This workshop will convene members of the human-computer interaction (HCI) community to ask, “How might our technologies be used for the purposes of evil?”

Terminator (1984), the quintessential evil technology, the one that seeks to end humanity’s existence. (Image Credit Dick Thomas Johnson, Flickr)

Motivation: The history of HCI reveals a sustained, if uneven, focus on the social consequences of technology. This is evidenced even by the CHI2016 theme: “CHI4good.” Now, the CHI community is experiencing a resurgence of interest in the ethical, social, and political dimensions of HCI research and practice. This growth is seen especially in research in areas such as participatory design, value-sensitive design, sustainability, feminist HCI, indigeneity, postcolonial computing, ethics, and social justice.

We propose an inversion of this theme: “CHI4EVIL.” This inverted workshop will work to build our community’s awareness, and anticipation, of how technologies may contribute to concerning or ethically-questionable outcomes. Through exploring the negative possibilities and consequences of emerging technologies, we hope to comparatively learn more about what doing good means to the CHI community.

Goals of this workshop are to deploy the tools and methods of HCI, drawn from a range of empirical and speculative traditions, to support our collective exploration into the potential misuses of our work.

  1. To contribute to wider conversations about the ethical, social, and political consequences of HCI through creative examination of the potential for our work to be put to nefarious purposes.
  2. To explore creative ways to support discussion of important sociotechnical issues across the various sub-fields that comprise HCI.
  3. To learn about the potentials and limitations of HCI methods, such as design fiction, for reflecting on and discuss negative outcomes of technology research and practice.
book cover of George Orwell's "1984"
Themes in Orwell’s classic dystopian science fiction novel “1984” still resonate today (Image credit: colindunn)

Activities: Over the years, the HCI community has borrowed and/or developed a number of approaches that we will rely upon, including design fiction, speculative design, games, design patterns, scenario development, and critical making. Activities during the day will include small-group discussion and peer feedback around accepted workshop papers. Participants will also collaborate around the development and presentation of new design fictions, performance pieces, or other creative works that envision and communicate the adoption of HCI research and design from the perspective of would-be evildoers.

Hal 9000. When AI goes rogue…

Outcomes: This workshop will contribute to the development of novel approaches for discussing issues of values and ethics among HCI processionals and the broader population. The outcomes of the workshop will include collaborative projects developed over the course of the day–a posted set of “evil” designs—that will be available online on a dedicated website for continued discussion, teaching, or follow-up work. We will also share information on the design of the workshop itself, along with evaluations of the speculative activities we used in order to inform future research and workshops in this area.

Read more in our workshop proposal.