# Ethics in Software Ethical consequences of software practice
## Plan * Why do ethics matter? * Ethics in History * A modern landscape * Use cases * Conclusion
## Why do ethics matter in software? Technology is not neutral. Note: * We are always making choices. * Our actions have consequences.
### Software is omnipresent * Software is everywhere, and it has a tremendous impact on our lives. * Everyone uses software without even knowing it. * Technology is a double-edged sword [ [Lin2008](http://ethical.software/references) ]. Note: We use software every day. States have digitalised a great part of our data. Our habits, through the phones, computers, network connections and bank transactions, are known and consigned somewhere. Software makes us fly, and sometimes crashes planes [ref needed]. Software makes us leave longer and better, and sometimes kills us when trying to do so [Therac]. Software makes us hear and see the whole world, and sometimes is used to counterfait it. And if war comes upon us, then we'll probably be killed by some software-engineered weapons.
### We are the experts * Not everyone understands what software is. * We do understand software. We do know the limits, the risks, the consequences. We can act. * With great power comes great responsibility. Note: We, as hackers, used to be considered outsiders, on the margins of the society, but with the increase of the importance of the Internet, we have gained considerable power.
### Doing software **is** a political act * **Politics** is the study of the relative distribution of power / authority / privileges in human societies. * Technology is not neutral. * We are always making choices. * Our actions have consequences. Note: Because software is ruling more and more our lives, every action we take when developing, supporting, spreading, or fixing software has a political impact. It has an impact on: * Direct users, how they will do their daily work. * Companies, how they will manage their processes and production lines * Institutions * All people
## Ethics in History References & Lessons from the past.
### Philosophy and ethics Definitions * Ethics is the study of *values* and *customs* of a person or a group. * Or: understanding the difference between right and wrong, and how to apply it. * Or: the philosophy on how to act. Three main streams: Consequencialism, Deontology, Virtue Note: * Many disciplines have a code of professional practice, e.g. Hypocrate's oath for .
### Litterature Isaac Asimov * A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. * A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. * A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
-- From the "Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 A.D."
### Free Software * The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose. * The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish. (*) * The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbour. * The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others. (*)
(*) Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
It also means that following these lines we cannot prevent military use of a piece of software we have written.
### Hackers' ethics [Steven Levy](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_ethic) (1984) suggests that there is a "code of ethics" for hacking which, though not engraved in stone, is in the air: * Access to Computers - and anything which might teach you something about the way the world works - should be unlimited and total. * All information should be free. * Mistrust Authority - Promote Decentralization. * Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not bogus criteria such as degrees, age, race, or position. * Computers can change your life for the better.
## A Modern Landscape References & Ideas for the present.
### Ethics and code of conduct: state of practice * **Code of ethics** is for business and decision-making. * **Code of conduct** is for actions and behaviour. * Some professions have a **Code of professional practice**. * Most organisations now have a code of conduct and/or a code of ethics. Note: * Most of what we call ethics is unwritten. Instead, like many cultural rules, they're mostly implicit. But having a code of conduct is a good thing. It formalises the intent and lays down sane foundations for further discussion and action. * Code of deontology. * Big companies even have a variety of them for their contractors, colleagues, users, providers. * [Code of professional practice & Professional responsibility](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethical_code#Code_of_practice_.28professional_ethics.29)
### Ethics in Open source communities * All major forges (e.g. Apache, Eclipse, OpenStack) have a code of conduct and enforce it. * There is a common concern about the understanding, interpretation, and application of an ethics code and in most cases of a breach there are prompt reactions. * Procedures exist to report and deal with cases. * Strong emphasis on respect, diversity, fairness.
### Ethics at Eclipse * Transparency, Openness, Meritocracy * **IP policy** — it's not only for lawyers, it's also for fairness. * **Governance** — a transparent and independent structure. * Many initiatives from members: diversity, demo camps, talks. * You can follow the conversation on the Diversity channel on Mattermost.
## Use Cases It's not always easy.
### Use Cases > Whistleblowers * *It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it.* [ [Upton Sinclair](https://medium.com/@aarijmerchant/thank-you-for-sharing-your-experience-fc67bfc447c0) ] * Loyalty is important, but conscience is even more so. It requires courage and preparation. * Now some job interviews include such questions. * Transparency against corruption.
### Use Cases > Killer robots * Self-triggering weapons: no human in the loop. * Killer robots already exist (DoDaam, Samsung). * Antipersonnel mines are forbidden by the Geneva convention. * Kill switches? International ban?
### Use Cases > Diesel gate * Big [institutionalised lie](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel_emissions_scandal). Everybody knew. * Meanwhile, [3 million people](http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/) die every year from outdoor air pollution. * Even whistleblowers were not heard (at least in France). Note: * A [big institutionalised lie](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel_emissions_scandal). The European authorities knew it, the states knew it, the company knew it. But as Segolene Royal (the former french head of the ministry for the environment) said during a commission review on the matter, "we cannot impede our national companies". * Meanwhile, outdoor air pollution [kills 3M people per year](http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/) in the world.
## Conclusion What about us?
### Know yourself * Between what we know we would do and what we know we would never do there is a grey zone. * Most of the time the devil lies in this grey zone. * As a consequence, what we need to do is reduce this zone. Note: * Care. Be nice, do good. Discuss.
### What's next? * Where is our grey zone? Do we do it right? * If we were to write a manifesto, what would it be? Note: * Care. Be nice. Do good. Discuss.
### Thank you * References: http://ethical.software * Get the slides: http://ethical.software/talks/2017_eclipsecon_france