Ethical Considerations in Computing

By Chris Tideswell

I can't think of a title for this section...

There are all sorts of laws in place for governing computing. However, this isn't always followed by everyone. There are people who will still breach this rules. Sometimes for fun; other times with criminal intent.

Ethics are the acts of kindness which may evolve from examples such as the above. Do you break the rules? How far should you break them before stopping?

Actual Information

There are ethics though which don't involve the law. This could be in the manufacture of computers. Do you use high quality components and make less profit? Or create a brand name and use cheap components, which you are able to sell at a high price and make lots of profit? (I'm looking at you, Apple).

Another sector of ethics is online. This involves trading and other sites which may stream videos or music. The ethics for trading could involve prices on products you sell and tax. The tax issue consists of where a company is based. This would mean that they are able to exploit various loopholes within certain laws. This means that they are able to pay less tax.

Computers or Workers?

An example scenario is in A computerized robot can do the job which an employee could do. However, it can operate 24 hours a day and is cheaper to run than employing someone. In business terms, the new computerized robot is a perfect replacement.

Unfortunately, ethics come into play. What are the consequences of making employees redundant by replacing them with computers? The rights of employment are now protected by certain laws within the government. However, there are problems of companies will still breach these laws in order to save money.

Trying to Enforce These Ethics

The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering have worked together with the Association of Computing Machinery to devise 8 suggestions (or principles) which companies should follow:



PUBLIC: Software engineers shall act consistently with the public interest.

CLIENT
: Software engineers shall act in a manner that is in the best interests of their client and employer, consistent with the public interest.

PRODUCT
: Software engineers shall ensure that their products and related modifications meet the highest professional standards possible.

JUDGEMEN
T: Software engineers shall maintain integrity and independence in their professional judgment.

MANAGEMEN
T: Software engineering managers and leaders shall subscribe to and promote an ethical approach to the management of software development and maintenance.

PROFESSION
: Software engineers shall advance the integrity and reputation of the profession consistent with the public interest.

COLLEAGUES
: Software engineers shall be fair to and supportive of their colleagues.

SELF
: Software engineers shall participate in lifelong learning regarding the practice of their profession and shall promote an ethical approach to the practice of the profession.


The full description of these principles can be found at the Software Engineering Ethics Research Institute.