness of whether or not to kill. The operator can take environmental circumstances into account that the autonomous weapon system cant. The probability of innocent deaths for example.

So far the advantages of robotic killing machines. What is happening due to automatizing weapon systems, is that the act of ending another human’s life is becoming easier. No longer do we need to kill with our bare hands, man to man. No longer do we even have to pull a trigger, all it takes is a button. Of course, current air bombers also kill by the use of a button, but now, the person that has to push that certain button isn’t even there! He is comfortably sitting somewhere miles away of the attack. To him, the only thing that happened is the elimination of a couple of pixels on his screen. This will inevitably lead to an increase of civilian casualties. We are losing the human touch.  

Proof is the leaked military footage of a helicopter attack on rebels from 2010. During the video it appears as if the soldiers enjoy handling the helicopter’s machine gun as if they were playing a video game, instead of what they were really doing; Murdering a group of human beings in cold blood. These so called rebels turned out to be 8 war photographers, who were armed with nothing else but their photo cameras.

To make it even worse, people claim to feel that they didn’t actually kill those targets during a drone strike. The drone did. This puts us back in the time of the ancient Greeks! Autonomous weapons are still programmed by humans, semi-autonomous weapons are controlled by humans, just like planes and tanks are controlled by a human. So cut the bad the excuses and face it. One can never blame a murder on the weapon. After all, it is a mere tool to establish what the mind wants to do. In the end, weapons don’t kill people, people kill people.

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P2P vs Social Media

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In case somebody who might not know about P2P, let me explain it briefly. P2P stands for peer to peer which is an interface where you can share media or information with other people who are willing to share. Even in social media such as Facebook, you share your posts, links and pictures, in Twitter you share hashtag. Although the way both P2P and social media work seem to be similar, there is an issue with P2P. If people share their own pictures that they took, videos they recorded or songs they made via P2P, it is totally fine. When somebody shares Harry Potter movie, it becomes illegal unless you have permission or buy copy right. As you can see people mainly use for the latter purpose because they can download something for free instead of paying money without going out. This kind of file sharing became illegal because it is serious financial damage on producers. They sell DVD, music and movies to make profit but if people do not pay they will go bankrupt in the end. In terms of value sensitive design, I firmly believe that P2P was poorly made. Maybe the founder did not want people to use in an illegal way but the design made easy for people to do this type of action.

On the contrary, I believe social media is well made from value sensitive design perspective. Unlike P2P, the main purpose of social media is to share your moments in your life with your friends or family. Look at Facebook, what would you post on your blog, most likely something which was fun, exciting or proud right? What I normally upload is pictures of my friends eating the food I cooked.

The amazing thing about Facebook is that you can press “Like” and there is no negative button such as “Hate”, “Dislike” and etc. This is because if Facebook introduces “Dislike”, I am sure it will be less popular, some people might feel nervous when they post something thinking about what if somebody dislikes my post? By only keeping “Like” button people can share something easily with others. Even if somebody does not get many “Like” they might be bit upset but that’s it nothing more than that. Facebook really became a new way of interacting with many people at once compared to chatting. I am looking forward to face a new type media in future. 

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NS: From No Service to No Stress

Possible improvements for the “Nationale Spoorwegen” based on the value sensitive design.

Possible improvements for the “Nationale Spoorwegen” based on the value sensitive design.

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When travelling with the Dutch public transportation train company NS there is one thing that you will probably notice. There is a lot of room for improvement. Lucy has to go to work 5 days in the week and in the weekend she often goes to a museum in another city. Lucy will tell you her opinion of the design and the the possible improvements.

 Does the NS have a value sensitive design?

A value sensitive design aims at making values part of technological design. So basically it is a design in which values are of importance. So the question is: does NS include values in its design?

When looking at NS and its underlying values you could say it is a value sensitive design. It is for example quite sustainable. Especially when looking at the Green train initiative or comparing the ecological footprint of one train passenger to that of someone going to work by car.

 

 Lucy: I think the green train initiative is very good and I enjoy feeling like I am part of a sustainable way of transportation.”

There is however room for improvement. We will look at the following values: equality, reliability and safety.

Firstly reliability; let’s be honest; when you really need to be somewhere in time you either have to leave super early or go by another form of transportation. Countless amounts of time has Lucy been at the platform while a friendly female voice was telling her bad news. There were no trains, her train would be late or she should take another train which will take her an hour longer. Now think back; you have probably had the same experience once or twice.

 Lucy: ,, I have been late for work so many times. Currently it is so bad that whenever I have an important meeting I will drive instead of taking the train.”

 

Secondly equality, when considering equality in public transportation the first thing that comes to mind for me is equal access. This equal access could be improved for NS in two ways. Tickets are currently very expensive and trains can only be used by a select group in the public. The economic equality would improve by creating slightly less expensive tickets which would make transportation with NS better accessible for the public. Another way in which equal access can be improved is by improving the amount of people for whom it is useful. This could already be done by increasing the reliability, which would make less people choose for other, currently more reliable, alternatives.

 

 

Lucy: ,, Train tickets are quite pricy, during the week I have an OV-card so my company will pay for my expenses, but in the weekend I often carpool with my friends to save money. A lower price ticket price would really help.”

 

 

 

Finally safety, trains are often so packed that they will get dangerous. People need to stand and when a train stops or switches tracks, people can easily fall. This is why it would be wise to increase the capacity, allowing more people to sit which will make trains saver. Also there are still loads of suicides by jumping in front of trains, this is not just a safety concern for the jumpers, but also for NS’s own employees because of the trauma it entails.  This is why it would be wise to innovate on how to decrease this problem. Maybe by decreasing the accessibility to the tracks. 

Lucy: ,, It would be nice not having to stand in the train so often, usually you can’t even hold anything to stop yourself from falling. The trains are way too full.”

To summarize it would be a good idea to improve the NS using the value sensitive design.  This value sensitive design is a good way of including values in the technology. Values evolve around human wellbeing which is essential in public transportation. NS would do good to look into these possible improvements. If for nothing else, it would make Lucy very happy. 

 

Translation (not literally):  

Man on the left:,, Sir, this is a ticket from yesterday, it is no longer valid."

Man on the right: ,, Just imagine how long I had to wait for my train!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Keep students from following Robert Moses’ footsteps!

By making sure Value Sensitive Design is taught to every future innovator.

By making sure Value Sensitive Design is taught to every future innovator.

Manhattan Express Way

An example that is often used in the discussion if design represents values is that of Robert Moses’ low hanging overpasses. Robert Moses, “master builder” of New York from the 1920s to the 1970s and responsible for many of the roads, bridges and parks built in that period, designed the overpasses on parkways in Long Island extraordinarily low. It is said that he did this on purpose, to discourage buses to take these routes. In this way, white upper class car owners were free to use the roads whereas the often poor black people who had to use public transport, were banned from them.

Historically accurate or not, it is a perfect example of how the design of civil constructions, and design in general, can contain values. But if I look around me at the faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, I don’t see a lot of people who care about this sort of stuff. And these are the people that will design oil platforms adapted to the harsh North pole climate, dams capable of disrupting entire ecosystems and roads with an even bigger car capacity than before. Despite the fact that we could clearly use it, there is no course in the bachelor that pays any attention to the ethical objections to this kind of projects. And our faculty is not the only one in Delft where Value Sensitive Design (VSD) is not considered such a big issue.

One of the most important things I learned about VSD, is that it includes many disciplines. Especially if you take the interactionist principle into account, which states that ‘value is created and embedded in the interaction between human and technology, both in how technology is used and designed’. This means a link has to be established between the disciplines of ethics and psychology on the one hand, and technology on the other. And this is hard, given that these worlds are as far apart as Schwarzenegger is from winning an Oscar.

That is why it is so important that this link is already established during our education. This can for example be achieved by working in interdisciplinary teams, attending courses at other universities and paying attention to engineering ethics and responsible innovation. Only in this way, we can make sure that future innovators will think long and hard about the values represented in their designs, the consequences of their decisions and the responsibility of their innovations. That is how we keep civil engineers from following Robert Moses’ footsteps.

Luckily, such a program already exists at our university. You can probably feel it coming: the minor Responsible Innovation is perfectly suited for this purpose! So my call to the Executive Board of TU Delft is: make sure Responsible Innovation is not only taught to the few students who take part in this minor, but make it a regular feature in education programs throughout the university. For now, I can only feel privileged for having been able to take part in this course, that gave me insights that will be useful in the rest of my career.

Image: Yes, that is Robert Moses' proposal for a highway straight through lower Manhattan.

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Water design in UK: Cities of the future?

Water sensitive design essentially a design approach integrated by the UK to achieve higher harmony between water, the environment, and society alike. This newest integration can possibly be seen as dare I say, the design of our future cities!

Water sensitive design essentially a design approach integrated by the UK to achieve higher harmony between water, the environment, and society alike. This newest integration can possibly be seen as dare I say, the design of our future cities!

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Many of our cities and towns have shifted to boundaries around rivers or coastlines, and make water extremely integral to its appeal and even design. Water sensitive design has been created for water management to integrate the water cycle with the remaining environment. Bringing all factors of a typical water cycle together such as rainfall, waste water, supply, and demand, the quality of life can be greatly enhanced. This can eve be applied to lessen floods, water shortages, and other risks associated with poor water management. This initiative has been pushed greatly in the UK, and could quite prove to be a pavement for other countries to follow. Quite possibly, this could change the outlook we have on the appeal, quality and even structure of the very cities we live in. Of course, by the time it will be fully integrated, our future generations will reap great benefits.

This could prove to be vital, as society can hopefully see water as more than just a nuisance, and can be truly integrated to accommodate our everyday life (though greatly enhanced) and the rest of the environment. So..how can it be accommodated effectively to where it doesn't become the hassle many have labeled it?

 

A major integration that has been flooding social media, Facebook and Twitter alike, is the implementation of permeable surfaces instead of the usual cement pavements. At first glance, it seems like  a beautiful design that just looks really cool. But many fail to realize it makes perfect sense in its actual function; allowing water to pass through to allow for sustainable drainage systems to ease pressure off the sewerage. This could mean the end of floodings as we know it, and having less problems with sewerage will truly make a lot of people happy!

 

 Furthermore, instead of letting water run down the sink and wasted away, the water could instead be directed to feed our plants and flush our toilets. Water sensitive design can truly impact water reserves and provide efficiency to towns we have never witnessed before. I can truly foresee this implementations being the design of our future cities. With the new age of technology and an initiative for constant improvements in efficiency and wastage, water sensitive design in the UK can hopefully be pushed on to neighboring European countries; and eventually worldwide. Being from Texas, US; I had witnessed first hand the impact poor water management can have on sewerage. A major sewerage problem in our neighborhood of roughly hundreds of inhabitants caused major turmoil in the vicinity. Many had to stay up late while the workers carried on their business, and led to very poor filtration and running of water in our sinks and showers. Of course, this was a few years back, and seeing how water sensitive design could have prevented a host of problems truly amazes me. 

Innovation is only reaching its peak, and water sensitive design encompasses the notion of constant improvement and efficiency. I can certainly see it being implemented in the Netherlands, as the constant rain can be turned to a storage and provide solutions for problems experienced not only in the largest states of the US, but worldwide. All that rain water can be utilized instead of letting it run off, and knowing the Dutch, they will act on it positively to enhance the country's already strong position on environmental sustainability.

 

 

 

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Planetree: VSD in hospitals.

Planetree is an organization that designed a complete healthcare plan for hospitals that incorporates all the values patients find important.

Planetree is an organization that designed a complete healthcare plan for hospitals that incorporates all the values patients find important.

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Some designs are brilliant, or at least, they appear to be. We have all seen some ideas that looked absolutely stunning on paper, but they turned out not to fulfil their purpose at all. When brought into contact with the consumer, some innovations just do not display their full potential. This is why Value Sensitive Design was invented. Originally created for use in the ICT industry, VSD aims to include the value of customers as much as possible. This is why it is often applied to innovations that have high amounts of customer interaction. A good example of this are hospitals. For the only purpose of helping people get rid of an illness, thousands of human interactions take place here every day. This is why Planetree, and Planetree Netherlands in particular, has come up with a complete healthcare plan that aims to maximize customer satisfaction in health facilities by including many of the values that customers hold dear when being treated inside a hospital.

Planetree’s healthcare plan has three focus points. Better healthcare, healing environment and healthy organization. Distributed among these focus points are 12 components that show what people find important. One of these points for instance is number 3; excellent treatment and healthcare. This is, in my opinion, the most basic and most important need one can have inside a hospital. Therefore, it is important to include this in the healthcare plan. Furthermore they emphasise, among others, easy interaction with technology, satisfied and motivated employees, healthy foods and exercise and transparent patient files so patients can look into their own condition. By itself, these are all excellent points. However, sometimes they go a little too far.

