What’s the Worst That Could Happen? By Roisi Proven "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs October 10 2020 True Building Products, Product Development, ProductTank, ProductTank London, Responsibility, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 363 Roisi Proven speaks at product tank London Product Management 1.452

What’s the Worst That Could Happen? By Roisi Proven


In this ProductTank London talk, Roisi Proven, Product Manager at Gower Street Analytics, considers the worst that could happen to digital products if we only ever think about the good and never the bad.

She answers the question: ‘What’s the worst that could happen to digital products today?’ by suggesting:

  • Imagine the worst
  • Running a Black Mirror test on a product

Watch the video to see Roisi’s talk in full. Or read on for an overview of her key points.

Imagine the worst

As product people, we always think that we are making the world a better place by creating products. However, it seems that in some cases we only seem to make things worse. When designing a product, we need to think about all the bad things that could happen if this product was used for the wrong purposes.

Running a Black Mirror test

Roisi comes up with the idea of taking your digital product and writing a potential Black Mirror episode using it. Black Mirror acts as a twilight zone of sorts that explores the potential pitfalls which await various technological advancements. By creatively imagining what could wrong with a digital product, we as product people can implement steps to prevent things from going awry. Roisi draws on the examples of how the founders of Facebook, Amazon and Andreessen Horowitz never intended for their products to be used for bad, but unfortunately, bad things did happen at some point in time.

How things could go wrong

She goes on to focus on three newer stage apps and digital products and how things could go wrong. A roommate finding service that becomes discriminatory as a result of biased artificial intelligence, a wearable glasses product which causes a blind man to starve to death, and a social media app that gives rise to a viral pyramid scheme. These are just some of the horrible scenarios which could occur when things go wrong.

The key takeaways from Roisi’s talk are that as product people it is our responsibility to imagine all the ways in which our products can be used for nefarious purposes, so as to prevent it from happening.