Do you DARE to read this post?

human computer interaction

But you will be damned if you don’t…

So, if you’re reading this article it either means you’re daring by natureand perhaps believes that “fortune favours the audacious” (Desiderius Erasmus), or you were tricked by the loss aversion bias, or you played into the hands of reactance because your freedom of choice was threatened… or you were just plain curious.

These are all psychological principles that are often used to get our attention, both in real life and the digital world. So, you may be wondering, what is the point of using these psychological principles in the first place? Well, I wanted to illustrate the power of using human psychology to induce a certain behaviour, particularly online. With this article I want to highlight the importance of the undeniable relationship between technology and psychology (i.e., the users), and how we need to prioritise this relationship whenever there is a human-computer interaction.

With the rapid advancements of technology and its infiltration into our everyday lives, we can no longer ignore the importance of how the use of technology affects the human being on the other end.

I’ve always been a tech activist, ever since the first day I switched on my dad’s desktop computer back in 1980-something. I took to technology like a duck to water and has always been the one advocating for the use of technology and all of the possibilities it encapsulates. Technology fed my futuristic strength, it had a way of igniting inspiration and visionary ideals within me, and it still does. But, over time, after being in the water long enough, I became vividly aware of the lurking “darkness” underneath its glistening surface. A darkness that, when heedlessly ignored, can start to follow you, so quietly, so unassumingly, almost symbiotic like, until it pulls you into its powerful depths.

It is easy to point out the benefits that technology and the digital world bring with, but it is an entirely differently cattle of fish when you try and point out its lurking darkness. Why is this? Well, one primary reason–capitalism! Tech companies are on a mission to monetise and capatilise on user engagement and data at any cost, resulting in downward pressure on their designers and developers to maximise on user growth and engagement. This monetisation pursuit has set off a relentless race for human attention, irrespective of the “huma cost(s)”. But it is exactly these “human costs” that never make it to the balance sheets.

So, how do we start to take the human into consideration? One word: ETHICS!

“A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.” Albert Camus

Ethics is often a phrase that often generates a sense of irritation in some people, or gets associated with a set of rules and gets left at the door. But,its importance cannot be overstated or overlooked, not anymore. In fact, ethics should not be a consideration, it should be a way of living and doing work. Imagine doctors did not live by their code of ethics, and debated whether or not they felt like doing their work ethically? Can you just image the extent of the harm?! Why should this be any different for tech companies, designers and developers who have the power to manipulate the human psyche and exploit their vulnerabilities?

Our lives have become so intertwined with technology, leaving tech companies with a considerable amount of power and immeasurable responsibility! For this reason, ethics in human-computer interaction has become indispensable and its value cannot be overstated. As such, every person who has the ability and opportunity to influence, has the responsibility to advocate for ethical design and development. To incorporate it in every tech curriculum, from designers, to developers, to online marketers! It shouldn’t just be a set of rules to read and then never look at again, but a guide of principles to help designers and developers create magic using technology. To use technology to solve real-world problems and better the lives of society at large. Ethics should be about empowering the user, not having power over the user.


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