The Moral-IT Deck: A Tool for Ethics by Design

This talk introduces the Moral-IT deck, a Responsible Research and Innovation toolkit built to support designers’ reflection on ethical issues when creating new technologies.

Awareness of technologists’ responsibilities is growing as it no longer becomes sustainable to focus purely on building functioning systems, but instead they need to consider the wider social, ethical and legal implications of their work. The toolkit uses physical ideation cards, a design tool popular in human computer interaction research. The cards prompt engagement with digital ethics concepts by posing questions about requirements from law, privacy, security and ethics frameworks in a more accessible, visually appealing card-based form.

In this talk, Lachlan Urquhart will describe a user-friendly impact assessment board that has been developed. It poses questions about risks (including ranking their severity), considering the likelihood of occurrence, mapping out appropriate safeguards, and formulating strategies for implementing the safeguards. Lachlan will also discuss our empirical evaluation of the toolkit through a series of workshops using focus groups and questionnaires, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of a card-based approach, findings from data analysed, and lessons for building ethics into design. What does the use of such cards could tell us about cards as a tool, the technologies under discussion, and the nature of the ethics of emerging technology?


Dr Lachlan Urquhart is a Lecturer in Technology Law at the University of Edinburgh and Visiting Researcher at Horizon, University of Nottingham. He has a multidisciplinary background in computer science (PhD) and law (LL.B; LL.M). His main research interests are in human computer interaction, ubiquitous computing, data protection and cybersecurity. He has won over £2m in grants from funding bodies including from EPSRC, ESRC, AHRC, Universitas 21, Impact Accelerator Funds, and Research Priority Funds. For recent publications and project activities, see here.


Seminar event recording


First broadcast on 7 October 2020.

This recording is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

To watch in full screen mode via Media Hopper, click here.

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