Ethics in Computer Programming

Ethics in Computer Programming

Computer Software is Everywhere

Ethics in computer programming is as important as ever with modern society becoming digitalized with software as its new foundation. Nowadays, there isn’t a business or even a department within our municipal and federal government that isn’t harnessing the efficiency of computer programs. Sales, operation, accounting and marketing are all handled digitally on a computer or on the cloud, saving costs on labour and time. In school, teachers and students alike acquire information and produce work using applications on their computers or tablets. Family and friends connect and communicate with each other using smart phones. Even our city infrastructure is optimized and controlled by computer programs! This makes the impact of every daily decision a computer programmer faces critical, and they must understand that even the smallest change in code may create a string of consequences to the people around them.

How can it be moderated?

Ethical standards are a serious issue in computer science, and it is important that moral values are placed within all action individuals or companies take. Irresponsible use of computer technology such as hacking, viruses, or malicious programming can cause serious harm to people’s privacy and livelihood. To combat these issues, code of ethics have been formed by computer science organizations and companies, and many of their initiatives have influenced the bills and laws created to protect us against computer crimes. These rules and standards also play a vital role in guiding programmers and users on how to interact and use computers and software so it’s safe for everyone.

Shaping what is right and what is wrong

However, not everything is ethically binary. Personal data is a controversial issue in user privacy as businesses profit greatly by collecting and selling them, but it is also an integral aspect of optimizing processes. A simple program may also be victim to programming negligence if the developer did not take the necessary precautions filtering bias data. Companies and universities sometimes reward programmers that are able to create harmful software or hack into their security systems as a way to prove their understanding and proficiency. Certain companies or entities such as governments can have complete control over censorship using computer technology. How about creating an intellectual property over an algorithm that might greatly benefit societal welfare? While certain laws are instilled to protect and shape favourable coding practices, there are still many grey areas in ethical standards when evaluating conduct.

How can we determine what is ethical behaviour that is intrinsically the right thing to do? Programmers must be able to provide rationale of moral arguments, be able to classify and understand various stand points, and finally be able to come to a decision on why it is right or wrong.

Rules of society can be applied to ethics in computer programming. What is an individual’s right to behave a certain way and what is not an acceptable way to behave? A common way to figure this out is to determine if the action causes benefit or harm to a person, a group, or an entity. What would happen if everyone started to acted the same way?

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