[ExI] [Extropolis] New project for EFF (maybe)

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Thu Dec 14 23:24:37 UTC 2023

What I am proposing here is a cultural shift.

I suspect programmers feel guilty about writing code to make things fail.

If a substantial number of them said this is unethical and we won't do
it, chances are the companies would quit asking.

Companies are concerned about their reputation and being known as a
company that forces programmers to do something considered unethical
is not going to enhance their reputation.

It's a long shot I know, but might be worth talking up.


On Thu, Dec 14, 2023 at 1:45 PM efc via extropolis
<extropolis at googlegroups.com> wrote:
> Excellent idea Keith.
> Having a masters degree in philosophy, I'm a bit "damaged" so I always
> make it a point to try and have a discussion with my students about the
> ethics of technology and make them think about the world and future they
> want to help shape through their technical work in the future.
> I think this is a conversation that should start early, and that
> technologists should have often, but it is not enough.
> As long as you are dependent on a salary, and the ask seems relatively
> small and insignificant, it is all too easy to choose the path of least
> resistance and then justify it to yourself or just forget about it.
> Perhaps with some kind of organization helping out in some way, it might
> make that choice a little bit easier on individuals who feel that they
> have no other choice due to financial reasons.
> Best regards,
> Daniel
> On Thu, 14 Dec 2023, Keith Henson wrote:
> > Hi Cindy, John
> >
> > My response to an article on slashdot about hackers that removed the
> > code that bricked trains.
> >
> > If there were social support, programmers could just refuse on ethical
> > grounds to write the code that bricks a train or anything else.
> >
> > Long ago when I was faced with something similar, I was just fired.
> > If there was an organization that made such behavior public in a way
> > that seriously hurt the reputation of a company, they might think
> > twice about such abuse.
> >
> > Would we have to start a new organization for programmers or is there
> > an existing one that could take on this function?  The EFF comes to
> > mind, but open to other suggestions.  I will ask the EFF if they would
> > consider this.
> >
> > Keith
> >
> > Keith
> >
> >
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