How do designers and developers ensure that modern technology is designed to protect its users? That question was central to the Digital Design Ethics Conference, organized on November 26, 2018 by the Communication and Multimedia Design (CMD) course at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

A striking angle for a conference because although this year is in the news due to the 'deadline' of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), privacy is not exactly the sexiest topic. Especially if you are following a course that usually deals with UX and virtual reality, apps too, to reach the masses! At the same time, there is no better time. Everyone is doing something with the new legislation and this conference was a platform for students and other attendees to think about the implications of the work to be created.

And it's not just about privacy, by the way. Amber Case talked about 'calm technology' in her talk, where you think about the effect of push notifications and audio feedback in technology. And that all technology that does not take place on a screen must be tested additionally in situations where the conditions are not 100% ideal. To illustrate: 'smart' food bowls for dogs and cats that stopped working when a server crashed, resulting in the death of several pets. The 'offline mode' would be added later via an update, but shouldn't this have been the case earlier?

Mike Monteiro (Mule Design) was invited to remind attendees of their responsibility as designers in a highly politically charged talk. 'How to Build an Atomic Bomb' was about the wall that Trump wants to build on the Mexican border, with a quote based on a wall made of sustainable shipping containers, complete with cozy shops. And about Twitter not banning Trump when he threatened war with North Korea. Errand? Take your responsibility. If you are involved in the creation of something, ask difficult questions, ensure a mixed team and thus prevent the building of an 'atomic bomb' as Monteiro calls Facebook, Uber and Twitter.

After the keynotes, attendees could attend various workshops to analyze and discuss specific problems and choices in design processes.

A lingering question is how you, as a young person, face your own ethical choices, if you are employed by a large corporate, or are trying to score that coveted job there. The answer was not forthcoming.