Is designing for convenience worth the privacy breach?

I came across an interesting article this morning detailing the emerging trend that is “anticipatory design”: The next design trend is one that eliminates all choices — Quartz

Anticipatory design aims to design systems that reduce the “burden” on consumers of decision-making and choice, therefore freeing up time for more important matters and decisions.

This convenience, however, comes with a sacrifice, as mentioned in the article:

"For anticipatory design to work, an interconnected network of systems and records need to work seamlessly. This means relinquishing personal information—passwords, credit card numbers, activity tracking data, browsing histories, calendars—so the system can make and execute informed decisions on your behalf.

In exchange, Shapiro envisions a highly tailored user experienced based on one’s patterns. ‘The reality is, design is mass market, but with anticipatory design, data can create experiences personal to me—a user experience for one,’ he says, describing a convergence of design and data science. “There’s opportunity to connect all these disparate systems and use data to streamline people’s lives. I think that this will be very transformative.'”

I’m curious to hear everyone’s opinions on this topic after reading the article—is anticipatory design a noble path for designers and retails that can be used for a greater good, or is it simply making designers complicit in the data mining that is now a crucial part of company business models?

I love when people come up with an artful high minded way of saying “sell more stuff” :slight_smile:

Tangent, I was having drinks with the head of the Domus Academy extension here in San Diego and we were talking at length at the broadening of the term design until it has become practically meaningless. I think we are going to see a snap back or pendulum swing on that in the next 5 years. In the way that everyone has a camera and takes pictures, not everyone is a photographer. Similarly everyone that is employing some aspect of design in their work is not a designer (just ask all those people at Apple). My point being, is this really design?

Is this anticipatory design or anticipatory selling? It seems like a way to pencil out recurring revenue and make a company look good to investors. Is removing a decision a benefit to the person, or the company selling the good/service?

I wouldn’t want to be work on it. Other than the ethical complications… it also seems like a boring problem.

A busy of mine is a coder. Whenever we are at parties and he tells people they immediately get visions of hacking and high paced start up life. In reality he works on the code that is behind how ATMs talk to banks. Super important, and I’m glad he does it, but mega boring. He does it for the money. I just can’t choose work like that.

The faster we can get to a Wall-E utopia, the better.

Better yet, usher in the Idiocacy.

Like what?

And will people actually use this new-found time for more important matters and decisions, or will they look at porn?

I’ll cover all bets on the latter.

Probably the biggest issue here is that the idea of “freeing up time” discussed in the article distracts us from the idea that this is just a way for us to consume void of thought, which might leave consumers neglecting some important day-to-day factors. I’d be curious if they figured out a way for “anticipatory design” to responsibly account for our budgets in a meaningful way, or would this be counterproductive to their mission? I suppose what I’m saying is, are there any ethics to a branch of design like this that not only takes the consumer’s wants & needs into account but also what’s within their economic scope?

The issue within the scope of design is pretty dull but it’s important to pay attention to I think. Many of us use Amazon Prime and other services for the sake of convenience, so it’s obviously something consumers value—so much so that many are willing to give up a level of privacy to have it.

It is definitely important, I just don’t want that to be my work. Somebody would really geek out on it. Are they a designer though? I guess so. Just thinking as I’m typing. Dentists and surgeons are both doctors, so I suppose the definition of design can stretch to accommodate all these digital systems designers. Perhaps we just need more specialization training and nomenclature? Think of how many kinds of doctors there are, yet design gets lumped into maybe 5-10 buckets?

I think this kind of thing is people trying to make themselves feel better about their jobs. Social media is about taking user content and profiles and selling them back to themselves as ads or selling them to big data corporations. I don’t use facebook much because I feel that it sucks way more value out of me than I get back. I do use twitter, because I feel like I get at least as much value out of it as it does out of me. I think most people are completely unaware of this exchange. The owners and employees of these companies realize it and after the Trump/Alt-Right/Fake news of 2016, they are starting to feel a little guilty or at least unsure about their trade.

“design” : I’ve been waiting for a blow back on the overuse of the word design for at least 10 years. I don’t think it’s going to happen. On the other hand, I’m trying to move on, I’m going to start calling myself a “writer”. That’s far cooler.

There is no doubt this will happen and my predictions of the Idiocacy are not unfounded, but perhaps not to the extreme of the movie itself.

The question is do you allow this unfettered or is it regulated?

As for the question of design, undoubtedly, any new product or service is designed. Given the potential value and harm this service could provide, design seems to me the most valuable component for a responsible use.

Sorry I took it off track a little. I think it was more the influence of a conversation I was having with a client who wanted me to take on a phase of work that is outside my wheelhouse and trying to help them understand that while that was still design, I needed to bring in someone who specializes in that. I can manage it for them of course, depending on how they want to run the project… sorry, totally OT, but it was in my thoughts. I’m speaking at a conference in a few weeks called Design Forward where I think I will be the rare speaker there who is an industrial designer who also does branding and design strategy. It will be an interesting experience.

I definitely know what you mean! After all, an industrial designer, in my opinion, is much different than a pure UX designer although it seems to be true in many cases that both professionals need to acquire some knowledge of the other’s responsibilities to get jobs done effectively these days. It will be interesting in the context of education to see how these design professions are separated, the different design degrees students will be able to earn as technology shifts, etc…

Or will there be a base design degree and the specialization master. This exists, but it is much less formal than medical where everyone goes to med school and then specializes.