Important ethical considerations needed in software engineering
Knowing what is correct and inappropriate influences our behavior and decisions and is the focus of the philosophical field of ethics. In the field of software development, ethics refers to the moral standards that programmers follow while creating software that benefits both the environment and the people that inhabit it.
As engineers now have more authority than ever before, ethics are crucial in the field of software engineering. Every part of contemporary life is impacted by software, and it’s not unusual for a small team of developers to create an app that reaches millions of users across national boundaries and cultural barriers. It is the duty of engineers to create software that complies with ethical standards and legitimate commercial requirements. This article will cover five of the most important ethical considerations.
Importance of ethics in software engineering
Sticking to the professional code of ethics formulated for software engineers allows them to help and protect the public, satisfy industry standards and empowers them to create top-notch software. Each of these points is discussed in detail below:
Helping and protecting the public
The creation of software that helps common people is ensured by having a stringent code of ethics. Without ethics, software designers might not care how their work affects other people’s lives or purposefully create something destructive.
Satisfy industry standards
Software developers are required to uphold professional standards that are defined by an ethics code. Professionals in this area should always consider the ethical consequences of their goals before chasing them.
Create top-notch software
Our world operates on software. It makes it possible for our power plants, banks and practically all other contemporary systems to operate. These systems employ useful, universally accessible software of the highest caliber and reliability thanks to ethics.
Most important ethical considerations that software engineers must implement
It is difficult to discuss software ethics without also discussing the issue of data privacy. The concept is straightforward: If a user trusts you with their private information, you must acquire, handle and retain it appropriately. Data privacy standards such as the GDPR, CCPA and other frameworks that attempt to safeguard a user’s online privacy and data must be adhered to. Several factors regarding data privacy that need to be considered include:
- Consent from the user – Be sure to always make it obvious to the user what information you are collecting, how you plan to use it and who you might share it with. Before acquiring any user information, you must always get their permission.
- Focusing on data reduction – This means collecting only the information you need from the user. Only the information required to deliver your services should be included.
- Sharing data with third parties – You are still in charge of the security of any user data you share with third parties. You should carefully select the third parties with whom you disclose user data and let the user know that you are doing so.
- Right to access, rectification and erasure – A user’s data collection should always be accessible to them for rectification and erasure. In many nations, this is not just a courtesy, it is also required by law.
Learning how to comply with the GDPR if working through or monitoring in EU countries, or other laws such as the CCPA, which applies to California residents, are excellent ways to fully comprehend the importance of data privacy. You will develop a solid understanding of what is required to create software that safeguards the confidentiality and personal information of your users.
You can learn more about guidelines and the obligations surrounding collecting and processing personal information in detail by enrolling in an online software engineering degree such as the one offered by Baylor University. Offered 100% online, this flexible degree program will equip you with all the required knowledge that you need to become an ethical software designer.
An excessive number of consumer applications utilize addictive appeal to keep consumers interested. Instead of engaging with an app because they love using it, users interact with it because the programmers have built-in addictive mechanisms that prioritize ongoing engagement and usage over the needs of the user. This is morally wrong. Design elements that are enticing include:
- Numerous alerts and notifications
- Continuous feeds and autoplay
- Features of social validation
- Features for rewards and gamification
Software developers should always think about how new features may affect users’ health, especially when it comes to designing elements that are addictive in apps that are used by millions of users. Writing software that improves a user’s life is key to ethical software design, igniting someone’s fears or taking over their time should be avoided.
Bias in algorithm
Although there is no intrinsic moral code in algorithmic bias software, it could be coupled with datasets that are biased toward a certain user group. This is crucial in the field of artificial intelligence, especially as technology develops and plays a bigger role in society. Make sure the data you give the algorithms is pure before feeding it to them. The information that is used to train such software should represent the diversity of the world’s cultures and countries.
Property encompasses two factors that software designers must take into consideration during the designing process. First, the expertise held by people and organizations and applied to the software development process, and second, the communication channel or bandwidth used to distribute the program to consumers.
Intellectual property rights issues may arise as a result of the knowledge and expertise provided by those involved in the process of developing software. Accessibility is now a thing that may be controlled and owned because of the recent rise and development of internet technology. Disagreements can arise between people and organizations regarding both sorts of property.
Diversity, inclusion and equitable access to technology are at the heart of accessibility. Engineers should strive to create digital environments that are inclusive for everyone, even those with impairments, because software affects the lives of billions of people. In order to make programs more accessible, tools such as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and Microsoft’s Inclusive Design Hub should be utilized.
Making your program more accessible may be accomplished in several ways, including adding alternative text to pictures and making it compatible with assistive technology such as magnifiers to improve visibility, screen readers for the audibly challenged and speech recognition software. In the end, it’s about making sure that everyone has the ability to use the product.