Saturday, June 27, 2015

This Week in EID - Episode 60

We started off the week with an article on food nutrition labels – which is coincidentally one of the first projects I ever worked on as a professional HF designer.  But the FDA didn’t implement my recommendations so we are still stuck with some very ineffective persuasive design.  Perhaps the app-based system I shared on Monday will be an improvement.  The jury is still out.

Then on Tuesday we went back to the Supreme Court – which is a surprisingly good source of human factors cases.  In the two cases I discuss, the main legal issue is whether a particular medium of speech is “government” speech or “individual” speech.  Obviously, these two are governed very differently in terms of First Amendment issues.  The human factors dimension is whether a typical observer will think the speech is government supported or not.  It is part of our constitution that people in positions of low power don’t get the impression that the government is against them.  This is the basis (or at least one of them) for separation of church and state. It is also the reason that many government facilities in the South are taking down their Confederate Flags at the moment.

The Wednesday article on group identity is a good piece of psychology wisdom.  What are you saying with the logos you wear?  It is something to consider next time you leave the house.

Finally, we tried to evoke some deeper thinking for the weekend in our article on Robot Ethics.  As we advance the sciences of AI and perception, robots will soon be able to feel physical pain and emotional pain. Is it OK to inflict this pain on a robot for no particular reason?  We can do it with our toasters.  We can do it with stuffed animals, even the animated ones that seem pretty real.  But they don’t feel. 

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on these.