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.
Ethics in software development
“We’re making the world a better place...”
“We’re making the world a better place...
data models to
A code of ethics
“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.”
Engineers: people who “hold
paramount the safety, health and
welfare of the public”
A code of ethics
for software engineers!
“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
“3.15. Treat all forms of software maintenance with the same
professionalism as new development.”
“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.”
According to dictionary.com:
“in accordance with the rules or
standards for right conduct or
practice, especially the standards of a
English Literature dropout
Likes weird stuff
DevOps Heroine @ Acrolinx GmbH
Senior Twitter ranter (@a_meba)
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
What we build
Girls Around Me
Using the Foursquare API to stalk people
“A violation of our API policy”
Is dating supposed to be risky?
“Users will always do things
with technology that we didn’t
Shannon Vallor, associate professor of philosophy at Santa Clara,
Technology moves fast, but not all
of this movement is for the better.
How we build
We work in different settings.
Our teams will differ.
Sometimes our software provides
work for others.
We’re quite privileged
Think about your company
What would you like to change?
The sharing economy
Freelancers or employees?
The people who pay for the
cheap price are the people who
provide the services.
Homejoy advertised itself as “a movement
to make cleaning services available to a
broad audience, rather than a luxury for the
The safety and well-being of our end users
"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,
“3.12. Work to develop software and related documents that
respect the privacy of those who will be affected by that
You don’t have to agree with me!
Technology doesn’t exist in a
Please, ask questions.
https://thatmarta.wordpress.com | @a_meba