#linux #foss #opensource

"I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that": Ethics in Software Development





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Published on Jan 24, 2019

Dr. Morgan Leigh


⚠️ Content warning: This talk contains an image of dead animals

We all know how bad things went when the HAL 9000 computer was asked to lie in the film 2001: A space odyssey. As we enter into an era where all kinds of things have programming we need to establish a firm ethical foundation to avoid such disasters.

As an artifact of late stage capitalism, software development has at its core the precept that if it makes money it's good. Developers have from the very first been tantalized with the prospect of riches, the core ethos of startup culture. This pursuit of riches above all compromises ethical development.

Today with the vast expansion in the number of developers, most developers today are just working to pay the bills. When one depends on one's job to pay the bills one is likewise compromised when it comes to ethical boundaries.

Are you really going to risk your options or quit your job just because they want you to cut a few corners or compromise users a tiny bit? It's only a wee bit. Honest. No one will know. We'll put it in a binary blob...

Do developers need an ethical conscience, or are we just following orders? How do we decide where the line is that we can't cross? When do we have to start saying, "No, I won't do that thing". If Cambridge Analytica has taught us anything it's that there is a line we shouldn't cross. There are some things more important than money. It's time to work out what they are.

In this talk I will help you to work out where your own ethical line is and show you the consequences of crossing it.

linux.conf.au is a conference about the Linux operating system, and all aspects of the thriving ecosystem of Free and Open Source Software that has grown up around it. Run since 1999, in a different Australian or New Zealand city each year, by a team of local volunteers, LCA invites more than 500 people to learn from the people who shape the future of Open Source. For more information on the conference see https://linux.conf.au/

#linux.conf.au #linux #foss #opensource


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