Ethical Design? No Thanks.
Will design ethics save design? As the broader design community becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the structures and clients it serves, a growing movement seeks to integrate ethics into design practice. But this prioritises individual decisions and values over critical analysis of socio-political and economic outcomes. The call for ethics indemnifies designers and obfuscates the inherent problems of their work, resulting in the celebration of projects that at their core problematic, such as digital wellness, autonomous cars and inclusive facial recognition.
Building on the essay “On Weaponised Design,” and an ongoing multi-year research and practice project with Tactical Tech, Design Lead Cade Diehm will explore how design has enabled a decade of absurdity and examine how design ethics threatens to neutralise both the critique of outcomes and the potential contribution of design to a radically reimagined world.
Cade is a designer, writer and researcher. His practice focuses on weaponised design, infrastructure politics, and the precariousness of online life. After prototyping Signal with Open Whisper Systems, he spent four years designing for secure software and emerging cryptocurrency technologies. He was the head of design at SpiderOak, a Snowden-approved cloud storage company, researching new approaches to web of trust and design-led information security. Since 2017, he is the Design Lead at Tactical Tech and resides in Berlin, Germany.