In component 7, Architecture and interior complement health and healing, Planetree argues that the construction and layout of hospitals can positively influence a patient’s healing process. They want to reach this by placing flowing water, aquaria, kitchens, gardens and labyrinths in the health facilities. Then I ask myself, how are kitchens and labyrinths going to help people get better faster? On top of this, Planetree wants to remove desks. How are patients and their families going to get their information on diseases or directions inside a hospital if they can’t ask for them at a desk? Also, as complimentary healthcare, hospitals are expected to include rooms for spirituality, therapeutic contact, usage of aromas, acupuncture and pets.

I can understand that for minorities, these types of complimentary healthcare can be helpful, but if the partnered hospital is not being built from scratch, they have to go through great deals of trouble to incorporate all these features into their building. This is only feasible if the results weight off against the costs. Luckily, they do. Planetree gives an example of Griffin Hospital, which went from 83% customer satisfaction to 98% in ten years. This is an increase of 18% in customer satisfaction. Several studies also indicate that the Planetree model has a positive influence on financial figures for hospitals.

The Planetree model shows us that VSD is not only applicable in ICT. Using the values of customers is a very responsible way to innovate, and it pays off. Even though the process of VSD can be quite hard and costly, it will generally be beneficial to the innovation in the end. The Planetree example shows us that even for services instead of products the benefits will eventually outweigh the costs of innovating. Using values in the innovation process gives something of value in return.

 

Sources used:

Stone, S. (2008). A retrospective evaluation of the impact of the Planetree patient-centered model of care on inpatient quality outcomes. HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 1(4), 55-69.

Coulmont, M., Roy, C., & Dumas, L. (2013). Does the Planetree Patient-Centered Approach to Care Pay Off?: A Cost-Benefit Analysis. The health care manager, 32(1), 87-95.

http://www.planetree.nl/over-planetree/de-12-componenten/

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Architecture: the art of human interaction

Roughly there are two ways to interpret architecture. On the one hand there is a style that includes the fact that buildings are based on the way people live. And on the other hand there is a style that includes the fact that architecture can change the way people live. But what is important in designing buildings?

Roughly there are two ways to interpret architecture. On the one hand there is a style that includes the fact that buildings are based on the way people live. And on the other hand there is a style that includes the fact that architecture can change the way people live. But what is important in designing buildings?

Human interaction

In the 50’s the baby boom caused a population growth in the Netherlands. The Dutch architecture had to respond to this.There were different values included in the 50's, a few of these values: fast building to give a a lot of people a home, functional buildings and reachability for the car. A lot of high-rise buildings were built in a fast pace. Because people lost a lot in the war, they had different values than nowadays.

There was a reaction on this building style with the change of values. People missed nature, human-scale and life quality. Health and nature became more important. There was a rise of the so called ‘tuinsteden' (translation: garden cities). Human scale-buildings were built surrounded with green.

We can see that values can change through time. Population growth, welfare and life quality have a big influence on architecture. Nowadays sustainability is a important value for the current architecture, for example we can see a rise of self-sufficient buildings. Taking the future and nature into account in current design is something that belongs to nowadays designing. 

I think Human values and influence is one of the most important things that influence architecture. But sometimes this is forgotten and the building becomes a piece of art instead of a design to interact with.
For example the alt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. This is a very impressing building. But there were some reflection problems. Because of the parabolic mirror the resulting heat made some rooms of nearby condominiums unbearably warm, caused the air-conditioning costs of these residents to skyrocket and created hot spots on adjacent sidewalks of as much as 140 °F (60 °C). There was also the increased risk of traffic accidents due to blinding sunlight reflected from the polished surfaces. After complaints from neighboring buildings and residents, the owners asked Gehry Partners to come up with a solution. Their response was a computer analysis of the building's surfaces identifying the offending panels. In 2005 these were dulled by lightly sanding the panels to eliminate unwanted glare [1]. Afterwards you can think off it as a really funny story, but did really no one saw this coming? 

I think the history of architecture is really interesting. You can see how values are translated into buildings. We spend almost 90% of our lives living in buildings. This shows how important it is for architects to always think about what people need and the interaction of people with surrounding buildings. Because architecture is a way of art, architects sometimes tend to make a piece of art instead of design for human. I think humans are the best designing tool that exists in architecture.

 Sources:

  1. Information Walt Disney Concert Hall. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Disney_Concert_Hall
  2. Information high-rise buildings. Source:https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoogbouw
  3. WHEN BUILDINGS DON’T WORK: THE ROLE OF ARCHITECTURE IN HUMAN HEALTH. Source:http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.4.5633&rep=rep1&type=pdf

  4. Human Interaction Image: made by Lisa Gerards
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Do wind turbines safe or destroy nature?

The NIMBY problems of wind turbines and how value sensitive design could have prevented this.

The NIMBY problems of wind turbines and how value sensitive design could have prevented this.

The large-scale introduction of onshore and offshore wind turbines remains a societal challenge, despite its potential for providing sustainable energy. In the Netherlands and elsewhere issues of social acceptance have meant that offshore wind energy is increasingly being considered as an option, despite greater technical and economic difficulties as compared to onshore wind. The application of Value Sensitive Design (VSD) to wind parks and turbines could contribute to solutions that are more acceptable from the perspective of relevant values such as justice, sustainability and well-being. VSD is a way of doing ethics that aims at making moral values part of technological design, research and development.

Wolsink (2000) concludes from a survey in the US and the Netherlands that ‘‘most people with (alleged) NIMBY-feelings are not so much in favour of wind power at all’’ (p. 54), and that ‘‘the strongest impact on the general attitude towards wind power concerned the aesthetic value of wind turbines (p. 51).’’ During my study Technique, Policy and Management in the Energy and Industry domain, this is something we see a lot in the energy transition. The Dutch government aims to have 14% of our energy produced in a sustainable way by 2020 and 100% by 2050. Sustainability is a very important value for the Netherlands. However, people seem not to be so keen on installing solar panels and wind turbines. The “Not In My BackYard” argument is often used, but what does it actually mean? In the case of wind turbines the two main aspects are the noise they create and the simple fact that a lot of people think wind turbines are “horizon pollution”. Wind turbines destroy the natural landscapes in nature. This is ironic, since wind turbines are a sustainable form of energy production that helps to lower our greenhouse gas pollution. This pollution is also damaging to nature, so are wind turbines are a lose-lose technology? I don’t think so. I do think that VSD could have helped to make wind turbines better.

In the early days, engineers of wind turbines focused on maximum efficiency so wind turbines are a profitable way of energy production. I never heard of case where they took the aesthetic values of the design into account. This is a missed opportunity! If they would have invested more in “how to make wind turbines beautiful” it would have helped a lot in the acceptance of the technology. I’m sure if engineers would have worked more with designers it would have been better. Engineers often miss the experience with society and aesthetics. Designers have more knowledge about this, so they are a  valuable asset in the technology design process.

For responsible innovation, values are key for technologies to be successful. Engineers often start with their solution to a problem with creating the system requirements. This approach will not give you the much needed overall picture about what a technology must offer. So start with thinking about values. From there you create the norms to meet these values and then create the specific system requirements. Don’t be afraid to ask help from other people with different skillsets like artists/designers, politicians, economists etc. Working together with different minds really helps to create responsible innovative ideas and technologies!

 

 

Wolsink, M. (2000). Wind power and the NIMBY-myth: Institutional capacity and the limited significance of public support. Renewable Energy, 2000(21), 49–64.

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The Wakawaka

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We as the Dutch population belong to the top 10 percent wealthiest of the world population. We educate our youth to become citizens of this society by schooling them as good as possible and teaching them to come up with innovative ideas and products. We have a lot of knowledge in all different kind of fields because we always try to push the limits in our designs and often this leads to very good ideas and products, for us the top 10 percent. Sometimes we even come up with products we didn’t even know we needed them, and can’t do without them after a few years. What if we use all this knowledge and look at what the bottom 10 percent of the world population needs.

This is where the founders of the Wakawaka come in to play. After winning an LED technology contest in South Africa the founders discovered that there is a desperate need in off-grid electricity. The effects on the 1.2 billion people in the world living without proper access to electricity and light are devastating and result in a low living standard. This lack of electricity leads to large scale use of inefficient kerosene lamps as a light source, which are very dangerous for the health and safety of these people and because of its bad efficiency very bad for the environment.

The Wakawaka founders realized they could do something about this problem and used the knowledge they gained in the Netherlands and started to develop a robust, efficient, solar powered LED lamp affordable for people living in poverty. After 6 months and a successful crowd funding campaign the first efficient solar powered LED came on the market. The lamp has a very practical design and is able to provide 150 hours of light with just one day of charging. It is declared to be two times more efficient than any other solar powered lamp on the market.
Wakawaka isn’t only revolutionary in the design of the lamp, but also the business model that is being used. This is an impact based model, with as main goal to fight electricity and light poverty in a sustainable way. All the profit that is being made by selling the Wakawakas to people who can afford them, is used to provide the 10 percent less wealthiest people in the world with light and a little bit of power.
It will not wonder you the little lamp very soon caught the attention of all sorts of companies, NGO’s and governments. It won all kinds of innovation awards all over the world. Therefor this is an excellent example of how two people who see a big problem with large values can translate this to design requirements, and eventually contribute to solving these major world problems. 

I would like to invite the rest of the 10 percent wealthiest people in the world and use and combine our knowledge not to make the biggest, fastest or highest innovative product but a take a lesson out of the Wakawaka. Let’s look down with each other instead of up, and together create something with the most impact.

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Utopia revised

When values will be taken more into account during the design of a neighborhood, then safety, sustainability and human well-being can go hand in hand perfectly.

When values will be taken more into account during the design of a neighborhood, then safety, sustainability and human well-being can go hand in hand perfectly.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vancouver_Community_Gardens#/media/File:2010_Davie_Street_community_garden_Vancouver_BC_Canada_5045979145.jpg

Last month, the second edition of the so-called ‘ECF Idea Camp’ took place in Botkyrka, Sweden. The Idea Camp contained workshops, idea sharing and debate to help the selected participants developing their ideas with as goal to find ways to create so called ‘commons’, public areas which are beneficial the community as a whole.  It consisted of a three-day collaborative working platform, organized within the framework of Connected Action for the Commons, a network and action research program led by cultural organizations from across Europe. While this camp is quite new, the concept of commons is much older. The question remains: Are these rather utopic initiatives strong enough to fit into nowadays’ society? 1

At Idea Camp, a lot of different opinions and ideas come together. Camp participant and R&D grantee Matthew Fox asserts that “The Idea Camp is a miniature ‘pop-up city’ in itself, facilitating face-to-face interactions and enabling the speedy sharing of ideas and contacts. All the ideas came out of the Idea Camp stronger than when they went in, and we were able to help each other.” Some participants even see themselves as the ‘commons movement’, a whole new generation spreading ideas on finding ways to use public grounds in a way that is beneficial to the whole community. Others, such as British activist Dougald Hine, say to be inspired by history. Before ‘the enclosure of the commons’, the containment of the public grounds by the more powerful, local communities considered the heath and forests as common grounds where they could graze their cattle, collect wood and pick fruit. Hine is making a valid point here.2

According to Lieven De Cauter, a Belgian philosopher and activist, these thoughts on the enclosure of the commons and the utopian ideas that they ensue, make ‘Utopia’, the book written by English humanist Thomas More in 1553, still very topical. More’s disaffection with society back then, as explained in his second book, makes clear that the problem has already been there for a very long time. However, according to De Cauter, we should not focus on the utopian dream that More expressed in his second book. What should result from the current disaffection, are realistic solutions in the form of value driven designs. These solutions can come in the form of commons.3

Examples of this already exist. French philosopher Loïc Fel, has created a small common in a popular part of Paris. Back then, the place was being occupied by Afghan refugees. The former residents of the neighborhood brought them together and filled the common with trees, providing fruit for anyone. The surprising result is that that this idea worked out unbelievably well and that this part of Paris now has the highest biodiversity around. Another initiative worth mentioning is Parckfarm4, in the City of Brussels. In this common, neighborhood residents of all sorts of backgrounds cultivate, harvest and eat vegetables together.

Concluded can be, that doing basic human activities is a great way of dealing with cultural diversity. Furthermore, existing commons prove that when values will be taken more into account during the design of a neighborhood, then safety, sustainability and human well-being can go hand in hand perfectly.

 

 

 

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Sources:

[1] European Cultural Foundation – ECF Idea Camp: http://www.culturalfoundation.eu/idea-camp/

[2] De stad is van ons! Hoe jonge ideeënmakers de gemeenschap willen herontdekken: https://decorrespondent.nl/3437/De-stad-is-van-ons-Hoe-jonge-ideeenmakers-de-gemeenschap-willen-herontdekken/315204747242-5f526275

[3] Samen tuinieren, koken, eten en lachen, dát is de ultieme utopie: https://decorrespondent.nl/2909/Samen-tuinieren-koken-eten-en-lachen-dat-is-de-ultieme-utopie/134203806-f4905b89

[4] Parckfarm’s website (in French): http://www.parckfarm.tk/

 

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Value Sensitive Design: Aquatecture for the Future!

