Conducting "evil" computer research, in the name of good

The next CHI (computer-human interaction) conference is being held on May 5 in Glasgow, and will include a workshop called CHI4Evil, "Creative Speculation on the Negative Effects of HCI Research," in which scholars, researchers and practitioners are invited to "anticipate and reflect on the potential downsides of our technology design, research, and implementation" through design fiction, speculative design, and other tools.

The call for papers asks submitters to "articulate a negative use or potential misuse of a technology; ideally focusing on technologies that are emerging now and that are relevant to the HCI community."

It sounds like a fascinating example of "abusability testing", a new way of thinking about security-by-design that incorporates the ethical questions that have sparked the techlash. I'm looking forward to reading and watching the proceedings of this one.

Motivation: The history of HCI reveals a sustained, if uneven, focus on the social consequences of technology. This is evidenced even by the CHI2016 theme: "CHI4good." Now, the CHI community is experiencing a resurgence of interest in the ethical, social, and political dimensions of HCI research and practice. This growth is seen especially in research in areas such as participatory design, value-sensitive design, sustainability, feminist HCI, indigeneity, postcolonial computing, ethics, and social justice.

We propose an inversion of this theme: "CHI4EVIL." This inverted workshop will work to build our community's awareness, and anticipation, of how technologies may contribute to concerning or ethically-questionable outcomes. Through exploring the negative possibilities and consequences of emerging technologies, we hope to comparatively learn more about what doing good means to the CHI community.


(via Beyond the Beyond)

(Image: Giuseppe Milo, CC-BY)