Reading Assignment – Week 5 Day 1:


Reading Assignment – Week 5 Day 1: Harnessing the Power of Feedback Loops

While I could agree, or at least do not have evidence to refute the technical results implied in this article I do not agree with some of the psychological implications that are not addressed as thoughtfully in this article.

The first example given of the Speed Sign Speed Loop which is widely employed within the United States right now, the Author breaks down the four steps of the Feedback Loop and how it affects the driver. These steps are broken down from a design to technical specification of the device and the methodology behind it. In short, I think that this is a critical error. The main area that I have a grievance with is the Third part of the loop in this example (though it is somewhat redundantly implied in the second step of the equation we will focus on the third), the implied consequence or relevance to the user. In this example specifically the author makes comments about the users implied implications from seeing this device as: I could possibly be in an accident, or I can be stopped by an officer for speeding. I feel like this is a slight miscalculation (at least in today’s age of technology)

Many  of these signs can be found within Virginia (where I have been living  in the DC – Maryland – Virginia area for the last 10 years) and on occasion I have driven by them and greater occasion to have been a passenger when they are faced, I agree that the result is that the driver slows down, however, the reason behind this is wrong. The response and reason I have always heard is that there is possibly an automated ticket function connected to traffic cameras around these sign traps (if this is true or not is circumstantial). I believe that the function of these signs has become a connected with that and an implied social/civil anti-trust of automated crime deterrence and surveillance. This anti-trust, or anti-privacy invasion as some probably would call it I believe is the beginning stage of a political backlash against such devices. As pointed out later on in the article in reference to Patel’s utility monitoring feedback loops, there is a fear that these loops will be mismanaged by either corporations or the government to the disadvantage of the citizen. While this in theory may not be the case because if monitored both privately and publicly it could lead to a more exact and even process where people pay what they owe, it still undermines a certain idea of community where one makes allowances for circumstance, and social issues.

I think it is just as important to pay attention to the psychology and social ramifications of these devices both technically and in design theory. There are many unintended consequences that could come out of this. In a greater long-term sense does this create a false dependency on such stimulus? Does the driver become a speed-demon in areas where he does not receive this constant return of information at different intervals? What happens when these psychological cues become so ingrained that a paramedic slows down by force of habit when driving a wounded person to the hospital?  

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