Ethical Software Development

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Ethical Software Development One of the most exciting times for an engineer is during conception and up front planning on a new project. Ideas dance in the mind of an engineer. A new project offers creative possibilities for job advancement, market success, design elegance, exploration, camaraderie and power over a problem. At first, engineers and their managers are motivated to consider the impact of new features and products. This paper explores some of the ethical landscape that the engineer may face in the creative stages of a software development project. I want to explore ethical issues seen by a Western engineer working with Western engineers and also working with Offshore engineers. What issues would the engineer face with those in China? All prejudices aside, this paper attempts to uncover ethical issues that affects the engineers and the software product. A person may naturally experience some fears when faced with the prospect of jointly developing software with engineers located in a different country. To get an idea of what may happen, we will need to look beyond the “us” vs. “them” barrier and see people in their own context. I took this paper as an opportunity to learn about ethics from a Chinese perspective. The intent, however, is to find what has positive ethical effects. Example Issues High Technology: Sometimes a project will be started that requires a technology breakthrough or else a high level of creativity. Stresses from not making those discoveries will often test an engineer’s ability to make good, ethical decisions. Software Process: The process is a required part of any discussion on software development. Software development occurs over many phases, requiring many different skills. The process is a management tool for making sure that everything gets accomplished. One issue with using a process is avoiding the tendency to over-regulate or bureaucratize the engineers and thus impact their sense of respect and positive responsibility. [[1]] Global: The engineer may worry about the potential for delivering a shoddy software product from, cutting corners, the language barrier or any unequal standards of excellence. In addition, will engineers from either country experience a dilution of their moral foundation or feel like they are merely being exploited? It should be clear that ethical issues like these can effect engineers in any country. Global issues will be presented by contrasting the individual morality in the West vs. the relational morality in China.
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