“Ethics? Software development? What are you talking about?” These are not rare questions. Yet the misconception is real. Do you think that coding is a technical, straight-forward endeavor that doesn’t need ethics? Are you asking these questions?
If so, we would invite you to look at the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, which breached 87 million Facebook users’ data and allegedly used it to influence an election. Not only has the situation attracted international attention, with a raid on the company’s headquarters in the UK, but it has stirred a necessary discussion. Where is the ethical line when it comes to software development?
The essential question behind “ethical technology”
The problem with fitting ethics into software development is that ethics is very subjective and more of a grey area. Software development, on the other hand, is far more black-and-white. It is built on logical principles. There should be no room for a grey area. Yet, the thing is, there is a lot of grey area in the development world.
Consider for a moment how fast-growing and ever-changing the software development field is. As new capabilities – such as those exploited in the Facebook scandal – create major disruptions, innovation moves into a truly uncharted territory.
Think about the amount of user that’s stored in data banks and used to support end-user application and ad services. What would your company do with such data, should it come into possession of it? So many different people said it, from Voltaire to Spider-Man, but still, it is no less true: With great power comes great responsibility.
Software engineers are coming to realize that they, too, must be aware of the day-to-day development of their solutions. There is now a higher standard of conduct that must be followed. Here is a question: What if you were asked to do something that violated your ethical code, but was still a critical part of your job function?
Those that decide the form and function of the program, must also decide if they are okay with providing the knowledge required to make that form and function work. We live in the age of advanced computing power. Whether we are speaking of closed-circuit camera networks in foreign countries or programs designed to complete some other function we object to, would we do it?
The double-edged technological sword
Technology is both a gift and a curse. We are honest about this because we are thought leaders in our space. These are the tough conversations we need to have. Talking about the intricacies of software development all day is easy, but we seek to find the deeper truth governing what we do.
Those deeper truths lead us to ask the critical questions. Could there be ways in which what we do harms the public good? Furthermore, could the development industry be susceptible to greater federal regulation as a result of the responsibility we bear?
Looking at software development through the lens of diversity
If there is one truth in software development, it is that successful development projects require a measure of diversity. Whether it be addressing the gender pay gap or the woefully low number of minorities working within the software development sector, our industry needs to do some work.
Addressing diversity issues within the tech world is one of the major topics of our day. When we are discussing ethics, it’s not a topic that should be left out.
Fortunately, here at Clever Coding, we are incredibly proud of our track record addressing diversity and creating a fair and inclusive workspace for our employees. Just ask them!
In closing, if you’re looking to work with a software development team that takes their responsibility to their customers and the community as a whole seriously, look no further. Ethics is something that’s on our mind day-in-and-day-out; how can we serve you?