Global sea levels are expected to rise, bringing with them new challenges to the international community. This article explores how engineers and scientists are designing solutions with value sensitive design in mind.

Global sea levels are expected to rise, bringing with them new challenges to the international community. This article explores how engineers and scientists are designing solutions with value sensitive design in mind.

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Scientific researchers and experts have come to generally accept that the earth is undergoing meteorological changes affecting rain and drought patterns, natural disaster frequency and global temperatures. Moreover, as freshwater is added to the world’s oceans from melting glaciers and ancient ice deposits in the Arctic and Antarctic, sea levels are expected to rise over the next century by several meters. This threatens the future of many nations which have low-lying areas exposed to the sea, such as parts of the horn of Africa, South-East Asia and the Caribbean to name a few. Many islands in the pacific have already begun to feel the very real effects of climate change and the first climate refugees have begun to apply for asylum. One country at great risk from rising sea levels is the Netherlands. Roughly one third of the Dutch population lives beneath the sea level, protected by dykes, canals and other water infrastructure, designed to keep them dry. However, these systems were not developed in the last decade or even century alone, but are the result of centuries of experimentation. It is this collective experience and knowledge, which will be needed internationally, to meet the challenges which the future holds.

A field of engineering and planning called aquatecture is beginning to emerge, which combines architecture, urban planning and civil engineering into one. However, the costs incurred and secondary effects associated with engineering solutions needed to keep lowlands safe, are staggering. There exist entire beaches, dunes, canals and wildlife ecosystems in Holland which are entirely manmade and artificially maintained. These constructs currently protect the inland population while also offering refuge for nature, infrastructure for clean energy and public space for recreational activities. Moreover, many nations are showing interest in and are investing in artificial islands - floating or fixed - and many pilot projects have already been finished. Building such preventative and adaptive features can be multifaceted and, if done correctly, can benefit society in myriad ways besides the immediate protection from the elements. It is important, therefore, to imbue any plans for future developments in and outside the Netherlands with the concept of value- sensitive design, to ensure that all angles, good and bad, are explored. Values such as sustainability, environmentalism, public security, fairness and aesthetics play a great role in such monumental endeavours, and as such projects take years to plan and decades to build. Any oversights could lead to costly setbacks or even disasters in the long run.

Aquatecture is not just about coastal developments such as hydropower, dykes or other infrastructure, but also about making inland settlements and cities more water-friendly. Cities like Amsterdam, St. Petersburg and Venice have a long tradition of using water effectively through a series of canals, which in some cases replace conventional roads entirely. Some inland areas around the world might be affected by changing precipitation patterns or floodwaters. As they become increasingly wet, it is important for cities further inland to embrace water management in order to capitalize on the opportunities water affords and not be mired by the negative aspects and drawbacks. To keep a space which is naturally wet, artificially dry will be costly and unsustainable in the long run and solutions similar to the ‘Polder’ (a Dutch system of ditches used in agriculture) may be more effective in the long run.

Moreover, Dutch as well as international aquatects are working on floating houses and apartments aimed at providing housing for future generations. Although current real-world examples are limited to houseboats and houses in a select few cities, incremental and radical improvements are being made with value sensitive design in mind. The goal is to ensure a sustainable future for cities like New York and to give them an alternative to conventional land-based growth. Furthermore, the overarching concept is to adapt societies to a future in which humanity must coexist with water in a new and previously unimagined way; we need to learn to live on, with and maybe even in the sea. Trying to build larger and larger walls to keep the oceans at bay may work in some places, but in general it will be too costly to do everywhere. A value sensitive approach is thus needed to ensure the effectiveness of solutions and the wellbeing of future generations.

Sources:
http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/earthrise/2015/05/dutch-aquatecture-engineering-future-water-150510122653179.html
http://inhabitat.com/tag/aquatecture/
Images:
http://www.aquatecture.nl/
http://www.armageddononline.org/

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What is the key to innovation's success?

Creating a funky-looking innovation seems like a good idea, but will it sell?

Creating a funky-looking innovation seems like a good idea, but will it sell?

Vintage Electric Car

Whenever a ‘sensitive’ innovation comes about, for example genetic modification or sending humans one a one-way trip to Mars, people freak out. This negative attitude towards radical changes can have truly damaging effects, for example the hydrogen cell powered car being an innovation failure due to the bad public reception. Therefore, one must consider the societal mindset before setting off to create a radical innovation – incremental innovations, on the other hand, are much more easily acceptable.

A really interesting demonstration of this principle can be seen in the electric car industry – the concept itself has been around for a very long time, almost 200 years! It initially had a bad rep since it was ‘too easy to operate’ for the gentlemen of that period of time, hence the internal combustion engine prevailed (range was also extremely short, battery technology was only being developed at the time). Since then there have been many attempts at making an electric car, which usually ended up failing, due to a simple reason – they were too funky and bizarre-looking. Tesla, the car manufacturer, managed to popularize the electric around a decade ago, by making the design very conventional, something people are used to seeing, one might call it ordinary. Their latest models look like any other car, albeit debatably with more thought put into its design. They have been a huge commercial success, because the general population is more likely to buy something not ‘out of the norm’. The funky-looking ones still sell (in limited quantities), but it’s mostly for the wow factor.

Tesla is selling thousands of cars due to their more traditional approach to design

 

This creates a very harsh environment for radical innovations, something Microsoft has experienced in the early 2000’s when they launched their first tablet computer, a concept which Apple popularized 10 years later! So, a radical innovation, which was the result of billions of dollars of investments, resulted in a commercial failure. Some say the reason iPad took this commercial success years later boils down to its aesthetic design and user-friendly interface, which is worth a mention.

The biggest problem with this societal reluctance to accept radical innovations is that some ideas cannot be expressed through the parallel incremental innovation. The question arises then, how do we make sure that a revolutionary innovative ideas are not overlooked by the public, and how do we guide them to success?

In essence, the answer is pure marketing. An innovation or a concept is as good as its marketing campaign! In order for the end consumer to ever get to know about something previously unknown to them is through a strategic marketing campaign. This is open to reader’s interpretation, as results of different strategies vary. Airbnb, which arguably revolutionized the renting industry worldwide, started off as a small company spam mailing people who rented apartments on Craigslist (surprisingly, it worked). Apple, with the introduction of the iPad, let the design speak for itself. Another interesting marketing strategy that startups utilize today is to show off their product subtly, without giving much information, and simply wait for the clients to call them back. This works well with very expensive or niche products [dronamics]. So, before you go on to create the ‘next iPad’, make sure you have an equally innovative approach to your product’s marketing – without it your product will likely not leave the paper it has been designed on.

 

 

Sources:

http://dronamics.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citicar

 

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Column 7 ‘Number #1 Value; don’t waste more time’

I really like talking about values because of this; it is so diverse. Everyone has different values and opinions. You can learn or not learn from each other. Values give us a safe feeling; we know what we like and how we will act when a dilemma comes up. But actually for me it mostly stops here. I know, it is bad, but values for me are more or less abstract principles and no more. Most of the time I don’t even think about a value when making a decision. Values are in my eyes a good excuse to wait with real action. During this course I realized we have to address all the issues and values, but...what’s next?

I really like talking about values because of this; it is so diverse. Everyone has different values and opinions. You can learn or not learn from each other. Values give us a safe feeling; we know what we like and how we will act when a dilemma comes up. But actually for me it mostly stops here. I know, it is bad, but values for me are more or less abstract principles and no more. Most of the time I don’t even think about a value when making a decision. Values are in my eyes a good excuse to wait with real action. During this course I realized we have to address all the issues and values, but...what’s next?

Don't waste more time.

Sustainability, oh yes! I really like sustainability, because saves the earth for future generations. Justice, that is vital nowadays! So much things are going wrong, justice is what we need. We talk about it with our friends, parents or fellow students. Why? Because the idea of talking about it makes us feel comfortable. We, as Responsible Innovation students, think about the future and its problems. We are great! And there it ends. We all got our ECTS, and go on with our study…or

Did we matter? The last few month we heard a lot about real societal and environmental issues. Those we cannot oversee anymore. It stuck to my mind that we in the Western world all know about this issues. We all talk about it. But still the majority of the people does not change. People like the status quo. Only when real change is needed, they change. Why would we think that we can solve all problems with just talking about values and issues?

Value Sensitive Design is in my eyes the solution! As future leaders we can address major problems in the world. Not only by talking about it, but also by making it concrete. In my third column ‘Innovation for Everyone’ I already gave some advice how to innovate, even in a small way. Values are the key to building or developing a sustainable future. As humans we all have different values, but I think we agree on this; we need to enjoy life, on a beautiful planet in love and care for each other. So, why don’t we just start with solving the problems we caused by our self? Value Sensitive Design
is the future tool for more product and service development.

Hopefully after this course the great and beautiful ideas we have do not stuck on the values. Values are extremely important when developing a new innovative and responsible product or service. The knowledge about it is in our hands. The will and creativity is in our brains. The only we thing we need is the value of: don’t waste more time.

I all wish you the best in the next couple of weeks of this minor. For me, I finished this minor. I really liked this course, because it is about us. It is about this world who needs responsible innovation. This key element is now ours. 

Greetings. 

Corné Smaal / Business Administration / Erasmus University 

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Is it possible to attach various conflicting values to only one design?

The value of a design is what it stands for and reflects within its direct environment. What if one design stands for multiple conflicting values? Does that result in a negative effect on its surroundings?

The value of a design is what it stands for and reflects within its direct environment. What if one design stands for multiple conflicting values? Does that result in a negative effect on its surroundings?

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The various stages that computer technology has gone through in the past 60 years, has shown the shift of human interest in technology and moral values as constraints, to the current state in which we welcome technology at the service of society. According to Prof. Jeroen van der Hoven, moral values can be expressed in engineering design, and we can impart the fruits of our ethical reflection – concerning sustainability, safety and privacy to the things we design and make. This ethical reflection concerns a specific focus on the moral values, preferences, and ideals that form human lives, which should be accommodated by computer systems. Building on this information I wonder whether these values can be translated into requirements, and if so how, in the case of my Student Project Group topic; Urban greening.

The three questions that are raised in the MOOC build up to the final correlation between technology and values. Questioning whether technology can embody values, what values we should include in the design process, and how these values are translated into requirements, gives a steady base to approach a topic such as Urban greening. The translation of values into design requirements interestingly enough exists of multiple methods. In order for a value such as safety, security or justice to be translated into a physical form, it needs certain intermediary  steps. These are called norms, which follow-up on values and allow design requirements to take form. In my topic the values exist of safety, health, security, sustainability and environment. In order for these values to find their place in the community that we strive for, we need to create norms that the inhabitants of a community can live by. For safety this could be; keep an eye out for your neighbour to promote social control, or for sustainability; do not litter and strive for an eco-friendly environment by taking care of mother nature. The presented norms facilitate the process of designing in the sense that reason can be given to the created technologies/designs, without directly linking them to values.

The urban greening project is, as are many projects, based on specific values that can be envisioned through the proper norms and requirements. The question that is raised is whether all values can be taken into account when creating designs, as there might be an agreement on relevant values yet a disagreement when it comes down to the hierarchal order in which these values should be placed. What we found in our project is that some designs can consider the needs of every possible stakeholder, respecting all of their personal values. The value sensitivity of this design becomes apparent when considering all of the reasons why stakeholders support the project. Families see the possibility for a safer and cohesive neighbourhood, the municipality strives for secure and sustainable communities, and environmental groups acknowledge the importance of greener societies. The combination of these values is what creates the motivation to support projects/designs such as urban greening. 

 

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Is providing Value Sensitive services, always a safe and ethical thing to do?

Ethicsl-300x291.jpg

Since January till August 2015, 17115 people in the Netherlands apply for asylum. 6096 Syrians and 5090 Eritreans. In July there has been a sharp grow in refugees from Syria, see figure 1. Worldwide there are 19,5  billion refugees, including 3,9 billion Syrians (VluchtelingenWerk, 2015).

We are dealing with a difficult ethical situation. We’re all human, we all have feelings and a need for safety. But what about the safety and privacy of our own people? Isn’t the safety of our own citizens the priority? I think it is not possible to help other people when you are not helping yourself first. We’re are now giving a service to the refugees, but is this service responsible enough for our own citizens?

