Blog of Sara Jakša

Disturbing Technology Design

Here I just wanted to share an article with you all. The article Motivating Learners by Nurturing Animal Companions: My-Pet and Our-Pet (actually a scientific conference presentation, but who cares) talks about, how the Tamagochi-es were used to make students more motivated for learning.

I mean, there are ethical problems already - the first of all the assumption that more studying (and cooperation) is good, which my itself is moral evaluation to the people having a worse emotional landscape because if it. Yes, I am sure of this, since they included the quote in the article, which was something like "Id the pet is sad, then so am I". Don't forget, these are children in school, not adults.

People anthropomorphise machine (just check, what happened to people talking to ELIZA), but we generally don't make people worse off, because somebody else did not do something. Except in action movies, where this is done by the bad guys. But for the people with very strong anthropomorphising, I don't think there is much of a difference. So I am left wondering, did nobody find this manipulative?

(Well, except my professor from Vienna, who mentioned this as a lack of ethical standard in human-computer interaction research until recently)