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Ethics October 20, 2013

Posted by karlkaluzny in Security.

I thought that the lecture entitled Reflections on Trusting Trust was a very interesting read.  Following a description of a Trojan horse attack, the speaker concluded his speech with the following remarks which I think summed up the theme.  The speaker stated that “You can’t trust code that you did not totally create yourself. ” [1] I think that this is a sad but true statement.  In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to deal with issues such as hacking, but realistically it is a never ending issue.  And because of this issue, things like the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct exist.  The Code contains 24 imperatives in the form of statements of personal responsibilities which identify the elements of a commitment to the Code.  The Code is broken into three sections, fundamental ethical considerations, specific considerations of professional conduct, and finally statements regarding the roles of leaders. [2]

Over my short career as a programmer and an engineer, I have come to greatly value ethics in the area of computer science and engineering.  I have been quite fortunate that my alma mater and my place of employment each highly regarded ethics.  As an electrical engineering student at Grand Valley State University, I signed a code of ethics on my first day as a student.  Any student who violated the code of ethics was subject to expulsion.  The faculty was very serious about the code of ethics as several of my classmates were put on academic probation and at least one was expelled.  At GE Aviation, ethical conduct in business is a requirement.  Each employee has a goal to have no ethical conduct violations each year.  GE has done a great deal to promote a culture which values ethics greatly, and it is one of the greatest reasons that I am proud to be an employee of GE.  Despite the fact that at times it may seem to cost more money to be ethical in business, in the long run the business with benefit from have a clean image.


[1] Thompson, Ken. Reflections on Trusting Trust, Turning Award Lecture

[2] ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, Association for Computing Machinery, http://www.acm.org/about/code-of-ethics/#sect1



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