As can be seen in the figure 2, the unemployment in the Netherlands doubled between 2008 and 2014. The amount of jobs decreased between 2008 and 2015 with a factor of 1,5. The amount of the long-term unemployed increased with 10% (CBS, 2015). Refugees must work at a certain moment, to earn money. So how could it be possible that refugees find jobs here, while the amount of jobs is low and with a lot of unemployment among the Dutch? I think this is not possible. How will our citizens feel when refugees are getting their jobs? I would be angry and I would have the feeling of injustice. The Dutch party VVD says: “They travel further to the Netherlands because the social facilities and the economic perspectives are the best here” (NRC, 2015) . The refugees pass by seven other countries while coming here, while the head goal of them is to be safe. We’re dealing with economic refugees by then. According to the VVD,  the facilities for the refugees must be retrenched to decrease the amount of refugees.

According to the Volkskrant (2015) and AD (2015) are woman in German asylum centers systematically threatened and raped. When I read this, it really scared me. If this is happening amongst their own people, what will happen with our European woman?

Although we must help the refugees because they are not safe in their own country, could letting them in our own country be a threat for the citizens, which is unfair for them. My conclusion is now: It seems much better to help the refugees in camps within their own region.  Because than they are not a danger for our own citizens and they will get what they need, which is safety.

It is our duty to help persons in need, but this cannot go at the expense of our own citizens. Always look to both sides.

 

CBS (2015). Arbeid en sociale zekerheid. Consulted at the 18th of October 2015, Retrieved from www.cbs.nl

NRC (2015). VVD: maak Nederland onaantrekkelijk voor vluchtelingen. Consulted at the 18th of October 2015, Retrieved from http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2015/10/10/zijlstra-vvd-maak-nederland-onaantrekkelijk-voor-vluchtelingen

VluchtelingenWerk (2015). Feiten & Cijfers. Consulted at the 18th of October 2015, Retrieved from http://www.vluchtelingenwerk.nl/feiten-cijfers

AD (2015) ‘Vrouw niet veilig’: Bende-oorlog en verkrachting in azc. Consulted at the 18th of October 2015, Retrieved from http://www.ad.nl/ad/nl/1013/Buitenland/article/detail/4143751/2015/09/17/Vrouw-niet-veilig-Bende-oorlog-en-verkrachting-in-azc.dhtml

Volkskrant (2015) Onder vluchtelingen zijn veel religieuze fanatici. Consulted at the 18th of October 2015, Retrieved from www.volkskrant.nl

 

 

 

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Trusting moral values

There are so many different people with different values. These values are influenced by different factors and can so be influenced by others. So can we then trust our values to use them in value sensitive design?

There are so many different people with different values. These values are influenced by different factors and can so be influenced by others. So can we then trust our values to use them in value sensitive design?

War is peace as a value, poster from the book 1984

What always blows my mind is that there are so many different people and that we all have different values. These values are mainly influenced by culture, media, environment, gender, religion and family. Our values are important to us, especially in decision making. This is also the case when looking at value sensitive design. A process in which products are designed through an iterative process in which the moral values are taken into account. This is seen as a step forward in innovation. What scares me though is the fact that we rely heavily on our values in this concept and use them in our design.

When do we actually know these values to be the right values to use in a design? These values we have can actually be given to us by others, through these factors that influence our values. So we may believe we have the right moral values but when are they and how do we now? For instance looking at the book 1984 of George Orwell the government controls all these factors so the people will have certain values they want people to have. These people actually think they have the right values but actually these values are there because of the government.

So what happens when these values are embedded in innovation. In the book 1984 for instance it could mean that designing new bombs would be a value sensitive design because the country is at war with bad people and eliminating these people is good. Another example is that the government is always right and people see this as an important value. So when the government says something different than they said in the past they have a design where all history is changed. I believe that this isn’t a good value and isn’t part of our moral values but these people in the book don’t know any better. Another example which made me think about these values in designing and innovation is about Robert Moses. He designed the overpasses on parkways in New York lower than the standard. Assumed is that he did this because in that way the white people with cars could drive through while the busses with often black people couldn’t. The value of white people being superior to black people was so embedded in the design of the infrastructure.

I think that value sensitive design can really be an improvement when looking at the process of innovations. I do believe that before we actually implement our values in the design we should be really sure that they are the right moral values. Although it may be very difficult to agree to what are the right moral values. As I said there are many different people and they all have different moral values. With some of these values we almost unanimously agree with each other but others can give heated discussions.

I think it is important in value sensitive design that all stakeholders are addressed and can decide on the values. Although this may raise more discussions with more people and different values, in this way society is best represented. The more people with different values, the more chance unjust values will be eliminated and the more right values will be taken into account.

I think we should encourage people in using value sensitive design and that we should use it ourselves as well. At the same time we should use value sensitive design with great care, for it can have great impact on society as the example of Robert Moses shows. Having all stakeholders involved in deciding which values are important in the design is a good way to start with carefully using value sensitive design.

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We want more!

Our values need a facelift. We are losing sight on what is really important.

Our values need a facelift. We are losing sight on what is really important.

earth-day-20091.png

In an ever changing world we treat innovation as if it is the mythical Fountain of Youth that can rejuvenate and save our companies. The problem is that in that same changing world, we are starting to run out of things to create, resulting in a whole lot of junk that is claimed to be the next best thing. Greed is the inordinate desire to possess wealth, goods, or objects to keep it for one's self (1).  It is the perfect word to describe companies that innovate just to innovate, clearly they have missed the point on their way to their Research and Development sector. In this capitalist world we live to learn that we need to strive for more, because that is better. Now switch it up and read that statement like this:  we need to strive for better, because only then we can have more.  Granted the question of more vs. better innovation is not very fruitful, as it is based on belief systems and ideologies regarding which one is ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  

The words better and more both have a tone of desire in them. We all want to be better or have more and so we sometimes lose sight of why we actually want those things. So go ahead and ask yourself that question:  why do you want to be better or have more? You probably thought of things like: to get more out of life, to have a happier life, a successful life etc. Notice that the word that repeats itself is “life”. So if we have better and more, but due to our greed we have no life or earth to live on what was then the whole point?  Peel off all of our trivial wants and needs, and go back to what we need to sustain life: “Health”.  An important core value we forget, that we are dependent and actually in real need of.

Every aspect of our lives has its own ecosystem and its own “body”. When we are sick (not healthy) we do not work optimally, in worst cases we can even die. Now imagine if the bodies of our social, technical, economic and political systems were sick, would it not work the same way as it does in a human body? The same applies for innovations. When we do not strive for a healthy innovation system, then we have obviously lost sight on what actually really matters.

Innovations end and start with values. Only when we have our values straightened out, we can start thinking of their requirements and designs. As I mentioned before, when we only focus on more and better, the values that really matter such as sustainability, health and inclusiveness are put on the back burner. And thus we end up with a set of incompetent and poorly thought out requirements and designs. So maybe you will get more and better from it, but ask yourself: is it healthy? Does it feed you and the earth? Or is it made of the same plastic, that will be the only thing left on earth after there is no more.

 Sources:

 1. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/greed

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Don’t tell people how to adapt. Nudge them.

Incremental change to avoid public aversion for a product or system, following the example of the city of Stockholm.

Incremental change to avoid public aversion for a product or system, following the example of the city of Stockholm.

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After a long day of hard work, you step in your car to drive home. However, after a few minutes you already are stuck in a traffic jam. What compelled you to hop in your car during rush-hour, very well knowing you would end up in a traffic jam, just like yesterday, and the day before, and the day before, and….

Road congestion is a very complex societal issue. And even though none of us like to be stuck in traffic, a lot of us still choose our cars over public transport or bike knowing very well what the consequences are. Would there be a way to move people away from their cars, especially during rush hours, and towards public transport? The city of Stockholm might have the answer to this question.

On January 3rd 2006, Stockholm introduced rush-hour tolls for the main bridges in the city centre. This, overnight, reduced the amount of cars on the road by 20%. Although this may not sound like much, this 20% already proved to be enough to dissolve road congestion. However, public opinion was not on their side.

Before the toll was introduced, about 60% opposed this idea. And when it was introduced this increased to about 70%. However, this makes sense since people suddenly had to pay for something that used to be free. But after a year or so, something interesting happened. Public opinion started to shift from 30% in favour of this toll in beginning of 2007 to 70% at the beginning of 2011. Even more so, people who used to oppose the toll argued that they have always been in favour of it. This is very nicely indicated by Jonas Eliasson in his 2012 TED Talk “How to solve traffic jams”. But what would like to know now is the reason why these people suddenly started to support the initiative.

One major reason that crosses my mind would be that after some years more and more people started to see the benefits of this toll. They could still use their car, the toll prices were very low, and in addition, road congestion disappeared. And since there already was a (fairly) decent public transport system, it seemed to cause more positive than negative effects.

To me, this is a very nice example of designing a system based on intrinsic values in society, like the aversion to road congestion. However, since people tend to be egocentric and place their own interests before those of society, products or systems like this one might seem wrongly designed at first. However, the general public opposing an idea at first does not necessarily have to mean abandoning the idea. If it appears to work, implementing a product or system step by step might nudge the public towards acceptance. This of course should all be done within the frame of responsibility.

In short, if the public opposes a product or system, implementation in increments is required. And as Jonas put it: “Don’t tell people how to adapt. Nudge them. If you do it correctly, they’ll embrace the change.”

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Value sensitive design the good and the bad

In this column good and bad examples of value sensitive design will be discussed. The smart meter, the Long Island bridge and the Dutch neighborhoods.

In this column good and bad examples of value sensitive design will be discussed. The smart meter, the Long Island bridge and the Dutch neighborhoods.

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We all have things that we want, you want to buy the game console and the skateboard. The only constraint you face is the amount of money you have. You have to prioritize your demands and choose one, so the skateboard or the game console. Here you can make a distinction between instrumental values and intrinsic values. Instrumental values are values that are important for the sake of something else, here it would be money. Intrinsic values that are important for their own sake, and not to attain something else, like fun.

Designers also face these questions. So when you have to choose which values you are going to implement in your design and to which extent you will be dealing with these kind of questions. This can be used for the good or for the bad. A good example where value sensitive design used for a bad purpose is that of the bridge in Long Island. This bridge was designed by an urban planner Robert Moses. This bridge was made deliberately low because then busses could not drive that route. Why did an urban planner not want that busses would take that route? This is because of a racist argument. Black people took the bus and that route was heading to the beach and they did not want that black people went to the beach. These kind of racist urban planning ideas are not used anymore.  The government is doing a good job with urban planning. There are not ‘black’ neighborhoods anymore in the Netherlands, the value of togetherness is very good used in the urban plans of the Dutch government. This is a good thing, if the children learn at a young age to cope with different people it will make them less racist. I think that the U.S can learn from the Netherlands, because you have a lot of ‘black’ neighborhoods over there.

A good example of not implementing values in the right way in your design is the smart meter. It is designed to safe people money. This meter was also designed to reduce CO2 emissions for the EU targets of 2020 and to make the grid more efficient. If there was a smart meter in every house than every household would give detailed information of their electricity usage and therefore electricity companies could predict a peak and make that peek lower so that they could produce less electricity but they could provide everybody in accordance to their needs.  However, there are also problems with this design. These smart meters do invade our privacy. I will just give a quick summary on the report of how these meters can take away our privacy. You can use these meters to:

  • Determine how many people are home and at what times;
  • Determine what appliances you use when, e.g., washer, dryer, toaster, furnace, A/C, microwave, medical devices … the list is almost endless depending on the granularity of the data;
  • Determine when a home is vacant (for planning a burglary), who has high-priced appliances, and who has a security system;

Other problems with these meters is that they cost a lot of money. By the time the proposal was brought by the upper house, there were a lot of concerns about the privacy issues when implementing such a smart meter. The Dutch upper house rejected the plan on the ground of data protection. The designers of such a device should have focused much more on his value sensitive design. The privacy issue could be foreseen, the companies who would attain the information would even know, when you are home, how many people are at home and even what you are doing. This is of course a big privacy violation and the EU should make a smart meter without all these privacy issues. The smart meter is a good idea because it could help the environment, but it should be without the big privacy violations.

 

It is a good decision of the Dutch upper house to reject the plan for the implementation of the smart meter, because otherwise the smart meter would be watching you!

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Utopia revised

When values will be taken more into account during the design of a neighborhood, then safety, sustainability and human well-being can go hand in hand perfectly.

