While technologies, software applications and online services are becoming more abundant, competition of these products in IT sphere is becoming more intensive, and the decisive role is played by user interface design. Currently, there is a number of user interface models such as domain model, navigation model, task, platform, dialogue model, presentation model, application model and user model (Bidgoli, 2004). Most attention is paid to usage-centered design model, where design focuses on interaction of user with the system, user intentions and usage patterns (Bidgoli, 2004). While this is a highly effective and convenient approach, it raises a number of ethical concerns and dilemmas.
First of all, such design should address the needs of all users, regardless of their origin, culture and other personal characteristics. However, it is difficult to create a universal system fitting this diversity, and thus some groups of users might experience difficulties adjusting to software and online products. As a possible solution of this problem, I can only see high level of customization, and it is likely that mainstream of software industry is also focused on customization.
Secondly, usage-centered design is centered around context personalization, which implies saving and transmitting some data about the user, in order to perform automated customization. However, privacy and ethical background of such actions are questionable. While invisible collection of data about the user is the most convenient way of providing appropriate content and settings, ethical solution in this case is to base on informed consent of the user.
Thirdly, online services use such methods as link personalization, content personalization, authorized personalization and humanized approach to implement usage-centered model (Bidgoli, 2004). First three technologies are based not only on storing user’s data but on analyzing searches, usage patterns, geographical location etc. These methods raise such ethical concerns as privacy, request of user’s informed consent, the ability of users to control sensitive information etc.
Finally, humanized approach involves elements of artificial intelligence. AI questions have, most probably, the highest number of ethical concerns. With regard to user interface design, the main of them are what degree of freedom should be given to such intellectual agents, and to what extent should users rely on these agents while working with the system. In general, there is a variety of ethical issues related to user interface modeling and design, and software architects should take these issues into account while developing new products and solutions.
Bidgoli, H. (2004). The Internet encyclopedia. John Wiley and Sons.