iSchool's Friedman, Hendry co-author 'Value Sensitive Design'

Value Sensitive Design book coverBatya Friedman and David Hendry, faculty members in the UW Information School, have co-authored the new book “Value Sensitive Design: Shaping Technology with Moral Imagination.”

With technology affecting all aspects of life and the growing concerns over privacy, security and inclusion, the authors ask: “How should designers, engineers, architects, policymakers, and others design such technology? Who should be involved and what values are implicated?”

Value Sensitive design “brings together theory, methods and applications for a design process that engages human values at every stage.” And its methods, they write, “in short, catalyze moral and technical imaginations for design and engineering.”

With heightened awareness of bias in artificial intelligence systems and its negative social and economic impacts, the authors add: “Value sensitive design stands out as an approach that helps position engineers and technologists to get on the front end of these problems before systems are developed and deployed.”

The book offers 17 concrete methods for value sensitive design, they write, and demonstrates the effectiveness of the approach “through case studies from large-scale public transportation to security for implantable medical devices.

Friedman and Hendry cite social media and artificial intelligence as examples of technologies that would benefit from value sensitive design. Social media companies, in favoring young adult users, “tend not to consider other key stakeholders such as children and the elderly,” and AI systems are often inscrutable “black boxes” of automatic decision making.

“Value sensitive design offers concrete approaches and methods for broadening the focus of AI systems, away from a singular focus on efficiency to responsible innovation and such values as fairness and lack of bias, diverse stakeholder inclusion, and most broadly social justice.”

“Value Sensitive Design: Shaping Technology with Moral Imagination” was published in May by MIT Press.

For more information, contact Friedman at or Hendry at