“It’s Like the Value System in the Loop”: Domain Experts’ Values Expectations for NLP Automation

Dilruba Showkat and Eric P. S. Baumer. 2022. “It’s Like the Value System in the Loop”: Domain Experts’ Values Expectations for NLP Automation. In Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS), 100–122.


The rise of automated text processing systems has led to the development of tools designed for a wide variety of application domains. These technologies are often developed to support non-technical users such as domain experts and are often developed in isolation of the tools primary user. While such developments are exciting, less attention has been paid to domain experts’ expectations about the values embedded in these automated systems. As a step toward addressing that gap, we examined values expectations of journalists and legal experts. Both these domains involve extensive text processing and place high importance on values in professional practice. We engaged participants from two non-profit organizations in two separate co-speculation design workshops centered around several speculative automated text processing systems. This study makes three interrelated contributions. First, we provide a detailed investigation of domain experts’ values expectations around future NLP systems. Second, the speculative design fiction concepts, which we specifically crafted for these investigative journalists and legal experts, illuminated a series of tensions around the technical implementation details of automation. Third, our findings highlight the utility of design fiction in eliciting not-to-design implications, not only about automated NLP but also about technology more broadly. Overall, our study findings provide groundwork for the inclusion of domain experts values whose expertise lies outside of the field of computing into the design of automated NLP systems.


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