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Investigating Consequences with Our Ethics Assessment

September 2020

Article

Spotify Design Team

In our increasingly complex world, ethical considerations are a challenging but essential aspect of design thinking and decision-making. We created this ethics assessment as a self-service resource for teams around the company to investigate ethical questions relevant to their work. We hope anyone, including those new to this topic, can use it to surface important considerations when designing a product or service. Click above to download.

For background on how this project got started, we want to share some history behind this project to help make ethical considerations more concrete. 

We started the project in 2018 after doing some research on examples of ethical trade-offs in the wild. Diving into some insightful writing on the topic from folks like Cathy O’Neil, Joy Buolamwini, and Tristan Harris, we started to consider how we might apply these ideas of ethical product development in our 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 our work with various teams at Spotify and on the road at design conferences. 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.

Credits

Spotify Design Team

We're a cross-disciplinary team of people who love to create great experiences and make meaningful connections between listeners and creators.

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