Saturday, December 4, 2004

Computer Ethics

Now that we are at the conclusion of my Computer Ethics class I was thinking about what some of the non CSC major got out of the class. What does a non computer geek think of the computer world. Some people in the class thought hardware was less reliable these days. With examples of hard drives and video cards dying being the most dominate. Though I'd agree with them on this I don't agree with their follow-up point being that software is now more reliable. Absolutely NOT!. How can a piece of software that used to run on a non multi-tasking OS be more reliable? It used to be the case that your word processor would run and nothing else. It was great. No interupts no pops nothing just productivity. Now look at what's happening, a machine fighting for resources, with an ever present chance of crashing. But I don't just have a problem with software after installing it, the problems start before you even open the 'box'. Have you ever read the EULA (End User License Agreement) it's all the 'legal' stuff you agree to before installing the software. Basically it says we take no responsibility for your machine and we do not guarantee our software will do anything we told you it would do. My God! Imagine if other industries took this view. "We stand behind nothing" - they would say. Are you likely to buy? Do we as customers not look for a warranty when we buy any major product? How can the 'tech' industry continue this policy? And with the lack of certification of the Computer Science field it's no wonder software is so poorly written these days. So what's the solution. First let's go about creating a set of ethics that all programmers will be taught as part of a formal education. No not the ACM code of ethics something that truly represents what is good for the customer. Secondly certification. Not Windows certification but certification in the same sense as Engineers do. Where once certified there's a certain expectation of professionalism knowing that the work you do can cost people's lives if not done properly.

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