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The Future will be Ethical. Or won’t be.

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Last week, UX Connections went to Amsterdam to attend the 12th edition of a conference organised each year by The Next Web. Most important hub in europe in terms of new technologies, this event attracts a wide diversity of players and enthusiasts. Startups, investors, theoreticians and major figures of the industry join together to discuss and draw up the picture of the technological world we live in. And to introduce their vision for the future…

Here is a post on what’s been the main takeaway of this event for me.

   

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Humanism or alienation?

Rich in people and opinions, the 2017 edition of TNW seems to get everybody to agree on one thing: the necessity of redefining the place of ethics with new technologies. The technological acceleration described by most speakers can be mind boggling and sometimes leave some fundamentals behind. And so, we would have switched from technology that would serve human’s needs to technologies that create compulsive and addictive behaviours.

   

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Mastering the beast

With his book Hooked, How to build habit-forming products published in 2013, Nir Eval (@nireyal) delivered a guide towards user’s adoption and addiction to product. 4 years later, the author gives tips for helping users to switch off. What if platforms such as Facebook, online gaming or gambling adopted a responsible browsing policy?

   

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 So what about humans?

On day one, Amber Case (@caseorganic) took us on a journey through Calm Technology. Unlike the ones that constantly request for our attention, calm technologies stay out of the way and quietly accompany us in our daily life. They replace humans at the center of the design process and rationalise their usage in a non-intrusive movement. Because after all, “a person’s primary task should not be computing, but being human”.

 

James Temple (@templeoflove), creative director at R/GA, has another way to put humanity in perspective with new tech. With his talk entitled “More Samantha than Siri”, Temple wishes technologies and AI in particular were incorporating more human behaviours. A quick glance at his work with Nike On Demand let’s us see the great potential of such an approach for brand likability.

 
   

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Designing for freedom

With so many voices raising the same concerns, it appears that designing freedom enabling products will be one of the most important challenges of the coming times. As designers, we have a responsibility in the products we build. We need to keep in mind that the things we put in the hands of people have a great societal impact and can dramatically transform us, not always for the best.

 

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