Mikal Hallstrup of Designit.dk frames the dilemmas faced by designers, particularly when their product is intended for an entirely different culture or geography. Here's a snippet:
Prabhu Kandachar, associate professor at TUDelft, told a story that illustrates this ethical dilemma perfectly. A company developed an affordable ultra-sound scanner for the Indian market. It was meant to improve pregnancy healthcare and pregnant women's quality of life. But the company soon discovered that the scanners were being used for gender selection.
How should the company deal with this? Stop designing? Seek answers from the ethical experts? Keep designing, learning and trying to solve something that seems unsolvable? Or proactively attempt to design new behaviour patterns and value sets in the country so the product is used as intended? That's according to a western value set, at least.
As a designer, I think the way forward is focusing on context. Address and understand the underlying contradictions - whether they be cultural, economic or social - and make the solution fit. And most importantly, remember that policies and visions alone won't bring tangible differences to users' everyday lives - to achieve this, we need well-designed products and services.
What do you think is the responsibility of the designer? What is the role of ethics in product design?
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