wrong per se with the 1990s code of software ethics — it just represents a precambrian era of software • Notably, the guiding context surrounding the code of ethics itself remains timeless… • …but the code itself is quaint, and serves primarily to remind how much software has changed in the last two decades • With the rise of ubiquitous internet in the late 1990s came the ﬁrst real foreshocks of the ethical dilemmas to come…
broader domains, the internet-era challenges have multiplied and compounded — and with increasingly serious ramiﬁcations • There have been many clear ethical transgressions, common to any era with a frenzied rush for mammon… • …but much more common are true ethical dilemmas, laden with complexity and ambiguity • These are not entirely unrelated! Those least burdened by ethics seem most likely to ﬁnd themselves on the ethical frontier, facing the greatest dilemmas
a tiny sampling of the ethical dilemmas faced by software in the post-Andreessen age • It is clear that what is right for software is not necessarily right for society: we must address our ethical dilemmas directly! • Software is on the cusp of yet broader societal impact — and at a time when our society is increasingly divided and fractured • We have a greater burden to society than ever before — how can we process these dilemmas?
of 2018, the ACM’s new Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct has arrived at the right time • A radical overhaul of the 1990s-era code of ethics, it is much more principles based, e.g.: • Contribute to society and to human well-being • Avoid harm • Be honest and trustworthy • Entire code is at https://ethics.acm.org
beyond merely providing a Code of Ethics by kicking off its Integrity Project • Includes case studies and an “Ask an Ethicist” feature • The ACM’s efforts show that to face ethical dilemmas, we need to be able to ask tough questions • These will often not have crisp answers — but the resulting discussion is most likely to yield behavior consistent with the code of ethics • Organizations must initiate and support this discussion!
dilemmas will enjoy ethical differentiation • They will attract like-minded individuals who can help perpetuate a culture of consideration of ethical consequences • We must recognize that as software’s footprint continues to grow, out ethical dilemmas will only expand • We must brace ourselves for future dilemmas • Ethical quandary is Andreessen’s corollary — and it is our collective responsibility to address It directly!