When values will be taken more into account during the design of a neighborhood, then safety, sustainability and human well-being can go hand in hand perfectly.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vancouver_Community_Gardens#/media/File:2010_Davie_Street_community_garden_Vancouver_BC_Canada_5045979145.jpg

Last month, the second edition of the so-called ‘ECF Idea Camp’ took place in Botkyrka, Sweden. The Idea Camp contained workshops, idea sharing and debate to help the selected participants developing their ideas with as goal to find ways to create so called ‘commons’, public areas which are beneficial the community as a whole.  It consisted of a three-day collaborative working platform, organized within the framework of Connected Action for the Commons, a network and action research program led by cultural organizations from across Europe. While this camp is quite new, the concept of commons is much older. The question remains: Are these rather utopic initiatives strong enough to fit into nowadays’ society? 1

At Idea Camp, a lot of different opinions and ideas come together. Camp participant and R&D grantee Matthew Fox asserts that “The Idea Camp is a miniature ‘pop-up city’ in itself, facilitating face-to-face interactions and enabling the speedy sharing of ideas and contacts. All the ideas came out of the Idea Camp stronger than when they went in, and we were able to help each other.” Some participants even see themselves as the ‘commons movement’, a whole new generation spreading ideas on finding ways to use public grounds in a way that is beneficial to the whole community. Others, such as British activist Dougald Hine, say to be inspired by history. Before ‘the enclosure of the commons’, the containment of the public grounds by the more powerful, local communities considered the heath and forests as common grounds where they could graze their cattle, collect wood and pick fruit. Hine is making a valid point here.2

According to Lieven De Cauter, a Belgian philosopher and activist, these thoughts on the enclosure of the commons and the utopian ideas that they ensue, make ‘Utopia’, the book written by English humanist Thomas More in 1553, still very topical. More’s disaffection with society back then, as explained in his second book, makes clear that the problem has already been there for a very long time. However, according to De Cauter, we should not focus on the utopian dream that More expressed in his second book. What should result from the current disaffection, are realistic solutions in the form of value driven designs. These solutions can come in the form of commons.3

Examples of this already exist. French philosopher Loïc Fel, has created a small common in a popular part of Paris. Back then, the place was being occupied by Afghan refugees. The former residents of the neighborhood brought them together and filled the common with trees, providing fruit for anyone. The surprising result is that that this idea worked out unbelievably well and that this part of Paris now has the highest biodiversity around. Another initiative worth mentioning is Parckfarm4, in the City of Brussels. In this common, neighborhood residents of all sorts of backgrounds cultivate, harvest and eat vegetables together.

Concluded can be, that doing basic human activities is a great way of dealing with cultural diversity. Furthermore, existing commons prove that when values will be taken more into account during the design of a neighborhood, then safety, sustainability and human well-being can go hand in hand perfectly.

 

 

 

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Sources:

[1] European Cultural Foundation – ECF Idea Camp: http://www.culturalfoundation.eu/idea-camp/

[2] De stad is van ons! Hoe jonge ideeënmakers de gemeenschap willen herontdekken: https://decorrespondent.nl/3437/De-stad-is-van-ons-Hoe-jonge-ideeenmakers-de-gemeenschap-willen-herontdekken/315204747242-5f526275

[3] Samen tuinieren, koken, eten en lachen, dát is de ultieme utopie: https://decorrespondent.nl/2909/Samen-tuinieren-koken-eten-en-lachen-dat-is-de-ultieme-utopie/134203806-f4905b89

[4] Parckfarm’s website (in French): http://www.parckfarm.tk/

 

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As Guilty as a Gun

In ancient Greece, it was common to have religious festivities frequently. During such events, the offering of an ox was an important moment. The day after the offering, however, a prosecution would be started, to find the one guilty of murdering the ox. First, the farmer would be interrogated. He would refer the investigators to the stable maids. In turn, the table maids would say that the ox was brought to the butcher. In the end, the butcher would respond that it was the knife he used that killed the ox. Of course, the knife can’t defend itself. So ultimately, the knife would be found guilty of murder and sentenced to death by drowning it in a river. After thousands of years we know better. Or do we?

In ancient Greece, it was common to have religious festivities frequently. During such events, the offering of an ox was an important moment. The day after the offering, however, a prosecution would be started, to find the one guilty of murdering the ox. First, the farmer would be interrogated. He would refer the investigators to the stable maids. In turn, the table maids would say that the ox was brought to the butcher. In the end, the butcher would respond that it was the knife he used that killed the ox. Of course, the knife can’t defend itself. So ultimately, the knife would be found guilty of murder and sentenced to death by drowning it in a river. After thousands of years we know better. Or do we?

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Recently, autonomous weapons became the center of debates. These weapons are programmed to be able to eliminate threats without human operation of the weapon system. This protects human lives, as operators are no longer needed on the spot. The idea of a machine that can judge over life and death on its own is terrifying for many. That’s why a system that requires human intervention has been issued; semi-autonomous weapon systems.

Semi-autonomous weapons do need human authorization to function (read ‘to kill’). Their advantage is that they don’t have to be operated from the inside. A good example of such a technology is the drone. It can be controlled from miles away, but won’t start shooting at targets until the human operator of the drone would initiate it. This gives more space to ethical decision making during the process, creating more consciousness of whether or not to kill. The operator can take environmental circumstances into account that the autonomous weapon system cant. The probability of innocent deaths for example.

So far the advantages of robotic killing machines. What is happening due to automatizing weapon systems, is that the act of ending another human’s life is becoming easier. No longer do we need to kill with our bare hands, man to man. No longer do we even have to pull a trigger, all it takes is a button. Of course, current air bombers also kill by the use of a button, but now, the person that has to push that certain button isn’t even there! He is comfortably sitting somewhere miles away of the attack. To him, the only thing that happened is the elimination of a couple of pixels on his screen. This will inevitably lead to an increase of civilian casualties. We are losing the human touch.  

Proof is the leaked military footage of a helicopter attack on rebels from 2010. During the video it appears as if the soldiers enjoy handling the helicopter’s machine gun as if they were playing a video game, instead of what they were really doing; Murdering a group of human beings in cold blood. These so called rebels turned out to be 8 war photographers, who were armed with nothing else but their photo cameras.

To make it even worse, people claim to feel that they didn’t actually kill those targets during a drone strike. The drone did. This puts us back in the time of the ancient Greeks! Autonomous weapons are still programmed by humans, semi-autonomous weapons are controlled by humans, just like planes and tanks are controlled by a human. So cut the bad the excuses and face it. One can never blame a murder on the weapon. After all, it is a mere tool to establish what the mind wants to do. In the end, weapons don’t kill people, people kill people.

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The robotic war, why should it be regulated

Drones are being used for surveillance but also in warzones. but the government as role model should set the right example in the use of drones so that privacy and risk with drones by amateurs is not happening.

Drones are being used for surveillance but also in warzones. but the government as role model should set the right example in the use of drones so that privacy and risk with drones by amateurs is not happening.

Drones

The robotic war, why should it be regulated

Wars will never stop, but with the current technology we are able to reduce humans in war zones.

With new technology on drones it is able to send an unmanned vehicle into danger zones and hereby preventing possible unnecessarily human lives taken. Robotic weapons currently in use range from RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) or drones are controlled by a human operator. These drones can be used as surveillance but nowadays are used in warzones as killing device. Also there are automatically aiming guns which see the heat from humans and is able to kill them.

But who is responsible and can we speak of a many hand problem?

Especially the heat detecting weapon which can kill without operator is interesting. Who controls it and gives the commands. And when the commands are given who is responsible for the action taken. How could it be prevented from possible cyber-attack or taken internally by the enemy?

There should be precise laws and regulations for these scenarios. The government needs to be aware that, even if they do not directly but indirectly pull the trigger, they are still responsible. The change of a many hand problem should completely be excluded.

What I found interesting is that amazon is testing to deliver products using drones. Drones can be bought easily by anyone and drones have been developing very quickly. This leads to unclear laws and regulation. Where is it allowed to fly the drone, what are the privacy issues and how can safety being assured?

In Russia there was a video uploaded where they attached paintball guns to a drone and as a friendly joke shoot each other using the drones. But could it also carry lethal guns or bombs. These are very serious consequences which could drastically go wrong without the right regulation.

When the government stakes drones with weapons into war, this could lead to experimentation with drones by amateurs or radicals.

Privacy is also an important topic. Nowadays drones can be used to spy on people in their private environment, for example, while sunbathing or spying through windows.

Government should be well aware of these negative uses of the drones and need to regulate them. Also I find it important that government uses their own drones in a responsible manner. The government is a role model for its people and if it uses drones in a harmful way, this will be a negative influence.

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Drones, an armour for the pilots or an untied gun?

Jordi Granés Puig - Nowadays the U.S. Army is using drones as the cornerstone of their war against terrorism. They are smooth, effective and don't risk the life of a pilot. With these considerations they can seem a perfect innovation, but we could be forgetting the ethical considerations...

Jordi Granés Puig - Nowadays the U.S. Army is using drones as the cornerstone of their war against terrorism. They are smooth, effective and don't risk the life of a pilot. With these considerations they can seem a perfect innovation, but we could be forgetting the ethical considerations...

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The case study of the seventh chapter is about autonomous weapons. Autonomous weapons can be divided in two categories: The completely autonomous weapons, which raise huge ethical and legal issues because a computer program is taking the decision to kill a person, and the semi-autonomous weapons, which are robots controlled by a person who can be miles away from the robot. I want to focus on these second ones, more concretely on Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), popularly known as drones.

On the recent years the U.S. Army has increased exponentially the use of drones. While completely autonomous weapons raise an unanimous outcry against their use, RPAS can be seen not only as a way to save the lives of the pilots if the things go wrong and the drone is destroyed, but as a way to allow pilots to live at home and work on the military base, away from war’s horrors. According to that the drones are a great invention that can save lives and increase the general welfare without any obvious concerns. But are they that good?

After analysing drones from an economic and welfare approach, we should take into account the ethical considerations. To determine if the use of drones is ethic or not we have to resort to philosophy. There are two thesis applicable to the drones case: The Extended Mind Thesis (EMT) and the Artifactual Mind Thesis (AMT). On one hand, the EMT, defended by the transhumanist philosophers, defends that when we are using technologic objects, such as a pen or a drone, they become our extension and we materialize our actions as if they were part of us. As an example, when a kid plays a videogame he don’t think that he has to press one button to allow his character to jump, he only thinks that he wants the character to jump and does it. Other examples could be driving a car or writing through a keyboard. As we can see, EMT would argue in favour of the drones because it considers them in an instrumentalist way, they are only a tool. On the other hand, the AMT, defended by the bionconservative philosophers, agrees to the EMT in considering the objects as an extension of the body but also consider them as an extension of the mind. At first sight that can sound very strange but that theory has lots of supporters. AMT supporters argue that the technology alters our perception and behaviour, leading to different reactions on the same person depending on which way he receives the information. Let’s take the RPAS example. Imagine that a pilot is driving an aircraft over a building where there is a terrorist leader but also lots of innocent civilians. If he was there driving the plane and he decided to throw a bomb over the building, he would feel really bad because HE threw the bomb and killed innocent civilians. Therefore, the same pilot throwing the same bomb may feel better (or less bad) if he was thousands of miles away controlling a drone because it was the drone who killed them.

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The Wakawaka

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We as the Dutch population belong to the top 10 percent wealthiest of the world population. We educate our youth to become citizens of this society by schooling them as good as possible and teaching them to come up with innovative ideas and products. We have a lot of knowledge in all different kind of fields because we always try to push the limits in our designs and often this leads to very good ideas and products, for us the top 10 percent. Sometimes we even come up with products we didn’t even know we needed them, and can’t do without them after a few years. What if we use all this knowledge and look at what the bottom 10 percent of the world population needs.

This is where the founders of the Wakawaka come in to play. After winning an LED technology contest in South Africa the founders discovered that there is a desperate need in off-grid electricity. The effects on the 1.2 billion people in the world living without proper access to electricity and light are devastating and result in a low living standard. This lack of electricity leads to large scale use of inefficient kerosene lamps as a light source, which are very dangerous for the health and safety of these people and because of its bad efficiency very bad for the environment.

The Wakawaka founders realized they could do something about this problem and used the knowledge they gained in the Netherlands and started to develop a robust, efficient, solar powered LED lamp affordable for people living in poverty. After 6 months and a successful crowd funding campaign the first efficient solar powered LED came on the market. The lamp has a very practical design and is able to provide 150 hours of light with just one day of charging. It is declared to be two times more efficient than any other solar powered lamp on the market.
Wakawaka isn’t only revolutionary in the design of the lamp, but also the business model that is being used. This is an impact based model, with as main goal to fight electricity and light poverty in a sustainable way. All the profit that is being made by selling the Wakawakas to people who can afford them, is used to provide the 10 percent less wealthiest people in the world with light and a little bit of power.
It will not wonder you the little lamp very soon caught the attention of all sorts of companies, NGO’s and governments. It won all kinds of innovation awards all over the world. Therefor this is an excellent example of how two people who see a big problem with large values can translate this to design requirements, and eventually contribute to solving these major world problems. 

I would like to invite the rest of the 10 percent wealthiest people in the world and use and combine our knowledge not to make the biggest, fastest or highest innovative product but a take a lesson out of the Wakawaka. Let’s look down with each other instead of up, and together create something with the most impact.

