Hippocratic Oath for Tech Designers

The suggestion there that you need an ethicist, it suggests at least to me that they're concerned about the addictiveness of the products. In fact, Tristan himself has written about that, and that's exactly what he says. He suggests that there should be, in the design world, a Hippocratic oath — just as in medicine doctors should “do no harm,” he believes the same should be true of designers of these kinds of platforms; that people who design tech, people who design social media platforms, should be forced to obey the same rules — do no harm.

Link: 'Irresistible' By Design: It's No Accident You Can't Stop Looking At The Screen

I like this idea, a lot. The problem is I don't think the tech industry will adopt it. Not unless the industry moves away from making money using an ad-based model.

You see with an ad-based model, you want your users using your apps/products/services for as long as possible. And you want them coming back as often as possible. Why? So you can serve them even more ads and rack up the profits.

If a tech company is in the business of making money this way, then it will be really hard for them to design their apps in such a way that stops the users from becoming addicted. They want the users addicted to their app, because that's how they make money. So you can see how implementing or following a “Hippocratic Oath” when designing their apps, can go against the company's objective of making money.

Now to be fair, the whole tech industry is not like that. There are some companies who are making an effort to try to keep their user's well being in mind. Here are some examples:

Edit: I totally forgot to include write.as in this list. Matt and his team at write.as are doing a great job with this writing/publishing platform. They separated the act of writing a post from the distractions of a news feed. There are no ads, even on the free plan. There are no “like” buttons. Comments are coming, but in a different, hopefully less instrusive implementation. This is one very good example of a product that is looking after their customers/users.

So you see some companies are already trying to look after their users, but more work needs to be done. I believe technology is supposed to help people, not bring them harm. As someone who works in the tech industry, this is something that I will try to keep in mind whenever I end up designing new applications.

Tags: #Bookmarks #Technology

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