What is the Ethical Stack?
The Ethical Stack is a series of tools to support creators of new connected technology to reflect on their product’s ethical and social impacts.
Try out the prototype https://ethicalstack.virteuproject.eu/
The process of developing the Ethical Stack
by Annelie Berner, VIRT-EU’s Principal Investigator at CIID
There is a lot of talk about ethics and technology but what can designers and developers actually do? How can we confront the present and future ethical challenges as we create connective tech? The Ethical Stack is an interface designed to structure and facilitate considering ethics when building new connected technology. This is a series of tools to support creators of new connected technology to reflect on their products ethical and social impacts. You can view the site on your desktop or laptop.
Please keep in mind that this is an “early beta” version of the new site that shows the overall design direction, concept and experience. The site is imperfect—there are still some glitches, some interactions we could not finish within the time that we had.
We want your feedback!
- Did you find this useful?
- Did this affect your understanding of ethics in relation to your work?
- Would you be up for talking to us as we collect feedback and understand the impact of this prototype?
Many technical aspects of the site would improve if we were able to continue to develop it.
As noted above, this is an “early beta” of the site. In fact, you might say it is a “very early beta” or even an “alpha” version. There are many known aspects that could be frustrating, including:
- You cannot go back within the steps of the Stack.
- You cannot save.
- Our ethical questions and feedback are not exactly specific to your product.
- It does not work on mobile.
Our main goal right now is to give you an initial view of where we are going with the site and to get any initial feedback.
How did this come about?
For the last three years, together with our partners in VIRT-EU, we have been researching ethics, ethical tools and processes within technology design and development, conducting co-creation, co-design and finally testing sessions with entrepreneurs, developers and designers in Copenhagen, Amsterdam and London. We worked with our expert partners at LSE, ITU and ORG to ensure that we are designing and delivering tools that support ethics as we see it. Check out our workshops, experiences, and talks.
Through these sessions, we developed the interactive interface of the Ethical Stack and its many accompanying materials. Developing the Ethical Stack entailed everything from wireframing and testing to rich graphic and user interface design to programming and user experience tests. Soon we’ll share a full story about that lengthy interdisciplinary process.
The project is over but if we could continue, we would:
- Save: We would give users the ability to save their stacks, return to them and edit, as well as create a special “diff” feature where you could see the history of your stack over time.
- Custom questions: With more development time, we could work on building the way that the ethical questions relate to your specific product elements or the layers upon which you entered them.
- Update questions: While the questions we provide here should be relevant for at least the next few years, we would create a way for our collaborators to input or change the questions that are presented per Ethical Stack.
- Integrate conflicts: The clashes between values are as intriguing to explore as the issues around the values themselves.
- Create a solutions library: Work with our community to design a solutions library to the challenges we pose.
- Become multilingual: We know that English is not the only language that product teams speak, and would love to accommodate this.
With this beta site online, we now shift into collecting cases of how it was used, what it was useful for, and more. Ideally, we will find a way to continue to develop and evolve the Ethical Stack. Stay tuned for a long read on the process we took to get to where we are now.
As you can imagine, creating the Ethical Stack has been a massive team effort both within CIID and together with our partners at LSE, ITU and ORG. So, here are the people who behind the Ethical Stack:
Annelie Berner: PI, concept design and development, copywriting, design direction, content curation & strategy, software development
Monika Seyfried: concept design and development, video-making, art direction
Raffaella Rovida: strategy & concept development
Peter Kuhberg: concept design & development, software development
Blair Johnsrude: graphic & interactive design, concept design & development, art direction
Calle Nordenskjöld: graphic & interactive design, concept design & development, art direction
Irina Shklovski: PI, scientific coordinator, concept development, content curation, strategy, ethics framework, copywriting
Funda Ustek-Spilda: content curation, strategy, ethics framework, copywriting
Alison Powell: PI, ethics framework
Sebastian Lehuede: ethics framework
Javier Ruiz: ethical tools review, questions
See other tools made by VIRT-EU
VIRT-EU’S paper tools are offline resources designed to ask difficult questions, push at assumptions or forgotten uncertainties. Each of the tools was made through extensive research, co-creation and design process led by CIID Research with close collaboration with ITU, LSE and ORG as part of VIRT-EU.Learn more
PESIA is a questionnaire that helps developers and designers assess their privacy, ethical, and social impacts. PESIA was created by POLITO.Learn more
Our workshop materials aim at helping you facilitate decision-making focusing on ethics as a process.
Immerse participants in a group process to negotiate difficult decision-making when building connected devices.Learn more
Develop a shared language about ethics and help participants secure an appropriation of policy developments.Learn more