Speaker Pitch: Ethics in Software

by Boris Baldassari

Software is impacting every area of our lives, and will be even more omnipresent in the future. We have seen on many occasions during the last few years how a small glitch in software can have unprecedented consequences, from data leaks to people being harmed.Hands

As software practitioners and as members of a community, we have a responsibility towards our users, our fellow developers, and the world. In other words, developing software *is* a political act.

In this session we will take the opportunity to consider the ethical implications of software development and production, why it is important, and how we can do it better for the world and for ourselves while still being pragmatic.

The talk will be organized around these points:

  • Review the definition and scope of ethics in our history, from the old-fashioned hacker ethic to modern codes of conduct.
  • Consider the personal, social and political implications of software development for people, communities and societies. The world is not either white or black, and most high-impact ethical decisions actually come from individual, small choices that lay in the grey zone.
  • See how these concerns can be applied on a few practical use cases, in the software industry, in the free software community, and for our own projects.
  • See how the Eclipse Foundation addresses these concerns and actively works on them through various initiatives, from licencing and governance to working groups.

Finally, at the end of the talk we'll have the opportunity to reflect on our own behaviour and activities, as individual software practitioners and as a community, and to look at ways to make our world a better place. Join us!

Boris

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