A group of Perl companies are sponsoring the COED:ETHICS conference, a one-day conference on ethics for developers and technologists, which is in London on July 13th.

"Hey, I'm just a programmer!", "I didn't know my code would be used to do that", "it's not my job to worry about that", "everyone (else) does it!", "my manager told me to do it".

There have been a number of widely published ethical failures of the software industry recently, some of the most reported being Facebook's inappropriate release of user data, and VW cheating on emissions tests. Software has "unexpectedly" been used to discriminate against groups of people, trick them into doing something, manipulate the stock market, cheat them out of something, or worse.

It's easy for developers to get tunnel vision, and just focus on the challenge, interest, frustration, and joy associated with the act of developing itself, ignoring the bigger issues. As with quality and security, ethical considerations are not something you deal with at the end of a project; they aren't like bugs: they have to be considered up front, and they should be the concern of everyone. That said, programmers shouldn't wait for others to take the lead.

COED:ETHICS is an inexpensive one-day conference about ethics for developers and technologists, in London on July 13th. There is a great lineup of speakers, and topics include: insights from US drone strikes; ethical treatment of large data sets; empowering users; ethical anti-patterns; ethical decision-making; and chatbots.

We believe this is an important and timely topic, so a group of Perl companies, both large and small, decided to sponsor the event. We particularly want to reinforce the message that this is an issue for programmers, and not something for others to deal with.

I will be attending, and hope to give a talk at least at the London Perl Workshop, with distilled insights from COED:ETHICS, and what ethics might mean for Perl developers, and for CPAN authors.

1 Comment

What a shame it is happening during weekdays :-(

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About Neil Bowers

user-pic Perl hacker since 1992.