It’s part of the greater dream of progress to incrementally unload burdens of our daily lives to more autonomous and smart objects. However the more information we feed them the more complex is to take decisions.

If a “smart” coffee machine knows about its user’s heart problems, should it accept giving him a coffee when he requests one? The system will be designed to take into account certain inputs, to process a ‘certain’ type of information under a ‘certain’ kind of logic. How are these “certainties” defined, and by whom? How are these autonomous systems going to be able to solve problems without objective answers? And, moreover, as the nature of ethics is very subjective, how will machines be able to deal with the variety of profiles, beliefs, and cultures?

The Ethical Things project looks at how a very mundane object like a fan, might face complex dilemmas, and can source answers and determine its behaviour by asking to crowdsourced workers. Rather than focusing on creating complex and possibly erroneous algorithmic smartness, we outsource the choice to people and allow users to set the ethical parameters chosen to find the right remote “Ethical Agent”.

Matthieu Cherubini was born in 1984, Switzerland. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Design Interactions department in Royal College of Art. His research by project examines the implications of artificial moral agents on our domestic and everyday lives, both today and in the near future. He has a background in software engineering and media design from HEAD-Geneva. His work has been exhibited and presented internationally including Biennale Internationale de Design (FR), Resonate (SRB), Lift China (CN), KIBLA Multimedia Center (SL), FACT Gallery (UK) and also has been published in BBC, WeMakeMoneyNotArt, Wired, FastCompany…

Simone Rebaudengo
I’m interaction designer at Frog in Shanghai where I design digital, tangible and behavioral interfaces and torture many objects. I’m fascinated by products and services that change, grow, behave and that are smart enough to take their own decisions and show a point of view, but not more. My actual research is focused in the exploring relationships between networked objects and the consequences that can emerge in the interaction with people. Born in Turin, Italy in 1986, I started as product designer to then realize that I preferred sensors to chairs. I moved to Sweden where I’ve been a researcher at Mobile Life Institute, designing Pervasive Gaming experiences. I then graduated at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, focusing on tangible interfaces, interactive spaces and playing with generative architecture. In 2011 during a collaboration with Usman Haque and Pachube, one of the first Internet of Things platform, I tried to install an “addicted toaster” in the office of the British prime minister. Since then I’ve been talking about it at TEDx, UX London, Dconstruct and SolidCon and I was awarded Best in show and Best in Category Engaging for Speculative design at core77 awards and my work has been featured on FastCompany, Wired and The