In the USA, doctors must take the Hippocratic Oath, acknowledging their understanding of their power.
As technically engulfs the world around us and our lives become increasingly dependent on it, we feel that it is important for software engineers to also understand their place in it all.
Developer ethics is an important topic that we need to study more and understand and more universities are introducing it into their curriculum as well.
Self-Driving Car Dilemma
One of the most famous programming ethics examples is the self-driving car dilemma—if a crash is about to happen, do you program the car to save the occupants inside the car? Or hit someone outside of the car who is in the way?
There are less extreme examples, of course, like catching unintentional discrimination or situations where privacy laws are being broken. You can read more about technology ethics in the links at the end of this post.
Mindful Software Engineers
As software engineers, we should be mindful of our knowledge and power and use our skills to promote good. We want your three months at Code Chrysalis to be full of curiosity and action on how you can make the world a better place. This is why we would like you go read the Programmer's Oath and always keep in mind how your work can impact others.
The below is a programmer's oath, taken directly from Nick Johnstone's "Programmer's Oath". (And of course, it's on Github and you can create a pull request if you want to contribute.)
As a programmer, I swear to fulfill these tenets:
- I will only undertake honest and moral work. I will stand firm against any requirement that exploits or harms people.
- I will respect the lessons learned by those who came before me, and will share what I learn with those to come.
- I will remember that programming is art as well as science, and that warmth, empathy and understanding may outweigh a clever algorithm or technical argument.
- I will not be ashamed to say "I don't know", and I will ask for help when I am stuck.
- I will respect the privacy of my users, for their information is not disclosed to me that the world may know.
- I will be humble and recognize that I will make mistakes.
- I will tread most carefully in matters of life or death.
- I will remember that I do not write code for computers, but for people.
- I will consider the possible consequences of my code and actions. I will respect the difficulties of both social and technical problems.
- I will be diligent and take pride in my work.
- I will recognize that I can and will be wrong. I will keep an open mind, and listen to others carefully and with respect.
Interested in developer ethics? Here are some good blog posts:
- Trailblazing initiative marries ethics, tech — Harvard Gazette
- The Code I’m Still Ashamed Of — Free Code Camp
- Programming ethics — Wikipedia
- Developer ethics — Why you should care
- Technology Ethics — Santa Clara University
This is required reading for the Code Chrysalis Immersive Bootcamp’s precourse — a series of assignments, projects, assessments, and work that all students must successfully complete remotely before embarking on our full-stack software engineering course.
Code Chrysalis is a Tokyo-based 🗼 coding school providing a full-time and part-time programming courses in English and Japanese. Join us in-person or take our classes remotely. See why we are an industry leader in technical education in Japan 🗾.
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