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Schoolwork: Code of Ethics

Posted by Peter W on April 9, 2007

1. Find URLs for three sites that contain a code of ethics for computer scientists or software
engineers. Two of the sources should be well-known professional organizations in computing (e.g. ACM)

If you search for “software engineering code of ethics”, or “computer science code of ethics”, you get tons of hits, but it seems that ever since the ACM and IEEE teamed up to write the Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice, almost every other site that contains a code of ethics for software developers just refers you to the ACM/IEEE document. In the end, what I found was that IEEE document, a general ACM ethics document, and the Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics from the CPSR which is short and sweet.

2. Find a URL for a site that contains a code of ethics for a discipline OTHER than for Computer Scientists and/or Software Engineers (e.g. mechanical engineering). Explain how the code of ethics for this and (1) are similar. Also explain how they are different in theme, if at all.

For mechanical engineers, there is the ASME’s Code of Ethics of Engineers (pdf).

Similarities include saying that knowledge and skills should be used for enhancing the wellbeing of society, that engineers (both the mechanical and software variety) should be honest and always have the best interest of their employers and the public in mind, that advancement of the profession’s prestige is important, and that engineers should not do work they aren’t qualified for.

Differences include the fact that the ASME document is one page, compared to the ACM/IEEE’s 8-page document (apparently, design by two committees produces even longer documents than just one can, or maybe the ASME didn’t have a committee come up with their version). Also, the ME doc stresses that physical safety of created products is important, the software ethics codes talk about not using pirated software and that software managers should manage their employees in the most “ethical” way possible and should be “fair and supportive” of their colleagues. The 10 commandments document talks about not using computers to do bad things, which the ME folks don’t have to worry about.

3. Locate a web page that contains information that could be used as a guide when developing a Code of Ethics for yourself or a company. The site should be from a reputable organization or individual.

Here is a document explaining the process… not a step by step guide but it has good information in it:
Authoring a Code of Ethics: Observations on Process and Organization.

4. Find a URL that provides guidance to an individual who finds a significant legal or ethical
problem within an organization but is afraid to report it.

There are a few decent links:


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