The case studies refer to technical terms from law, policy, and design, especially value sensitive design (Friedman & Hendry, 2019; Friedman, Hendry, & Borning, 2017).

The acronym VSD refers to “value sensitive design.”

Direct and indirect stakeholder analysis (VSD method). Identification of individuals, groups, organizations, institutions, and societies that might reasonably be affected by the technology under investigation and in what ways. Two overarching stakeholder categories: (1) those who interact directly with the technology, direct stakeholders; and (2) those indirectly affected by the technology, indirect stakeholders.

Human dignity (human value). A foundational value where people are inherently respected and valued and able to live a full life. The human capabilities approach offers a conceptual framework for investigating the elements of human dignity (Nussbaum, 2006).

Machine learning (technical approach). Field of study where computers are programmed to write their own algorithms, often relying on massive data sets (Domingos, 2015).

Predictive analytics (technical approach). Using computational approaches, often machine learning techniques, to predict future events.

Public interest (legal concept). Laws, regulations, and policies that are designed to improve the well-being of people who live in a society.

Stakeholder, direct (VSD theoretical construct). An individual or group who interacts directly with a technology. For example, a system of electronic medical records might be designed for doctors and insurance companies. See stakeholder, indirect.

Stakeholder, indirect (VSD theoretical construct). An individual or group who is impacted by a technology but does not directly interact with it.  For example, some systems of electronic medical records are not intended to be used by patients but, quite obviously, the use of an electronic medical record by doctors, insurance agencies will impact patients. When a small drone flies over a bystander, she may be bother by its sound and presence and her privacy might be violated. The bystander would be an indirect stakeholder. In contrast, the operator of the drone would be a direct stakeholder.

Value (VSD theoretical construct). What is important to people in their lives, with a focus on ethics and morality.

Value Scenario (VSD method). A written narrative, or story, that concretely describes a situation involving human values and technology. Value scenarios focus on the human-technology relationship, typically through these elements: stakeholders, values, time, and pervasiveness. Values scenarios can be short and quite focused (around 50 words) or longer and more expansive (more than 600 words).

Value tension (VSD theoretical construct). When one or more values come to be compared, sometimes the comparison leads to a value tension. For example, an adolescent might seek fun experiences that are safe; here, the values of fun and safety might be in tension. This tension may arise between stakeholders (the adolescent and the parents) or within an individual (the adolescent with herself). In information systems, a classic value tension is between access and security. To keep information secure, one can reduce access. Value tensions can be addressed in a variety of ways, for example, by some kind of cost-benefit analysis, by the value dams and flows VSD method, by designing solutions that somehow resolve the tension, or even through dialog and social agreements, where the value tension is accepted as being unresolved.


Domingos, P. (2015). The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our Work. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Friedman, B., Hendry, D. G., & Borning, A. (2017). A survey of value sensitive design methods. Foundations and Trends in Human-Computer Interaction, 11 (23), 63–125.

Friedman, B., & Hendry, D. G. (2019). Value Sensitive Design: Shaping Technology with Moral Imagination. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Nussbaum, M. (2006). Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, and Species Membership. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.


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