Ethical Software

James Prestwich (14.Jul.2017 at 10:30, 50 min)
Talk at OpenWest Conference 2017 (English - US)

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An overview of how to not be evil.

Software is no longer simple. Instead of spreadsheets on a PC we now have social graphs on a massive global network. Software is the foundation or our economy, social structures, and lives. Software creates and defines power relationships between users, corporations, governments, and friends. It determines how you interact with your family, what you learn, what news you read. Software is powerful, and getting more powerful every year. It's time we admitted that, and had a frank conversation about how terrifying it should be.

Fortunately, over the last few hundred years, some very intelligent people have put a significant amount of thought into right and wrong. Somewhere along the way, computer scientists stopped worrying about it. Recently, sites like [neveragain]( have demonstrated how poor our industry is at dealing with the ethical problems we've created.

This talk is an overview of the history of Normative Ethics, the study of moral actions, and a discussion of its application in modern software engineering. It attempts to define a framework for determining whether software is ethical, or unethical. And it encourages engineers to think about whether software is ethically permissible the same way they evaluate whether it's technically possible.

Explains and builds on the following concepts:
[Ethical Software](
[Building Stethoscopes](
[We are the watch-maker gods now]( [163]

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