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Blog 10 - Reflections/Brainstorming about future courses

Photo by yours truly

If you read all my blogs, you will see that I have a pointed concern about ethical design in our future. It's not something that dominates my life in any way because I usually avoid it. I predict that a lot of people share my concerns, but prefer to focus on the present, in a similar manner that keeps us from being concerned about the climate crisis.

Some of my favorite moments in ENP-162 were in class discussions surrounding futuristic topics such as robots replacing waiters, human enhancement, and AI. I found it stimulating and refreshing to talk in detail about the technology that is rapidly approaching our future, because I feel like our major doesn't look outwards into the industry as much as it should. The class as it is was a nice review of what we have learned in prior courses with investigations into different topics of machine design.

As Human Factors people, it should be our job to be looking out for the next best thing while also making sure it is going to do well for our future. Some of us will be working on new and cutting edge things, so we should be primed to think about more than just the individual human impact but rather the societal and global impact.

I'm sure this is covered in some courses somewhere, but I feel as if Human Factors at Tufts needs a philosophical base for what we are doing. Why are you doing human factors? I did it because it seemed like a good way to understand behavior and get a major balanced between business and design, I would have preferred to have a design major but did not want to transfer. I have come to realize that human factors can be an important part of life, but I see this gap for product philosophy. Maybe this is something taught at design schools, it should be brought here.

Why are there not people in companies that have the role of saying "what will this do to emotions, the planet, other products, happiness, etc." I think it would be good to have

1. A seminar devoted to current events in the tech world where ethics are debated so we can learn to form our own opinions on ethics as well as realize the lack thereof. Things like autonomy and cars are hotbeds, but I found a lot of concerns about modeling automation off of humans because we are angry and violent, the emotional reductions that can come from automating service jobs, etc.

2. Some philosophies should be added to the curriculum of the major or courses. I think that design is heavily related to philosophy and lofty things just as much human behavior is involved.

3. Where is sustainable design? I know I'm harking to a design major at Tufts (because there should be) but I took a sustainable design intro while abroad and it was mind-opening. Designers will help save the world and we need to be helping with that movement. I appreciated your recognition of the climate crisis in class. Maybe include a project or class where consumption, waste, and the climate crisis are discussed. We don't have time to waste.

Happy Break!

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