Integrity and ethics in IT

IT is not an intellectual puzzle put there for you to show how clever you are, divorced from the social and moral implications of your work.

I've blogged on personal accountability before:

    Who do you work for? What does your employer ask of you? Are you comfortable with the social consequences of what you do? Most of us deal with ethical challenges when working in IT. The question is how well we do so. We are not just guardians of information: we are also at the centre of the operation of most organisations. A lot more than data flows past us and we enable a lot more than just transactions. In what we do and what we see, we are answerable to our own personal morality as we shape the new society.

Latest news is the issue of gaming addiction.

    "I think there's an increased sense of accountability that these companies are making stuff that is addictive; that is affecting children, adults, adolescents, and that they have some responsibility to at least educate, warn, acknowledge, and maybe even help fund research and treatment,"
    ..."to protect our minds"

I watch my sons battle this. I had my own challenges with billiards, pinball, and Space Invaders, but this is a new level of crack. I'm sure the people who puzzle out how to make these games more compulsive think its a fun challenge for them to drive up the retention graph.

Then there are those who helped Trump get elected. I bet the technical people at Cambridge Analytica just think they're clever. The "I was just treating it as an intellectual challenge" defence of one geek I saw go public made me retch. I guess none of us realised just how quickly the USA would unravel, and just how bad the Mango Mussolini would be, but amongst intelligent people (such as the IT industry), most of us knew it would be bad. Now the whole planet gets to deal with the consequences for decades.

Then again, my employer once landed a big software deal with Phillip Morris. I asked my boss not to put me in the position of having to make that decision, and i never went near the account. But I stayed at my job.

I watched colleagues quit and walk away when their pet product was acquired by a competitor. That's not ethics, that's just petulant emotion. Only their family suffers.

So how far do you take it? A long way if it matters. Google faced open mutiny over their military projects to automate kill target recognition. Edward Snowden is still a hero. So is Chelsea Manning.

At some point your morality should matter more than your cool job. It's for all of us to decide where the line is, but it's better to die on your feet than live on your knees. They don't own you

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