The Ethics of Software - some practical considerations

By Burkhard Kloss

As Uncle Bob pointed out, software is everywhere, and without software, nothing works.

That gives us great power, and – as we all know – with great power comes great responsibility.

We have to make choices every day that affect others, sometimes in subtle and non-intuitive ways. To mention just a few:

  • What logs should we capture? How does that change if we have to hand them over to the government?

  • Are our hiring practices fair? Are we sure about that?

  • Is there bias in our algorithms that unfairly disadvantages some groups of people?

  • Is the core function of our software ethical? How about if it’s deliberately misused?

I hope to raise a few of these questions, not to provide answers – I don’t have any – but to stimulate debate.