Ethics and Design?

I was struck by the depth of reaction to mentions of ethics and design at recent presentations at Carnegie Mellon and an IxD conference.

In all four situations, overwhelmingly the group Q&A as well as 1-on-1 follow-up discussions after my talks resonated with the responsibility of designers in navigating between “controlling choices” of users vs. “enabling bad choices”.

How do we help design students understand their responsibility? What historical concepts and values ought we to offer for this “age of tech”? Could there be a design elective on “Ethics and Design”?

This recent NYTimes piece speaks to the role of education in this regard. Perhaps it’s all “of the moment”.

One of my great influences speaks to the distinction between ethics and morality with direct application to design (this paper a consistent favorite among students). [PDF version]