For background on how this project got started, we want to share some history behind Spotify’s Ethics Guild — a volunteer group that creates resources and facilitates workshops to help make ethical considerations more concrete.
Lu Han: I started the guild in 2018 while designing for Ad Experience, a team of thoughtful people focused on making Spotify’s ad experience more user-friendly. After doing some research on examples of ethical trade-offs in the wild and diving into some insightful writing on the topic from folks like Cathy O’Neil, Joy Buolamwini, and Tristan Harris, I started to consider how we might apply these ideas of ethical product development in my own team.
Ethics is a lofty topic — millennia-old and subject to endless theorizing and debate. That said, we can take action by — at the very least — recognizing and avoiding potential harm. We developed the ethics assessment with the aim of putting this basic principle into practice.
This assessment has been our labor of love, and is at the heart of the guild’s work with various teams at Spotify. We’ve also taken it on the road to conferences like Grace Hopper and Interaction 19. Each time we’ve facilitated a workshop, we’ve been moved and inspired by the thoughtful conversations that come out of simply asking the right questions. We hope it helps push the conversation on ethics forward for your team, too.
Collaborators: Christopher Carpita, Eric Madar, Izzy Zelichenko, Katherine Topping, Masha Westerlund, Lu Han, Mat Budelman, Sara Aboulafia, Scott Sheffield, Shmo Chuang