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Ethics in software development

Ethics in software development

Presented @ TIAD.io

In Silicon Valley (and increasingly outside of it), there's a sort of mantra virtually every CEO will tell you: "We're making the world a better place". It's an easy thing to say and to believe in. It's tempting, because it sounds so simple, yet so beautiful; endearing, but vague enough to hold no meaning. As coworkers and managers, we should ask ourselves: are we treating our team members well? When in leadership positions, are we paying a fair wage? As software creators: are we honest towards our users? Can the product/service we develop be used to exploit others, be it intentionally or by accident? If so, what can we do about that, if anything at all? What about copyrights? Privacy? I am hoping that we can explore that together with the audience. Let's think about where our work fits in the (un-)ethical spectrum, and get inspired to introduce changes in what we do.

Marta Paciorkowska

October 04, 2016

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  1. “We’re making the world a better place... ...through Paxos algorithms

    for consensus protocols.” ...through canonical data models to communicate between endpoints.”
  2. “Engineering is an important and learned profession. As members of

    this profession, engineers are expected to exhibit the highest standards of honesty and integrity. Engineering has a direct and vital impact on the quality of life for all people. Accordingly, the services provided by engineers require honesty, impartiality, fairness, and equity, and must be dedicated to the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare. Engineers must perform under a standard of professional behavior that requires adherence to the highest principles of ethical conduct.” https://www.nspe.org/resources/ethics/code-ethics/history-code-ethics-engineers
  3. Engineers: people who “hold paramount the safety, health and welfare

    of the public” https://www.nspe.org/resources/ethics/code-ethics/history-code-ethics-engineers
  4. “1.03. Approve software only if they have a well-founded belief

    that it is safe, meets specifications, passes appropriate tests, and does not diminish quality of life, diminish privacy, or harm the environment. The ultimate effect of the work should be to the public good.” https://www.computer.org/cms/Publications/code-of-ethics.pdf
  5. “3.15. Treat all forms of software maintenance with the same

    professionalism as new development.” https://www.computer.org/cms/Publications/code-of-ethics.pdf
  6. Ethical behavior? According to businessdictionary.com: “Acting in ways consistent with

    what society and individuals typically think are good values. Ethical behavior tends to be good for business and involves demonstrating respect for key moral principles that include honesty, fairness, equality, dignity, diversity and individual rights.”
  7. Ethical? According to dictionary.com: “in accordance with the rules or

    standards for right conduct or practice, especially the standards of a profession”
  8. Marta Paciorkowska English Literature dropout Likes weird stuff DevOps Heroine

    @ Acrolinx GmbH Senior Twitter ranter (@a_meba) https://thatmarta.wordpress.com
  9. Ethical issues I will not talk about ❖ Using open-source

    code in their [company] code without properly crediting the source ❖ Using illegal software to perform their [company] tasks ❖ Reverse engineering code to find out how a process works (...) ❖ Taking talent from the competition https://www.scribd.com/doc/10880744/Ethical-Issues-in-Softwar e-Development
  10. Girls Around Me Using the Foursquare API to stalk people

    “A violation of our API policy” Is dating supposed to be risky?
  11. “Users will always do things with technology that we didn’t

    anticipate” Shannon Vallor, associate professor of philosophy at Santa Clara, http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/09/09/software_engineers_need_a_crash_course_in_ethics.html
  12. How we build things ❖ We work in different settings.

    ❖ Our teams will differ. ❖ Sometimes our software provides work for others.
  13. The people who pay for the cheap price are the

    people who provide the services.
  14. Homejoy advertised itself as “a movement to make cleaning services

    available to a broad audience, rather than a luxury for the rich” http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/03/startup-workers-sue-to-be-recognized-as-employees-not-mere-contractors/
  15. "Do you risk if you announce early that you terrify

    people and actually the breach has been minimal, or do you do the forensics first, dig down through the systems, work out what has gone and then announce things once you're more sure?” - Tom Cheesewright, security expert, http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/597188/Carphone-Warehouse-data-breach-customers-fury
  16. “3.12. Work to develop software and related documents that respect

    the privacy of those who will be affected by that software.” https://www.computer.org/cms/Publications/code-of-ethics.pdf
  17. Conclusion ❖ You don’t have to agree with me! ❖

    Technology doesn’t exist in a vacuum. ❖ Please, ask questions. ♥