To be successful, policy must anticipate a broad range of constituents. Yet, all too often, technology policy is written with primarily mainstream populations in mind. In response to this challenge, the UW Tech Policy Lab developed the Diverse Voices method in 2015. The method uses short, targeted conversations about emerging technology with experiential experts from under-represented groups to provide feedback on draft tech policy documents. In new research published in Ethics and Information Technology, Tech Policy Lab researchers Meg Young and Lassana Magassa, with Co-Director Batya Friedman, introduce the Diverse Voices method.
The article, “Toward Inclusive Tech Policy Design: A Method for Underrepresented Voices to Strengthen Tech Policy Documents”, is available open access through Ethics and Information Technology.
The authors, drawing on Value Sensitive Design and discount evaluation methods, introduce the Diverse Voices method for strengthening pre-publication technology policy documents from the perspective of underrepresented groups. They report on two case studies demonstrating its use:
- Augmented reality whitepaper. Expert panels were held with people with disabilities, people who were formerly or currently incarcerated, and women. Panelists provided feedback on the definition of augmented reality, the potential use of augmented reality in law enforcement, and how augmented reality technology might help the wearer feel more secure.
- Autonomous vehicles strategy document. Expert panels were held with youth, non-car drivers, and extremely low-income people. Panelists provided feedback on the privacy and safety implications of autonomous vehicles, and how the recommendations put forward in the document might have a disparate impact on low-income communities.
In both case studies, panels identified significant shortcomings in the pre-publication documents which, if addressed, would mitigate some of the disparate impact of the proposed policy recommendations on these particular stakeholder groups.
The authors close with a reflection on the method, evidence for its success, its limitations, and future directions.
Learn more about the Diverse Voices method at techpolicylab.uw.edu/project/diverse-voices and through our detailed How-To Guide. If you’re interested in staying in touch with the Diverse Voices team and receiving information on additional resources, join our mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org.
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