Session type:

Session duration:
60 minutes

Presented by:

Sara Wachter-Boettcher

Principal, Rare Union and Author, Technically Wrong

About this Keynote

Most of us start projects with good intentions - we want to make things welcoming, seamless, and maybe even fun to use. But too often, toxic cultures within tech result in products that have all sorts of biases embedded in them: “smart scales” that assume everyone wants to lose weight, form fields that fail for queer people, résumé-reading algorithms that are biased against women, image-recognition software that doesn’t work for people of colour.

As tech becomes increasingly central to our users' days - and intertwined with their most intimate lives - we have more responsibility than ever to consider who could be harmed or left out by our decisions.

In this keynote, we’ll take a hard look at how the tech industry’s culture - its lack of diversity, its “fail fast” ethos, its obsession with engagement and its chronic underinvestment in understanding the humans it’s designing for - creates products that perpetuate bias, manipulate and harm users, undermine democracy and ultimately wreak havoc.

Then, we’ll talk about what we can do about it: how we can uncover assumptions in our work, vet product decisions against a broader range of people and situations, have difficult conversations with our teams and companies - and pursue a more ethical and inclusive way forward for our industry.

About the Speaker

Sara is the principal of Rare Union, a product and content strategy consultancy based in Philadelphia, and the author of Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech.

Her other books include Design for Real Life, co-authored with Eric Meyer, and Content Everywhere. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, Slate, Quartz, and Wired, and she’s given talks at events in a dozen countries (and counting).

Her friends seem to think she’s super productive, but she really spends most days wearing gym clothes and slippers.


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