At least until such time as the singularity is upon us, the point of machines is to serve humans but until now, we have been enduring an early developmental stage in data processing technology – a time when our data processing tools are so primitive that they are like human babies, ruling our behaviour with their need for constant care and attention. We have had to accommodate the needs of our machines but in the future, our technology will be an understanding and supportive partner in our lives rather than an infantile tyrant.
The singularity may still be some considerable time away – but as the Tech Crunch article says, we are already in the era when technology can serve us with a much higher level of understanding of the things that make us human. We just have to design it that way. And we already know a lot about how to do that.
It is just a matter of time before consumer expectations force the investment of capital in humanistic design priorities.
There is a big scam in technology that is almost universally played by platform providers of all kinds – and we pretty much always just go along with it, undervaluing ourselves and making them richer at our personal expense.
It happened to me, just today when my mobile service provider sent me this SMS:
Based on yr last call to us, how likely r u to recommend [us] to a friend/colleague?
Why do they expect me to provide them with this information? Because I probably will. Because most people do (or enough do, to make the results statistically meaningful).
But why would I do that? What’s in it for me?
Well, there are some intrinsic motivations that could drive my response:
Great. Satisfaction of these intrinsic motives does sustain behaviour. The persistence of platform providers in trading on these motives is evidence of that fact. +play does the same thing in its gamification designs, hitching a ride on things that players are already primed to do by their intrinsic motivations.
Presumably, my response is of value to the provider. I doubt that they would go to the expense of asking for it, collecting the response, compiling it, interpreting it, etc., if it was worth nothing to them. And being a business, that boils down to it being worth money to them. So, what is my cut?
My mobile service provider is neither my friend, my family member nor a charity that I support. It does not fall into any category in my life to which I gladly donate my personal property. It is immeasurably financially richer than I am now or will ever be but by asking me help them improve their service, they are expecting me to make a donation to them! They pay their employees to make guesses as to what kind of service I want but they won’t give me any form of extrinsic value for giving them actual facts about it?
I think that is fundamentally disrespectful to me as a ‘valued customer’ and suggests that their view of me is actually just, ‘an asset to be exploited’. I know a mobile service provider is not an app but it reflects a highly prevalent attitude I see in technology providers of all types.
Listen guys, without me (and all your other customers), you wouldn’t exist. If our information and opinions are important to the sustainability of your business, acknowledge that in some meaningful way. We deserve better.
Unfairness has been described as “relationship poison” in a study of customer relationships, aggravating conflict, opportunism and undermining the relationship management benefits of contracts.
People’s sense of fairness is innate and has been demonstrated in a wide range of sciences from genetics to primate behaviour. The feeling of being treated unfairly is instinctive and powerful and can lead to extreme results  (although different people react differently to unfairness).
So, do you treat your end-users fairly?
More importantly, do your end-users perceive that you treat them fairly?
Here are ten reasons why you should and how you can show respect for your users that will pay off in the long run.
 ^ Tripp, T.M. & Bies, R.J. (in press). “Doing justice”: The role of motives for revenge in the workplace. In M. Ambrose & R. Cropanzano (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Justice in Work Organizations. Oxford University Press.
 ^ Using the OECD scale of 5 proficiency levels; http://www.oecd.org/site/piaac/Skills%20volume%201%20(eng)–full%20v12–eBook%20(04%2011%202013).pdf