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Should we be scared of robots taking our jobs?

Robots are more and more often used to do standardized work. For example, in 1878 the very first telephone operator jobs arose, but since the late 1960’s the job is history. Nowadays when you call somebody the call is automatically connected by a machine. Not only telephone operators, but more and more jobs are being replaced by robots. Are we as humans even necessary in the future for work processes? Are robots taking over the world without us even knowing it?

Robots are more and more often used to do standardized work. For example, in 1878 the very first telephone operator jobs arose, but since the late 1960’s the job is history. Nowadays when you call somebody the call is automatically connected by a machine. Not only telephone operators, but more and more jobs are being replaced by robots. Are we as humans even necessary in the future for work processes? Are robots taking over the world without us even knowing it?

week 7.jpg

Robots are more and more often used to do standardized work. For example, in 1878 the very first telephone operator jobs arose, but since the late 1960’s the job is history. Nowadays when you call somebody the call is automatically connected by a machine. Not only telephone operators, but more and more jobs are being replaced by robots. Are we as humans even necessary in the future for work processes? Are robots taking over the world without us even knowing it?

Many researchers are now developing new robots and with that comes the autonomy of the robots. Self-driving cars, computers winning at ‘Jeopardy!’ an American television gameshow and even digital assistance like Siri, Google Now and Cortana. Scientists are able to create more and more advanced artificial intelligence (AI). The big question here is ‘how do you give values to an autonomous device?’. Future autonomous robots maybe able to cure people in very contagious areas, where risks are too high for normal humans or during national disasters, where robots autonomously search for survivors. Autonomous robots can have many useful purposes, but how do we actually make sure that robots won’t be used for bad purposes?

There are many movies where robots are being used for the good, but in many movies robots are projected as the downfall to humanity. Even Stephen Hawking warns that robots may be disastrous in his interview about the movie Transcendence[1]. In that movie, a scientist uploads his consciousness in his own created artificial intelligence machine. In this virtual form he has connection to the internet and thus the capability to learn everything in just a few seconds. With that capability he is able to control markets hack into databases and eventually sets up his own technologic utopia in the desert. His urge of power makes him create nanoparticles from which he can read and control human minds. Of course this is just a movie, but it is certainly something we must take into account while developing new and more complex AI’s.

For this reason a consortium of scientists and inventors (including Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking) have recently drafted an open letter on research priorities for artificial intelligence (AI). Among the stated goals are maximizing the benefits from AI while minimizing pitfalls that could endanger humans and even humanity. In the movies like Transcendence often a bottom up approach of the value sensitive design (VSD) is used. They design first the machine itself and then look what it can do. They find out they forget the value and norms created by humanity. The consortium of scientists and inventors actually says to first set the values and norms before defining the design requirements instead of the other way around.

Robots with AI can be very helpful in the future if we design them for the right thing.

 

[1] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/stephen-hawking-transcendence-looks-at-the-implications-of-artificial-intelligence-but-are-we-taking-9313474.html

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Automatic weapons: value-sensitive or poor design?

War and conflicts always express conflicting values: those between countries, cultures, religions, et cetera. In the last decades these value conflicts are becoming more complex with the growing use of automatic and autonomous weapons, like drones and computer-controlled bombs and rockets. Who are we protecting and are values taking serious enough in this design?

War and conflicts always express conflicting values: those between countries, cultures, religions, et cetera. In the last decades these value conflicts are becoming more complex with the growing use of automatic and autonomous weapons, like drones and computer-controlled bombs and rockets. Who are we protecting and are values taking serious enough in this design?

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A few weeks ago, I read in the Elsevier that F16 pilots prefer radar controlled rockets above GPS controlled rockets, because with radar you have the option to diverge the rocket when the pilots recognize civilians on the target ground. In this example we see that safety for the innocent is (still) important, which is good to hear. We are not fighting against innocent, unarmed people. The different types of automatic weapons, however, do not always give us the opportunity to do so. We actually transfer the wheel to technology, whether or not intended by human actions.

In the Second World War, so many flight battles have been taken place where a lot pilots found there grave in the ocean. Today, large scale battles like that are not likely to happen again, but on a small scale they still take place, especially in the Middle East. Very recently, it’s been investigated that flight MH17 is taken down by a BUK missile, which is led by radar to his target, where it explodes and spreads a hail of fragments, which causes devastation to materials but also to human life. Whether or not this was an intended action, it shows what results such weapons can have.

Automatic weapons are intended to make the task of a pilot safer. They can be targeted precisely, so that mishits are factually excluded (they still take place though). In this way, the value of safety for pilots and innocent people is taken into account. On the other side, it is still designed to destroy and kill. This is an infringement on the right to live for everyone. In war, other laws apply, but in conflict situations these weapons are, most of the time, used to destroy as many as possible. The enormous destructive possibilities that these weapons have, are not taken into account enough in the design phase. Otherwise it would be impossible to design such weapons. But so far we already are.

Automatic weapons also give people the feeling that they are never totally safe, wherever they are. There is always a possibility that a drone films them, a rocket will be targeted to them or a bomb is aimed at them by radar or infrared. This causes an anguished feeling, what can be the reason why so many conflicts arise when there is only the idea that the other party is planning to do something. These are things thought about now, but clearly not enough earlier.

So we can state that automatic weapons have the advantages for the ones who ‘control’ them, but they break other values, like the right to live. Is it ethical to act like this? Is it value-sensitive? Only partial.

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Do wind turbines safe or destroy nature?

The NIMBY problems of wind turbines and how value sensitive design could have prevented this.

The NIMBY problems of wind turbines and how value sensitive design could have prevented this.

The large-scale introduction of onshore and offshore wind turbines remains a societal challenge, despite its potential for providing sustainable energy. In the Netherlands and elsewhere issues of social acceptance have meant that offshore wind energy is increasingly being considered as an option, despite greater technical and economic difficulties as compared to onshore wind. The application of Value Sensitive Design (VSD) to wind parks and turbines could contribute to solutions that are more acceptable from the perspective of relevant values such as justice, sustainability and well-being. VSD is a way of doing ethics that aims at making moral values part of technological design, research and development.

Wolsink (2000) concludes from a survey in the US and the Netherlands that ‘‘most people with (alleged) NIMBY-feelings are not so much in favour of wind power at all’’ (p. 54), and that ‘‘the strongest impact on the general attitude towards wind power concerned the aesthetic value of wind turbines (p. 51).’’ During my study Technique, Policy and Management in the Energy and Industry domain, this is something we see a lot in the energy transition. The Dutch government aims to have 14% of our energy produced in a sustainable way by 2020 and 100% by 2050. Sustainability is a very important value for the Netherlands. However, people seem not to be so keen on installing solar panels and wind turbines. The “Not In My BackYard” argument is often used, but what does it actually mean? In the case of wind turbines the two main aspects are the noise they create and the simple fact that a lot of people think wind turbines are “horizon pollution”. Wind turbines destroy the natural landscapes in nature. This is ironic, since wind turbines are a sustainable form of energy production that helps to lower our greenhouse gas pollution. This pollution is also damaging to nature, so are wind turbines are a lose-lose technology? I don’t think so. I do think that VSD could have helped to make wind turbines better.

In the early days, engineers of wind turbines focused on maximum efficiency so wind turbines are a profitable way of energy production. I never heard of case where they took the aesthetic values of the design into account. This is a missed opportunity! If they would have invested more in “how to make wind turbines beautiful” it would have helped a lot in the acceptance of the technology. I’m sure if engineers would have worked more with designers it would have been better. Engineers often miss the experience with society and aesthetics. Designers have more knowledge about this, so they are a  valuable asset in the technology design process.

For responsible innovation, values are key for technologies to be successful. Engineers often start with their solution to a problem with creating the system requirements. This approach will not give you the much needed overall picture about what a technology must offer. So start with thinking about values. From there you create the norms to meet these values and then create the specific system requirements. Don’t be afraid to ask help from other people with different skillsets like artists/designers, politicians, economists etc. Working together with different minds really helps to create responsible innovative ideas and technologies!

 

 

Wolsink, M. (2000). Wind power and the NIMBY-myth: Institutional capacity and the limited significance of public support. Renewable Energy, 2000(21), 49–64.

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Architecture: the art of human interaction

Roughly there are two ways to interpret architecture. On the one hand there is a style that includes the fact that buildings are based on the way people live. And on the other hand there is a style that includes the fact that architecture can change the way people live. But what is important in designing buildings?

Roughly there are two ways to interpret architecture. On the one hand there is a style that includes the fact that buildings are based on the way people live. And on the other hand there is a style that includes the fact that architecture can change the way people live. But what is important in designing buildings?

Human interaction

In the 50’s the baby boom caused a population growth in the Netherlands. The Dutch architecture had to respond to this.There were different values included in the 50's, a few of these values: fast building to give a a lot of people a home, functional buildings and reachability for the car. A lot of high-rise buildings were built in a fast pace. Because people lost a lot in the war, they had different values than nowadays.

There was a reaction on this building style with the change of values. People missed nature, human-scale and life quality. Health and nature became more important. There was a rise of the so called ‘tuinsteden' (translation: garden cities). Human scale-buildings were built surrounded with green.

We can see that values can change through time. Population growth, welfare and life quality have a big influence on architecture. Nowadays sustainability is a important value for the current architecture, for example we can see a rise of self-sufficient buildings. Taking the future and nature into account in current design is something that belongs to nowadays designing. 

I think Human values and influence is one of the most important things that influence architecture. But sometimes this is forgotten and the building becomes a piece of art instead of a design to interact with.
For example the alt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. This is a very impressing building. But there were some reflection problems. Because of the parabolic mirror the resulting heat made some rooms of nearby condominiums unbearably warm, caused the air-conditioning costs of these residents to skyrocket and created hot spots on adjacent sidewalks of as much as 140 °F (60 °C). There was also the increased risk of traffic accidents due to blinding sunlight reflected from the polished surfaces. After complaints from neighboring buildings and residents, the owners asked Gehry Partners to come up with a solution. Their response was a computer analysis of the building's surfaces identifying the offending panels. In 2005 these were dulled by lightly sanding the panels to eliminate unwanted glare [1]. Afterwards you can think off it as a really funny story, but did really no one saw this coming? 

I think the history of architecture is really interesting. You can see how values are translated into buildings. We spend almost 90% of our lives living in buildings. This shows how important it is for architects to always think about what people need and the interaction of people with surrounding buildings. Because architecture is a way of art, architects sometimes tend to make a piece of art instead of design for human. I think humans are the best designing tool that exists in architecture.

 Sources:

  1. Information Walt Disney Concert Hall. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Disney_Concert_Hall
  2. Information high-rise buildings. Source:https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoogbouw
  3. WHEN BUILDINGS DON’T WORK: THE ROLE OF ARCHITECTURE IN HUMAN HEALTH. Source:http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.4.5633&rep=rep1&type=pdf

  4. Human Interaction Image: made by Lisa Gerards
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Planetree: VSD in hospitals.

Planetree is an organization that designed a complete healthcare plan for hospitals that incorporates all the values patients find important.

Planetree is an organization that designed a complete healthcare plan for hospitals that incorporates all the values patients find important.

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Some designs are brilliant, or at least, they appear to be. We have all seen some ideas that looked absolutely stunning on paper, but they turned out not to fulfil their purpose at all. When brought into contact with the consumer, some innovations just do not display their full potential. This is why Value Sensitive Design was invented. Originally created for use in the ICT industry, VSD aims to include the value of customers as much as possible. This is why it is often applied to innovations that have high amounts of customer interaction. A good example of this are hospitals. For the only purpose of helping people get rid of an illness, thousands of human interactions take place here every day. This is why Planetree, and Planetree Netherlands in particular, has come up with a complete healthcare plan that aims to maximize customer satisfaction in health facilities by including many of the values that customers hold dear when being treated inside a hospital.

Planetree’s healthcare plan has three focus points. Better healthcare, healing environment and healthy organization. Distributed among these focus points are 12 components that show what people find important. One of these points for instance is number 3; excellent treatment and healthcare. This is, in my opinion, the most basic and most important need one can have inside a hospital. Therefore, it is important to include this in the healthcare plan. Furthermore they emphasise, among others, easy interaction with technology, satisfied and motivated employees, healthy foods and exercise and transparent patient files so patients can look into their own condition. By itself, these are all excellent points. However, sometimes they go a little too far.

In component 7, Architecture and interior complement health and healing, Planetree argues that the construction and layout of hospitals can positively influence a patient’s healing process. They want to reach this by placing flowing water, aquaria, kitchens, gardens and labyrinths in the health facilities. Then I ask myself, how are kitchens and labyrinths going to help people get better faster? On top of this, Planetree wants to remove desks. How are patients and their families going to get their information on diseases or directions inside a hospital if they can’t ask for them at a desk? Also, as complimentary healthcare, hospitals are expected to include rooms for spirituality, therapeutic contact, usage of aromas, acupuncture and pets.

