Ethics & Programming Debate

This is a discussion on Ethics & Programming Debate within the A Brief History of Cprogramming.com forums, part of the Community Boards category; Topic: What are the responsibilities of a programmer, if you write a trojan, can you legitimately claim that it was ...

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    Ethics & Programming Debate

    Topic: What are the responsibilities of a programmer, if you write a trojan, can you legitimately claim that it was for educational purposes? What about virii? When does programming turn from a white magic into a black one? Let's have a good discussion on this one.

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    Registered User dirkduck's Avatar
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    i was screweing around with the 'system' command once, as i wanted to make a prog to clear my temorary internet files...but i forgot a '/' and it erased my whole windows directory...hah, it was fun watching windows go down the drain ...

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    Linguistic Engineer... doubleanti's Avatar
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    one reason i don't want to do this professionally [pysch, even if i could... ] is because i innately do not want to have to go through red tape... even something which might not bother anyone else... ie coding standards... ........es me off to no end. it's a hobby, i feel the control... and eventually you'll see my art on e-bay... selling data, is that right? well anyhow... that's that...
    hasafraggin shizigishin oppashigger...

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    Fingerstyle Guitarist taylorguitarman's Avatar
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    I think you can write destructive code without being immoral. When you release it publicly, that's a different story. I think it's good to learn about that sort of thing ( and the only way to learn is try ) but please, set up a dummy system to test it on, not real people.
    How about writing "safety" measures into corporate software? Like if you don't register this product or pay more for it, then it won't work. I understand the need to protect personal work and make money but I think that goes too far.
    It's a very grey area but derseves thought every once in a while.

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    taylorguitarman, what's wrong with a bit of protection for something tons of people spent tons of time on? (hmm... playing the devil's advocate can be fun)

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    It's full of stars adrianxw's Avatar
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    I don't need to play da here, (that's "devils advocate" doubleanti).

    I am really not sure how many man years has gone into our products, but even the simplest has upwards of half a million lines of code in it - trialed, tested and ISO certified.

    taylorguitarman:

    Do you believe we should trust people to pay the licence fees for those products and not protect all that investment?

    Generally:

    What do the rest of you think about working on military software? I never have, and never would, but that's me.
    Wave upon wave of demented avengers march cheerfully out of obscurity unto the dream.

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    Prisoner of my own mind
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    Presuambly McAfee and Symmantec employ people to write trojans and viruses in order to test their anti-virus and firewall products.
    The real dilemma surely comes when these people realise they could "untracably" release a virus/trojan with the sole purpose to generate sales and increase shareholder value, just like in MI2, but with computers rather than people.

    What do you count as "Military" software, I've maintained code which test components which we supply solely to a military customer, and I think I've managed not to commit treason by saying so and being vague about it. I've never felt bad about it, but mainly because I trust the customer.

    I have no qualms with big companies protecting their investment at a reasonable rate/price. Some licence or subscription fees are extortionate however especially compared to the level of service you recieve in return.

    Remember in all your software to put in disclaimers about limited liability in the case of death due to using your software, this aspect of law is very ill defined and blame can be entirely out upon individual programmers not companies.
    Lead me not into temptation... I can find it myself.

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    It's full of stars adrianxw's Avatar
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    RobS:

    What I mean is code which will be used for weapons. Consider a Tomahawk. This is a device who's entire reason for being is to deliver a warhead. It contains a lot of code, somebody wrote it. What do the people here think about the ethics of that?
    Wave upon wave of demented avengers march cheerfully out of obscurity unto the dream.

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    Registered User EvenFlow's Avatar
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    If they dont' catch you, it's not illegal - he he
    Ramble on...

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    It's full of stars adrianxw's Avatar
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    >>> If they dont' catch you, it's not illegal - he he

    You see what I mean? While that attitude prevails, companies will use measures to protect their investment - you cannot trust people to pay what they should.
    Wave upon wave of demented avengers march cheerfully out of obscurity unto the dream.

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    Registered User EvenFlow's Avatar
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    Chill out - I was only joking.

    However, If companies didn't markup the price by 1000% percent, more software would be sold.
    Ramble on...

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    It's full of stars adrianxw's Avatar
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    >>> - I was only joking.

    Maybe so, but there are many out there that have exactly that attitude.

    >>> If companies didn't markup the price by 1000% percent

    I doubt companies could routinely do this and stay in business.
    Wave upon wave of demented avengers march cheerfully out of obscurity unto the dream.

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    Prisoner of my own mind
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    Surely no one part is greater than the whole, the code I wrote\modified will still ultimately allow the 'successful?' delivery of a warhead.

    When production is complete here and components shipped and are built into systems and vehicles which are used to blow things up and kill people I'm just as responsible as anyone else over the whole process.

    But because I, and my Government, "know" the customer and their likely use of the technology I have no ethical problem for it, even if I worked for DERA, MOD or Qinetic, whoever and was explicitely writing the code to deliver the warhead.
    Lead me not into temptation... I can find it myself.

  14. #14
    It's full of stars adrianxw's Avatar
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    >>> Surely no one part is greater than the whole

    No, of course not. So your answer to my question is that you do not have an ethical problem with working with military software.

    Fair enough that is all I asked, as the thread was about coding and ethics, it seemed a reasonable question.
    Wave upon wave of demented avengers march cheerfully out of obscurity unto the dream.

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    Red Panda basilisk's Avatar
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    Personally i refuse to work with any military installations as well as pharmaceutical and tobacco companies because of their company policies
    Do not meddle in the ways of dragons, for thou art crunchy and taste good with ketchup

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