Ethical Assessment of Future-Oriented Design Scenarios

Veikko Ikonen and Eija Kaasinen


This paper shares experiences of ethical assessment of future-oriented design scenarios. Scenario-Based Design has been implemented widely to the concept and product development processes. Especially in the development of Information and Communication Technologies the Scenario-Based Design approach has been utilized though with different variations and modifications. Ethical issues have been tackled usually in some level in our scenario assessments. Especially in user evaluations of scenarios the ethics of design has been an important issue to discuss and research. Lately questions concerning the ethics of ambient intelligence have also strongly arisen. Ethical challenges of mobile-centric ambient intelligence are multifaceted. The technology should be safe and secure as such, the applications should be safe and secure, and human values such as privacy, self-control, trust etc. should not be violated by the technology or the applications. These ethical issues are frequently raised as important factors in user requirement definition process. However it seems that we have no validated procedure for ethical assessment in early concept development phase of product development process. Our aim is to meet this challenge by developing a coherent approach and methodology for ethical assessment of design scenarios. In this paper we give examples of our previous project where ethical issues have been considered as a design requirement and focus on particularly to the ongoing Minami -project where we have introduced ethical guidelines as a design instrument.