I can understand that for minorities, these types of complimentary healthcare can be helpful, but if the partnered hospital is not being built from scratch, they have to go through great deals of trouble to incorporate all these features into their building. This is only feasible if the results weight off against the costs. Luckily, they do. Planetree gives an example of Griffin Hospital, which went from 83% customer satisfaction to 98% in ten years. This is an increase of 18% in customer satisfaction. Several studies also indicate that the Planetree model has a positive influence on financial figures for hospitals.

The Planetree model shows us that VSD is not only applicable in ICT. Using the values of customers is a very responsible way to innovate, and it pays off. Even though the process of VSD can be quite hard and costly, it will generally be beneficial to the innovation in the end. The Planetree example shows us that even for services instead of products the benefits will eventually outweigh the costs of innovating. Using values in the innovation process gives something of value in return.

 

Sources used:

Stone, S. (2008). A retrospective evaluation of the impact of the Planetree patient-centered model of care on inpatient quality outcomes. HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 1(4), 55-69.

Coulmont, M., Roy, C., & Dumas, L. (2013). Does the Planetree Patient-Centered Approach to Care Pay Off?: A Cost-Benefit Analysis. The health care manager, 32(1), 87-95.

http://www.planetree.nl/over-planetree/de-12-componenten/

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Water design in UK: Cities of the future?

Water sensitive design essentially a design approach integrated by the UK to achieve higher harmony between water, the environment, and society alike. This newest integration can possibly be seen as dare I say, the design of our future cities!

Water sensitive design essentially a design approach integrated by the UK to achieve higher harmony between water, the environment, and society alike. This newest integration can possibly be seen as dare I say, the design of our future cities!

Water urban design.jpg

Many of our cities and towns have shifted to boundaries around rivers or coastlines, and make water extremely integral to its appeal and even design. Water sensitive design has been created for water management to integrate the water cycle with the remaining environment. Bringing all factors of a typical water cycle together such as rainfall, waste water, supply, and demand, the quality of life can be greatly enhanced. This can eve be applied to lessen floods, water shortages, and other risks associated with poor water management. This initiative has been pushed greatly in the UK, and could quite prove to be a pavement for other countries to follow. Quite possibly, this could change the outlook we have on the appeal, quality and even structure of the very cities we live in. Of course, by the time it will be fully integrated, our future generations will reap great benefits.

This could prove to be vital, as society can hopefully see water as more than just a nuisance, and can be truly integrated to accommodate our everyday life (though greatly enhanced) and the rest of the environment. So..how can it be accommodated effectively to where it doesn't become the hassle many have labeled it?

 

A major integration that has been flooding social media, Facebook and Twitter alike, is the implementation of permeable surfaces instead of the usual cement pavements. At first glance, it seems like  a beautiful design that just looks really cool. But many fail to realize it makes perfect sense in its actual function; allowing water to pass through to allow for sustainable drainage systems to ease pressure off the sewerage. This could mean the end of floodings as we know it, and having less problems with sewerage will truly make a lot of people happy!

 

 Furthermore, instead of letting water run down the sink and wasted away, the water could instead be directed to feed our plants and flush our toilets. Water sensitive design can truly impact water reserves and provide efficiency to towns we have never witnessed before. I can truly foresee this implementations being the design of our future cities. With the new age of technology and an initiative for constant improvements in efficiency and wastage, water sensitive design in the UK can hopefully be pushed on to neighboring European countries; and eventually worldwide. Being from Texas, US; I had witnessed first hand the impact poor water management can have on sewerage. A major sewerage problem in our neighborhood of roughly hundreds of inhabitants caused major turmoil in the vicinity. Many had to stay up late while the workers carried on their business, and led to very poor filtration and running of water in our sinks and showers. Of course, this was a few years back, and seeing how water sensitive design could have prevented a host of problems truly amazes me. 

Innovation is only reaching its peak, and water sensitive design encompasses the notion of constant improvement and efficiency. I can certainly see it being implemented in the Netherlands, as the constant rain can be turned to a storage and provide solutions for problems experienced not only in the largest states of the US, but worldwide. All that rain water can be utilized instead of letting it run off, and knowing the Dutch, they will act on it positively to enhance the country's already strong position on environmental sustainability.

 

 

 

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GM Food: Proceeding With Risk

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are organisms whose genetic material has been artificially engineered in a laboratory. Agri-biotech investors and their affiliated scientists argue that GMOS can reduce food shortages, scarcity of environmental resources, and weeds and pests [1]. Opponents of GMOS are mainly concerned with new, unquantified risks to health and the environment. Interestingly, both opponents and proponents are adhering to their values in their efforts in this fight. There have been public demonstrations to label GM foods, which might have provided a compromise between the two sides, but the influence of big agriculture in the policymaking was too strong. Sales of genetically modified foods began in 1994 and continue to this day.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are organisms whose genetic material has been artificially engineered in a laboratory. Agri-biotech investors and their affiliated scientists argue that GMOS can reduce food shortages, scarcity of environmental resources, and weeds and pests [1]. Opponents of GMOS are mainly concerned with new, unquantified risks to health and the environment. Interestingly, both opponents and proponents are adhering to their values in their efforts in this fight. There have been public demonstrations to label GM foods, which might have provided a compromise between the two sides, but the influence of big agriculture in the policymaking was too strong. Sales of genetically modified foods began in 1994 and continue to this day.

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According to Wikipedia, on June 16, 1980, the US Supreme Court case Diamond v. Chakrabarty ruled, “A live, human-made micro-organism is patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101” [2]. After this, companies began genetically engineering seeds for crops, patenting them, and selling them around the world. Most GM crops are engineered to express one of these traits: resistance to insects or viruses, tolerance to certain herbicides and nutritionally enhanced quality [1]. This is in accordance to their stated values/goals to reduce food shortages etc. However, the GM crops have been known to cross-pollinate with non-GM crops, contaminating them. This affects the grower’s ability to choose what is more important to them, value-wise.

A study on the long term effects of eating GM food is ongoing, with the consumers as the test subjects. There have been dependent research activities by the organizations themselves on the implications for short term human health, which conclude GM food is safe. Independent research studies report adverse effects to animals fed GM food.

Health Risks include antibiotic resistance, allergenicity, nutritional changes, and the formation of toxins [1]. Risks to the environment include GM genes escaping into other species, threats to biodiversity, and the exposure to organisms that eat the crops [3].

Since the risks of introducing GMO’s are unquantified, it’s totally irresponsible to introduce them into nature! It’s morally and ethically wrong to subject consumers and the ecosystem to a technology where the long term risks are unknown, no matter what positive values are prescribed to it.

 

Sources:

Image from [4]

  1. Maghari, Behrokh Mohajer, and Ali M. Ardekani. “Genetically Modified Foods and Social Concerns.” Avicenna Journal of Medical Biotechnology 3.3 (2011): 109–117. Print.

  2. Wikipedia,. 'Diamond V. Chakrabarty'. N.p., 2015. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.
  3. Scu.edu,. 'The Future Of Food: An Introduction To The Ethical Issues In Genetically Modified Foods'. N.p., 2015. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.
  4. Diks, John. 'Overheidswetenschappers Onthullen Gevaren GMO’S'. Gewoon-Nieuws.nl. N.p., 2015. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.
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Keep students from following Robert Moses’ footsteps!

By making sure Value Sensitive Design is taught to every future innovator.

By making sure Value Sensitive Design is taught to every future innovator.

Manhattan Express Way

An example that is often used in the discussion if design represents values is that of Robert Moses’ low hanging overpasses. Robert Moses, “master builder” of New York from the 1920s to the 1970s and responsible for many of the roads, bridges and parks built in that period, designed the overpasses on parkways in Long Island extraordinarily low. It is said that he did this on purpose, to discourage buses to take these routes. In this way, white upper class car owners were free to use the roads whereas the often poor black people who had to use public transport, were banned from them.

Historically accurate or not, it is a perfect example of how the design of civil constructions, and design in general, can contain values. But if I look around me at the faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, I don’t see a lot of people who care about this sort of stuff. And these are the people that will design oil platforms adapted to the harsh North pole climate, dams capable of disrupting entire ecosystems and roads with an even bigger car capacity than before. Despite the fact that we could clearly use it, there is no course in the bachelor that pays any attention to the ethical objections to this kind of projects. And our faculty is not the only one in Delft where Value Sensitive Design (VSD) is not considered such a big issue.

One of the most important things I learned about VSD, is that it includes many disciplines. Especially if you take the interactionist principle into account, which states that ‘value is created and embedded in the interaction between human and technology, both in how technology is used and designed’. This means a link has to be established between the disciplines of ethics and psychology on the one hand, and technology on the other. And this is hard, given that these worlds are as far apart as Schwarzenegger is from winning an Oscar.

That is why it is so important that this link is already established during our education. This can for example be achieved by working in interdisciplinary teams, attending courses at other universities and paying attention to engineering ethics and responsible innovation. Only in this way, we can make sure that future innovators will think long and hard about the values represented in their designs, the consequences of their decisions and the responsibility of their innovations. That is how we keep civil engineers from following Robert Moses’ footsteps.

Luckily, such a program already exists at our university. You can probably feel it coming: the minor Responsible Innovation is perfectly suited for this purpose! So my call to the Executive Board of TU Delft is: make sure Responsible Innovation is not only taught to the few students who take part in this minor, but make it a regular feature in education programs throughout the university. For now, I can only feel privileged for having been able to take part in this course, that gave me insights that will be useful in the rest of my career.

Image: Yes, that is Robert Moses' proposal for a highway straight through lower Manhattan.

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Genetically modified food: Would you eat it?

Column on the different sides of genetically modified food

Column on the different sides of genetically modified food

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Genetically modified food

The question that I raised above is actually a trick question. It is not really for you to decide whether you would eat genetically modified food or not, because you already have. The fact that you probably thought negatively about GM (genetically modified) food there provides us with the basis of the continuing debate about whether they are safe or not.

 

GM foods are created to enhance the product with respect to the producer and consumer of the product. This is done by creating a product with a lower price and greater benefit. This benefit can be durability or nutritional value of a food. The way this is achieved is done by altering the genetic material of an organism.

 A major example of GM food is golden rice. Rice is the staple food source for over half of the worlds’ population. Golden rice is altered in such a way that it has the ability to give off more vitamin A then regular rice. The newest golden rice adds up to twenty-three more vitamin A then ordinary rice. The importance of the golden rice lies in developing countries. In a lot of developing countries rice is the staple food but there is also a very high child mortality rate because of a shortage of vitamin A. Golden rice has been created for the very purpose of minimising children dying because of the shortage of vitamin A.

It has however, not been implemented yet. Although over ten years of testing, including field testing, has shown no adverse side-affects, companies such as Greenpeace is a major factor in not letting this product see the light of day. A company as Greenpeace writing off such a simple product which could lead to so much is ridiculous. They state it is done because allowing one GM food would open the doors to much more. I find their stance on GM food stubborn to say the least. How can an international aid organisation refuse to even look at golden rice with clear eyes. I admit, golden rice is a product which should be studied even more, to get the utmost trust in it, and should be distributed without motives to make profit. But the stubbornness of Greenpeace on GM food really struck me as odd. Products which can change the lives of so many by changing almost nothing should not be looked over that easily.

 

Genetically modified food is a product that could save lifes when used correctly. The fact that there is so much controversy about it makes it clear to me there should be more research into possible side-effects. Wiping GM food completely of the map however, such as Greenpeace does, just shows ignorance. 

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NS: From No Service to No Stress

Possible improvements for the “Nationale Spoorwegen” based on the value sensitive design.

Possible improvements for the “Nationale Spoorwegen” based on the value sensitive design.

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When travelling with the Dutch public transportation train company NS there is one thing that you will probably notice. There is a lot of room for improvement. Lucy has to go to work 5 days in the week and in the weekend she often goes to a museum in another city. Lucy will tell you her opinion of the design and the the possible improvements.

 Does the NS have a value sensitive design?

A value sensitive design aims at making values part of technological design. So basically it is a design in which values are of importance. So the question is: does NS include values in its design?

When looking at NS and its underlying values you could say it is a value sensitive design. It is for example quite sustainable. Especially when looking at the Green train initiative or comparing the ecological footprint of one train passenger to that of someone going to work by car.

 

 Lucy: I think the green train initiative is very good and I enjoy feeling like I am part of a sustainable way of transportation.”

There is however room for improvement. We will look at the following values: equality, reliability and safety.

Firstly reliability; let’s be honest; when you really need to be somewhere in time you either have to leave super early or go by another form of transportation. Countless amounts of time has Lucy been at the platform while a friendly female voice was telling her bad news. There were no trains, her train would be late or she should take another train which will take her an hour longer. Now think back; you have probably had the same experience once or twice.

