Toward inclusive tech policy design: a method for underrepresented voices to strengthen tech policy documents

Ethics and Information Technology 21 (2):89-103 (2019)
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Abstract

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 this article, drawing on Value Sensitive Design and discount evaluation methods, we introduce a new method—Diverse Voices—for strengthening pre-publication technology policy documents from the perspective of underrepresented groups. Cost effective and high impact, the Diverse Voices method intervenes by soliciting input from “experiential” expert panels. We first describe the method. Then we report on two case studies demonstrating its use: one with a white paper on augmented reality technology with expert panels on people with disabilities, people who were formerly or currently incarcerated, and women; and the other with a strategy document on automated driving vehicle technologies with expert panels on youth, non-car drivers, and extremely low-income people. 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. Our discussion includes reflection on the method, evidence for its success, its limitations, and future directions.

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