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Concept of the Human

In Informatics research and technology development, various roles are assigned to humans: In the field of IT-Security, humans are seen as needing protection, but also as potential threats. In Artificial Intelligence, the human serves as a reference model. For Human Computer Interaction (HCI) design, human activity in the world and its support by digital media is the focus. This assignment of roles must be consciously reflected. What attributions come with them and what humans do researchers have in mind? The concept of “the human” has close relations to gender. An idea of (hu)man always entails gender concepts including social categories like physical and mental abilities and leaves its marks in research and development.

Reflection questions

  • Who will definitely not benefit from our research and why?
  • What (and whose) life domains and what everyday contexts seem interesting for our research?
  • What kinds of people do we have in mind when formulating our project goal? Are they mainly like us or do we also imagine completely different population groups?
  • Does our project deal with a rich and diverse social world?
  • What roles do we assign to them? Are these roles gendered?
  • Will we include “ people with disabilities”in our concepts?
  • How can we avoid generalizing situations or stereotyping? For example, diversity aspects such as gender intersects with variables like educational background, socioeconomic status, age, or ethnicity. The experiences of Black migrant girls in Germany will differ from those of Black girls with migrant history in Germany.
  • What cultural, social, or political contexts should we study? Are there life domains and everyday contexts that might be particularly productive to inform our scenarios and use cases?
  • Participatory design, inclusive design, value-based design, or reflective design are approaches that include user participation and help to integrate gender/diversity-aspects. What if we used these approaches?
  • What might help us to get a more diverse and varied image of potential users?
  • What are the reasons for involving various groups to different degrees (or not at all) in our research and development process?
  • What reference models do we use in order to study and model human behaviour or abilities?
  • To what extent can social diversity be integrated in our concept development? Does it open up new perspectives? What aspects do we leave out?
  • Whom do we consider appropriate as a tester/evaluator of our draft or prototype?
  • Let us try to evaluate our system under other conditions (e.g., diverse users not from the primary target group)
  • Situations and places feel different for different persons. How do we take that into account in our evaluation procedure?
  • How do we make project results accessible?
  • What persons or groups might be potential emissaries for our research results?