 Lucy: ,, I have been late for work so many times. Currently it is so bad that whenever I have an important meeting I will drive instead of taking the train.”

 

Secondly equality, when considering equality in public transportation the first thing that comes to mind for me is equal access. This equal access could be improved for NS in two ways. Tickets are currently very expensive and trains can only be used by a select group in the public. The economic equality would improve by creating slightly less expensive tickets which would make transportation with NS better accessible for the public. Another way in which equal access can be improved is by improving the amount of people for whom it is useful. This could already be done by increasing the reliability, which would make less people choose for other, currently more reliable, alternatives.

 

 

Lucy: ,, Train tickets are quite pricy, during the week I have an OV-card so my company will pay for my expenses, but in the weekend I often carpool with my friends to save money. A lower price ticket price would really help.”

 

 

 

Finally safety, trains are often so packed that they will get dangerous. People need to stand and when a train stops or switches tracks, people can easily fall. This is why it would be wise to increase the capacity, allowing more people to sit which will make trains saver. Also there are still loads of suicides by jumping in front of trains, this is not just a safety concern for the jumpers, but also for NS’s own employees because of the trauma it entails.  This is why it would be wise to innovate on how to decrease this problem. Maybe by decreasing the accessibility to the tracks. 

Lucy: ,, It would be nice not having to stand in the train so often, usually you can’t even hold anything to stop yourself from falling. The trains are way too full.”

To summarize it would be a good idea to improve the NS using the value sensitive design.  This value sensitive design is a good way of including values in the technology. Values evolve around human wellbeing which is essential in public transportation. NS would do good to look into these possible improvements. If for nothing else, it would make Lucy very happy. 

 

Translation (not literally):  

Man on the left:,, Sir, this is a ticket from yesterday, it is no longer valid."

Man on the right: ,, Just imagine how long I had to wait for my train!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Satisfying values and norms with policy: a case study on Dutch public transport

As we now know after six columns, the success of technologies and services depends largely on the embodiment of values and norms that are important for the target group. Values, values, values. It stays quite abstract. How can these values and norms be achieved? Value-sensitive design answers the question. A case study on the Dutch public transport industry.

As we now know after six columns, the success of technologies and services depends largely on the embodiment of values and norms that are important for the target group. Values, values, values. It stays quite abstract. How can these values and norms be achieved? Value-sensitive design answers the question. A case study on the Dutch public transport industry.

Public transport

Innovations often appear because the old design doesn’t fit well anymore in the current situation, mostly driven by market gain. Think of the IPhone, how long will it take before the IPhone 6S becomes an old-fashioned design and the customer wants a new one that can do more awesome stuff? Not so long, because customers’ preference nowadays shifts like Wall Streets’ stock market. However, innovations can also occur when societal issues need to be tackled, often driven by the government and lobbying groups. Now, let’s think: what are two main societal issues of massively driving vehicles? Growing congestion and environmental pollution, leading to large economic and ecological damage. Interesting! Because these societal issues can be tackled with innovations in one Dutch industry: public transport.

Figure 1. Congestion

 

Figure 2. Environmental pollution

Using public transport instead of the car lowers the average emission of carbon dioxide per passenger, because of more passengers per vehicle, and reduces the burden on the Dutch infrastructure, because of less vehicles needed. Making public transport more customer friendly should keep current passengers satisfied and should attract car drivers, thus resulting in less congestion and environmental pollution. Yet, making public transport more customer friendly needs to take the values and norms of passengers into account, resulting in requirements for design. Let’s do a value-sensitive-design-check on this sector.

In order to come up with policy, I want to focus on three key values: affordability, comfortability and trust/privacy. Public transport will attract potential passengers when the costs of use are lower than cars’ costs. Also more place to sit and a quiet environment in transport vehicles will result in more passengers. Wide accessibility of public transport (disable-friendly) and short waiting times will increase the number of customers too. Finally, making it easier to check in and out with the ‘OV-chipkaart’ (Dutch' national public transport pass) [1], taking the privacy of passengers into account, will lead to more people using public transport. How can we achieve this?

Now the most important values and norms are described, except from safety (let’s say this won’t be an issue), let’s have a look at how these norms can be achieved. Lower prices for public transport can almost only be achieved by subsidies from the government for public transport companies. Nowadays, you have to pay once €7,50 for the OV-chipkaart and, next to this, you have to upgrade this pass with at least €20 for using the train. With subsidies, taking the train will be affordable for everyone. More place to sit, a quiet environment, wide accessibility and shorter waiting times should be the result of a healthy competition in the transport industry, where companies, seeking for more customers, are improving customer friendliness continuously. However, Dutch’ public transport, especially railways, is filled with monopolies, markets with only one company offering the service. Gone is the innovativeness! Dutch’ train company, called the NS, now thinking ‘No one is going to kick me out’. So, government, liberalize and privatize the Dutch railways, in order to give a signal to the NS: no more waiting for and standing in trains!

Figure 3. How it's often now

 

Figure 4. How it's supposed to be

About the check-in methods, I want to refer to a frugal innovation I wrote a column about in week 4: M-PESA. We, as a rich developed country, could learn something from the poor Kenya, where people are paying with their cell phone for public transport. Why do we have to pay a €7,50 entrance? Innovate the check-in system, NS, develop alternative paying methods, like mobile paying and road-pricing, next to the OV-chipkaart that is sometimes struck by breakdowns. And when you do this, please guarantee customers’ privacy and do not track down travel patterns for your own gain, unless when customers agree.

Embedding values and norms more into public transport will attract car drivers to take the train, bus etcetera, resulting in less congestion and environmental pollution. The government should play an active role in achieving this, regulating public transport with laws that improve and guarantee passengers’ values while at the same time, stimulating competition. We do not count on the companies, government, we count on you!

Figure 5. Laws protect values, look!

Sources

[1] https://www.ov-chipkaart.nl/home.htm

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P2P vs Social Media

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In case somebody who might not know about P2P, let me explain it briefly. P2P stands for peer to peer which is an interface where you can share media or information with other people who are willing to share. Even in social media such as Facebook, you share your posts, links and pictures, in Twitter you share hashtag. Although the way both P2P and social media work seem to be similar, there is an issue with P2P. If people share their own pictures that they took, videos they recorded or songs they made via P2P, it is totally fine. When somebody shares Harry Potter movie, it becomes illegal unless you have permission or buy copy right. As you can see people mainly use for the latter purpose because they can download something for free instead of paying money without going out. This kind of file sharing became illegal because it is serious financial damage on producers. They sell DVD, music and movies to make profit but if people do not pay they will go bankrupt in the end. In terms of value sensitive design, I firmly believe that P2P was poorly made. Maybe the founder did not want people to use in an illegal way but the design made easy for people to do this type of action.

On the contrary, I believe social media is well made from value sensitive design perspective. Unlike P2P, the main purpose of social media is to share your moments in your life with your friends or family. Look at Facebook, what would you post on your blog, most likely something which was fun, exciting or proud right? What I normally upload is pictures of my friends eating the food I cooked.

The amazing thing about Facebook is that you can press “Like” and there is no negative button such as “Hate”, “Dislike” and etc. This is because if Facebook introduces “Dislike”, I am sure it will be less popular, some people might feel nervous when they post something thinking about what if somebody dislikes my post? By only keeping “Like” button people can share something easily with others. Even if somebody does not get many “Like” they might be bit upset but that’s it nothing more than that. Facebook really became a new way of interacting with many people at once compared to chatting. I am looking forward to face a new type media in future. 

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Be the system, change the system

Why an extreme approach is not working and how to actually make a different!

Why an extreme approach is not working and how to actually make a different!

“Fuck the system” and “Fuck capitalism” are common slogans of radical leftist. These statements are quite extreme and criticize the predominant capitalistic economic system as well as the political system. Contribution in the system is no option for them. They want a radical change of order. Officially they communicate their message via demonstrations, information media and by word of mouth. Unofficially they attract attention with violence against police and graffiti or paint vandalism. I am personally not against everything leftist stand for. But I do not agree with any form of extremism. By being extreme people tend to be ignorant for other people’s opinions and forget to self-reflect. Either you are with them or against them. A really nice example for lack of self-reflect to me is the fact that on one hand leftist are official against commercial capitalistic companies. On the other hand they support them by purchasing for example sneakers of Adidas and Nike. To me they just criticize but do not come up with solutions for problems. I do see the problems of capitalism and I agree that we need to change certain things in our system. But I believe that one can only change the system by participation. Otherwise you will be left out of the system without any chance to be part of change.

A great example of this philosophy is the company who developed and sells the Fairphone.  They came up with the idea of a mobile phone were the production process is fully transparent and visible for customers. Every customer can see where, under which conditions and from which material his or her phone is made. As well as the process the phone can be fully disassembled. This offers the opportunity to replace batteries and other parts so the phone lasts longer and is therefore more sustainable. Their goal was not to get rich or become a multi-billion dollar company. They wanted to show the world that by participation in the system. You can achieve the same results on a value based and responsible manner. With this example they tried to change the system by being part of the system. As well as leftist they weren’t happy how things go in the current system. So they became part of the system in order change it. That’s why my message is “be the system in order to change it”.

 

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By designing around your values, you increase the value of your design

Value-Sensitive Design (VSD) incorporates all the lessons from this minor. We have discussed responsibility and emotions in decision making, the origins of innovation and its possibilities in poorer markets, and finally the role of risks and risk analysis, relating back to responsibility. As this is the last column of this course, I would like to reflect on the past few weeks and in the spirit of giving back to the community, give my opinion on value-sensitive-design.

Value-Sensitive Design (VSD) incorporates all the lessons from this minor. We have discussed responsibility and emotions in decision making, the origins of innovation and its possibilities in poorer markets, and finally the role of risks and risk analysis, relating back to responsibility. As this is the last column of this course, I would like to reflect on the past few weeks and in the spirit of giving back to the community, give my opinion on value-sensitive-design.

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Value-Sensitive Design, is, by definition, designing a technology while taking human values into account. It achieves this by emphasizing ethical values of direct and indirect stakeholders in a comprehensive manner. For example, designing a neighbourhood incorporates the value of safety. Keeping safety in mind while designing influences your ideas on lighting, urban greening, traffic lights etc. If a brighter light, or more lampposts are incorporated in your design, your solution could deter crime. In this manner, the value of safety (by users of a certain building or city block) is incorporated in your design.

How can we design these values? By applying Value-Sensitive Design, we define three building blocks: Values, Norms and Design Requirements. When innovating responsibly, we either think of values and design our norms and design requirements accordingly, or think about design requirements and plan norms and ultimately values. Both ways proved to be effective and can lead to very different effective solutions for the same problem. By following a different route, you gain a different view on the issue, stimulating innovation.

When it comes to technology, it becomes increasingly less futuristic to think about a world where computers aid us in our daily lives. This aid can be strengthened by giving the computers a sense of autonomy, to let them make decisions by themselves. There are already initiatives on letting a car drive by itself, with safety systems that can react on accidents before you can. Or a fridge that orders food by itself when it senses you’re running out of apples. When it comes to household appliances, we most likely want to incorporate values like cost-effectiveness, and convenience.

But there’s another side to this coin when it comes to drones. A drone is an unmanned aircraft. Drones became very popular to the general public when they could be mounted with a Go-Pro camera, to make breath-taking aerial views of cities, memorable videos of weddings and vacations, or making cool recordings of concerts. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fl2jeQDMZ28) but the technology is older, and more widely used in the military. Drone-Strikes become more popular with the world’s armies, as they cost less than jet-pilots and target terrorists efficiently.

But anyone who has seen the movie Terminator knows the danger of giving technology too much power and autonomy. While that doesn’t seem too likely according to drone-expert Prof. Alex Leveringhaus at the TU Delft, it does raise questions on incorporating ethical values. How can a drone correctly determine who, how and when to attack a target, and who’s responsible for when they’re wrong? How big is this risk, and are we willing to take it?

The first questions relate to risk-analysis, asking ourselves if the added safety-value is enough to maybe justify innocent deaths caused by faulty judgment by a drone.The latter questions relate back to responsibility, discussed in week 1. Who is (in)directly responsible for innocent deaths, the machine, or the army?

Thinking about these issues while still designing the product improves the value of the end-product, following the Collingridge Dilemma, but it does mean it’ll take longer before the technology is available. But most of all, it shows a corporation cares about their product as well as the values of its consumers, by taking responsibility in avoiding possible future product disasters.

And this is wat Responsible Innovation is all about. Incorporating values by thinking differently, and showing you care as much about your product as the values of your customers. Taking responsibility in what you design, and what you need to change in your design to be inclusive. And by increasing the value of your design and your thought processes, we become better people. 

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