Speaker: Jeffrey Kok Hui Chan, PhD | Assistant Professor at Singapore University of Technology and Design
Time: October 6th, 2023, 12:00 – 12:30 PM (CST)
Zoom Link: https://utexas.zoom.us/j/91425104430
Abstract: To do good, design ideas are often congealed in a form—a deliberate configuration that is material or immaterial, tangible or intangible—that can interact with us. What then is a good form? Horst Rittel suggested that the good form is one that avoids design failures; it should accomplish what it was intended for, and it also should not introduce unforeseen, unintended and undesirable side and after-effects. On the other hand, Christopher Alexander argued that tradition is the source of good forms, while Robert Grudin thought that the good form is truthful. In this presentation, the good form will be discussed in relation to the comportment frame of ethics (rather than the ‘detached’ or deliberative frame of ethics), where design, and also affordances, are argued to play increasingly pivotal roles in shaping our ethical interactions with automated and autonomous machines. To draw out the contours of this argument, three concise examples where the good form is salient will be examined: the design of the ‘kill switch’ on escalators, the choice architecture of a nuclear counterstrike, and the blinders of generative AI chatbots.
About: Jeffrey Chan is assistant professor in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) cluster and the Design and Artificial Intelligence (DAI) program at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). He conducts research and teaching at the intersection of design, ethics and cities. Recently, he has started to focus on mapping the ethical issues and challenges of social robotics in public spaces. He is also author of two books, Urban Ethics in the Anthropocene (2019), and Sharing by Design (2020). His most recent web-article on the ethics of chatbots can be found at: https://eu.boell.org/en/2023/09/08/ethics-communicating-generative-ai-chatbots.