Conceptualizing Policy in Value Sensitive Design: A Machine Ethics Approach

In Steven John Thompson (ed.), Machine Law, Ethics, and Morality in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. Hershey, PA, USA: pp. 108-125 (2021)
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The value sensitive design (VSD) approach to designing transformative technologies for human values is taken as the object of study in this chapter. VSD has traditionally been conceptualized as another type of technology or instrumentally as a tool. The various parts of VSD’s principled approach would then aim to discern the various policy requirements that any given technological artifact under consideration would implicate. Yet, little to no consideration has been given to how laws, regulations, policies and social norms engage within VSD practices. Similarly, how the interactive nature of the VSD approach can, in turn, influence those directives. This is exacerbated when we consider machine ethics policy that have global consequences outside their development spheres. What constructs and models will position AI designers to engage in policy concerns? How can the design of AI policy be integrated with technical design? How might VSD be used to develop AI policy? How might law, regulations, social norms, and other kinds of policy regarding AI systems be engaged within value sensitive design? This chapter takes the VSD as its starting point and aims to determine how laws, regulations and policies come to influence how value trade-offs can be managed within VSD practices. It shows that the iterative and interactional nature of VSD both permits and encourages existing policies to be integrated both early on and throughout the design process. The chapter concludes with some potential future research programs.

Author's Profile

Steven Umbrello
Institute For Ethics And Emerging Technology


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