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Responsibility for microharm

Risk assess for the small stuff
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Most national legal systems place safety responsibility on the developer/provider of a new product or service. For technical systems, Engineering Safety Management (ESM) is the activity of assessing any risk of harm associated with a system, to ensure that it is acceptable.

Quantitative risk assessments total up the risk of harm by combining severity and probability: that is, if you have a potential event that causes (say) multiple fatalities, it can only be acceptable if it is shown to be very low probability; conversely, an event that causes only minor injuries might be acceptable at a higher probability.

That gives rise to a conceptual "tariff" table, where say 1 fatality is equivalent to 10 serious injuries is equivalent to 100 minor injuries and so on, but the lowest level of harm is usually taken as a minor injury.

I'm suggesting an extension of this downward to include "microharms" - the annoyance and irritation suffered by users of a poorly designed system/product - as a quantifiable measure of harm.

Suppose 1 microharm = 1/1000 of a fatality...

Take for instance, the deletion of the headphone jack on later iPhone models: it causes minor irritation to perhaps millions of users. It may only be 0.01 microharm, but affects very many people negatively.

I'm suggesting that apparently trivial harm affecting very large numbers of users has an overall net impact on mental health and wellbeing, and should be considered in a similar way (or in an extended framework) to system/product safety assessment of more harmful risk.

Frankx, Jul 16 2021

Assessment of functional safety https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEC_61508
IEC 61508 - see Hazard and Risk Analysis for example [Frankx, Jul 16 2021]

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       It's impossible to perform this function better than the market already does. Those who purchased said devices reluctantly or not did choose to do so. You can't protect a man from his own idiocy and poor choices, I should know.
Voice, Jul 16 2021

       Voice is spot-on with his comment about markets. At least as far as features you know about and choose. And when it comes to things people might not knowingly choose, after they're discovered class action lawsuits often perform the assessment of microharm.   

       Manufactures colluded on pricing CD-ROM drives and you unwittingly bought one at an inflated price? You might have gotten $10 pay-out some years later... Seems like a microharm (and micropayment) to me.
a1, Jul 16 2021

       Markets also suffer from oligopolies and other catastrophes. Hence the reason we still have Oracle.
RayfordSteele, Jul 18 2021

       Free markets don’t in themselves produce safe products. The incentive to maximise profit means producers will minimise expenditure on safety, maintainability and useability unless regulated.   

       I could start a list of examples…
Frankx, Jul 18 2021

       Pakaging is going to take a hit.   

       But only 5% of the people mentally harmed need the payment to stop the nervous breakdown. The harm varies across the normal distribution.   

       Nature and our designed enviroments are full of harms. It is life to navigate them in ones' own particular way. Experiences, personal fabric on the traverse to death.
wjt, Jul 30 2021


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