RESPONSIBLE DESIGN PROCESS
In today's scenario, there is a shift towards access economy, where a service or product experience relies more on convenience, participation, interactions and accessibility. However, the access is currently not a privilege for all in our society.
Is giving voice to every individual always a good thing? For instance - on social media platforms, along with the positive and constructive messages, some people also post open letters, body shaming messages, hate messages, etc. Should there be a way to filter out information? For example, the live murder video that went viral on Facebook. Accessibility of information can also lead to a negative impact on the societies and communities. The same goes for technological innovations. For example, The use of social media leading to addictive behavior amongst people making them more self-conscious and insecure, gadgets coming out with one new feature in a year or devices that have to be bought with add-on products or services leading to more consumerism instead of promoting a minimalistic lifestyle. When we look at accessibility for consumers in a broader context, it should be more inclusive of children, elderly, people with disabilities, people from different cultural backdrops, underprivileged, etc, keeping in mind the limitations and barriers for accessibility and usability of products and services. For example. In a recent project, we were exploring the scope of designing a service for the improvement of sex education in the boroughs of New York and one of the main barriers we faced was that of different languages and dialects in the different boroughs. We were looking towards creating a more accessible and relatable way to communicate and create awareness amongst people via design as a language. Currently, There are a lot of journals that talk about Responsible Innovation but major companies today are not looking at improving the service or product experience for the disabled or the elderly, in turn leading to discrimination, frustration and inequality. Responsible innovation is directly related to the positive well-being which in turn reflects in a lot of other aspects such as experiences, work, charity, buying and selling behavior, etc, while irresponsible innovation leads to a negative impact.
Artificial intelligence is already able to replicate so many human tasks and it has been an ongoing debate that AI might surpass human intelligence in a few years. In that case, can we still say that we are moving towards positive or flourishing design? People are becoming more and more dependent on technology. The book “Positive Design (An Introduction to Design for Subjective Well Being)” states “Imagine a machine that could make you feel good and make you believe that you have a great life. However, you would only be imagining events, people, and accomplishments. Would this be a desirable state? Most people would probably be hesitant to use the machine and would opt for a less pleasant, more authentic life” However, this is not the case today. Machine care for elderly is being given great emphasis in places like Japan. People from all age groups are using Alexa not just to hear news and music but also to dismiss their loneliness, tell them jokes and make small talk. Technological enhancements come at a cost. People are becoming more and more isolated. One of the quotes I recently read was that “Social media is making us less social” People interact more with products and services than real people. There should be a way to design via the nudge effect for countering this and restricting the usage of these products and services to a limit where they are beneficial yet not expending the consumer's entire time, energy and attention.
Governments and private organizations are recognizing the significance of a positive impact and that of happiness in their consumers experience. A great example of this is the Gross National Happiness as a developing philosophy and an index used to measure the collective happiness in any nation. "The World Happiness Report continues to draw global attention around the need to create sound policy for what matters most to people - their well-being. For example. Denmark ranks 1st (happiest country) in entrepreneurship and opportunity , based on high level of social equality, high connectivity and the world’s lowest startup cost. Organizations are trying to cultivate a positive corporate culture and a more consumer -centric approach. As the employees and consumers are becoming more conscious and aware about the importance of their physical, spiritual and mental health along with the importance of environment and sustainability, organizations are trying to reflect these values in their product and service experiences.
- Vishali Bawa