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1 Polite Computing Software that respects the user Brian Whitworth © 2002, Presented at “Etiquette for Human-Computer Work”, AAAI Fall.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Polite Computing Software that respects the user Brian Whitworth © 2002, Presented at “Etiquette for Human-Computer Work”, AAAI Fall."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Polite Computing Software that respects the user Brian Whitworth © 2002, Presented at “Etiquette for Human-Computer Work”, AAAI Fall Symposium, November 15-17, 2002, North Falmouth, Ma.

2 © Brian Whitworth Socio-Technical Systems  Socio-Technical Systems (STS) are social systems built on software systems built on hardware systems Hardware System Software System Social System  Support  Support Social- Technical Gap Higher system (social) adds to the lower system (technical) if its needs are met

3 © Brian Whitworth Social Value  Social systems must: –Increase benefits, and –Reduce costs (of social interaction) to survive (as social systems)  They create social value: –Information exchange –Interpersonal friendships –Collective action (belonging)  And reduce risk (increase trust)  If a society creates social value and trust, which creates economic value, it is adaptive

4 © Brian Whitworth Social Risk  Two people, seeking incompatible actions in a common environment may conflict  E.g. two cars at an intersection –Both proceed, crash (both lose) –One waits - one wins, one loses –Classic prisoner’s dilemma  For social groups internal conflict is always a loss –A group divided cannot stand

5 © Brian Whitworth Social Value  Research teams share their findings  Friends help each other when one is sick or needy  Groups can undertake tasks beyond individuals  Social cooperation leads from hunter-gatherers to modern society  Are we just hunter-gatherer’s in an information age? (Meyrowitz)

6 © Brian Whitworth Prisoners Dilemma CooperateDefect Cooperate Win/Win 5/5 Win/Lose 0/7 Defect Lose/Win 0/7 Lose/Lose 1/1 It always pays to defect. Self-interest  Social Interest A common social situation

7 © Brian Whitworth Legitimacy  Defection is unstable - leads to lose-lose situations  A social perception of what actions are “right” or “fair” social interaction –privacy, copyright, censorship, trespass, intellectual property, etc  Illegitimate acts benefit one at other’s expense e.g. stealing (defection)  Legitimate acts benefit equally

8 © Brian Whitworth Social Progress CooperateDefect Cooperate Legitimate Win-Win 5/5 Not Legitimate 0/7 Defect Not Legitimate 0/7 Legitimate Lose-Lose 1/1 If a society can implement legitimacy, by laws, police, sanctions or any means, self interest and social interests are aligned

9 © Brian Whitworth Example  Legitimacy concept: The natural right to the fruits of one’s labor (Locke) –Gardeners grow flowers –Others pick them –Gardeners don’t grow flowers (or conflict with Pickers) –Entire group loses - no flowers (for Gardeners or Pickers), or, there is conflict  Societies that implement legitimacy become trusted, & productivity increases

10 © Brian Whitworth Legitimacy  Law  Laws formally state legitimacy concepts –Law derives from legitimacy –Legitimacy allows precedent decisions (interpret the law) –Legality  Legitimacy (a bad law) –ILLegitimacy  ILLegality (e.g. virtual rape)  Implement legitimacy by sanctions, police, judiciary, education, norms, ethics etc  Laws without legitimacy inspire revolutions (social system fails)

11 © Brian Whitworth Politeness  Voluntary acts that support social cooperation in inter- personal situations beyond legitimacy requirements –Voluntary –Generate social value –Above legitimacy baseline i.e. “more than fair” –Inter-personal  Note: Illegitimate acts are always impolite, or “rude”  Politeness is not just agreed norms

12 © Brian Whitworth Examples  Saying “please” or “thank you” is polite (encourage cooperation)  Donating money to the poor is kind not polite (social value - not personal)  Answering a stranger who asks the way is polite, but answering in court is not (interpersonal but not voluntary)  Hugging a friend, or calling your mother every day, has social value but is not polite (no legitimacy baseline )  Allowing another to go first is polite (if you don’t have to)

13 © Brian Whitworth Polite acts are social acts Polite acts Legitimate acts Criminal acts Social Benefit Individual Benefit Co- operation Defection PD paradox: social benefits give non- zero sum individual benefits

14 © Brian Whitworth Advantages  Politeness is more flexible than formal rules or laws –Apply when rules fail –No need to draft laws  Politeness is “free” –Reduces costs of lawyers, police, jails etc  Politeness increases the benefits of society –Sharing information is the basis of scientific progress

15 © Brian Whitworth Supporting Politeness  Online politeness requires: 1.Legitimacy baseline: What the community requires must be defined (in the program) 2.Interaction: Parties able to interact - be visible (transparent), communicate and negotiate: 3.Action opportunity: Parties can voluntarily act politely - allocation and delegation of “rights” must be allowed

16 © Brian Whitworth Physical Example  Visiting another person –Legitimacy baseline: House owner control entry right (trespass) –Interaction:  Visibility - can see other person arrive (or hear the door bell)  Communication: “Please can I come in?”  Negotiation: “Give me five minutes” –Action opportunity: Can open door to allow entry  To simply walk into another’s house is impolite  To call before coming is polite

17 © Brian Whitworth Online Example 1  Using another’s online work –Legitimacy baseline: Creator ownership (copyright) - supported by law but not by software (no public/private data field) –Interaction:  Visibility - Don’t know others want it ( who?)  Communication: No easy way to request use (cf a data form)  Negotiation: “You can use it if I know who you are” –Action opportunity: No electronic way to give rights to use  Web does not support polite sharing of information

18 © Brian Whitworth Online Example 2  Spam: Undesired communication –Legitimacy baseline: Spam benefits individuals but costs the community - reduces value of online society –Interaction:  Visibility - The spammer is invisible  Communication: Cannot reply to them  Negotiation: “You can use my details but not forward them to others” - N/A –Action opportunity: No easy way to be removed from electronic lists  Web does support impolite communication  Polite marketing would be much more profitable - spam reduces value for the entire market

19 © Brian Whitworth Polite computing  Gives legitimate control to the user voluntarily  Software should ask not take (support user’s rights, not apply electronic might)  E.g.Paper clip takes control of the cursor, screen and CPU away from the user - like a “friendly” person who keeps interrupting  While “infant” users may not mind, experienced users do

20 © Brian Whitworth Conclusions  Supporting polite interaction and polite computing would increase the value online communities generate  Business should support politeness - “defecting” gives lose-lose social interaction  Impolite acts reduce online society’s value - people avoid it  Without trust profits decline  Politeness supports the social system that generates value


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