A website with questions for ethical software development
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README.md

README.md

developers-oath

This website is a work-in-progress. Here are the notes for how it could turn out.

Goals

This is the source repository for a website with:

  1. Open questions on ethical software development ;
  2. Stories about real-world situations of ethical development choices, and how it turned out ;
  3. A proposition of a developer's oath

Open questions on ethical software development

Some open questions, made more for thinking thing along the lines of:

  • Is it possible for users to always control their data?
  • Who beneficiates of data collection?
  • Are publishing platforms responsible for free speech?
  • Is moderation censorship?
  • Should developers of international software services always comply with local laws?
  • Is it ethical to hack into a system that was left open?
  • Are data-trained algorithms fair?

These questions would be presented as articles, with some discussions and external references. It could feature cross-posted articles from other sources, along with some original content.

Stories about real-world situations of ethical development choices

This section would present a few stories where there was an ethical dilemna in software development.

Some examples (fictional for now):

  • You are asked to develop a facial-recognition software for following the motions of people in a theme park. It could bring all kinds of useful things: crowd management, localizing lost children, indicators of affluence, etc. But you fear it could also be used to track people between stores, or between different visits. What do you do?
  • You are asked to validate the software for a voting machine. You discover that several validation mechanisms are missing, and that votes could easily be tampered. What do you do?
  • You are asked to reduce the fraud-rate on an e-commerce website. You are told to implement customer profiling, and to feed it into a machine-learning system. What could possibily go wrong? What do you do?

These articles would state the issue, explain how it could turn wrong, how did software developers react, and finally how it turned out in the end (sometimes right, sometimes wrong). It could feature cross-posted articles from other sources, along with some original content.

Proposition of a software developers' oath

This section would outline an oath that would be:

  • Short, to be easily readable ;
  • Enforceable, with clear guidelines rather than vague principles ;
  • Shared, to help settle ethical choices among pairs or with the hierarchy.

Previous work on developers' oath: