Why Design for Values?

We distinguishes three main interaction mechanisms between design and values, or three reasons to design for values:

1. Mitigation of value failures of design

New technologies can be rejected by users or society because of mismatches between the values the technologies embody and the values users or society hold; by design for values such mismatches can be anticipated and avoided.

2. Embodiment of values in design

Designers consciously or unconsciously incorporate moral and social values into their designs – doing this more consciously and better improves products, services and systems.

3. Generation of values through design

Design can have an impact on the values of users and society, and can thus deliberately be used to generate or stimulate certain values.

areas were design for values can be applied

The Importance of Design in the 21st Century – Vision

New Questions and Challenges

The start of the 21st century already signaled that it will be a century of rapid change and technological development. The international community opened the century with its millennium targets, research communities define grand challenges, and commercial companies aim at launching market disruptive game changers and moon-shot innovations. Developing countries rise to economic and political power, people migrate and flock together in mega cities, natural resources become increasingly scarce, and changes in the global climate become manifest. Breakthroughs in science and technology offer hope for the betterment of the human condition, but bring in turn ethical questions, including debates on the social implications of scientific and technological advance, and the distributive justice of access to beneficial forms of technology. Finally, the increased connectivity of the world broadens the complexity of responses to threats ranging from natural disasters to global climate change, resource shortages and cyber insecurity.

Multiple stakeholders, socially complex

In meeting the social, political and environmental challenges of the 21st century, the development of new technologies will play a central role. These developments are characterized by an increasing speed and complexity. The urgency of some of the 21st-century challenges require rapid responses, the number of challenges require parallel technological responses, and the rise and acknowledgement of multiple stakeholders make that responses are not only technologically but also socially complex. People will therefore be confronted by rapid and publicly discussed technological developments that acquire the character of quick interventions rather than planned and slowly enfolding possibilities. The risk of societal rejection of these developments is therefore realistic.

Moral and social values

Our vision is that technological developments in the 21st century, whether necessary to meet our challenges or made possible through new breakthroughs, only become acceptable when they are designed for the moral and social values people hold. For governing these developments successfully, setting longer term policy and research goals and organizing public debates will be instrumental yet not be sufficient. By the rapid and parallel occurrence of technological developments, governance needs to be complemented by mechanisms that guide technological developments while they unfold.