Sunday, December 5, 2010

Professional Ethics and Responsibility

According to Deborah Johnson (2008), the distinction between “guns-for-hire” and professionals is the fact that “guns for hire” will do everything in his or her capabilities for the prices. By contract, a professional will take responsibility for his or her action.
In an ideal world, every professional adheres to a core set of values of the profession. Ethical values include a value of human life in medicine, accuracy in auditing, integrity (among the others) in military and safety in engineering. Number of computer ethics bodies published and maintain code of ethics and conduct such as BCS, ACM and IEEE but due to variability in computing field it is difficult to define ethical behaviour of computing professional.
Since so many non-experts rely on a computer professional expertize, it puts the computer professional in a position of power. Furthermore, the result of a work conducted by a computer expert has direct and indirect impact on users of the product. “Computer experts generally work either as employees in organizations (including corporations, government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations) or as consultants hired to perform work for clients. Often their employer or client does not have the expertise to understand or evaluate the work being performed” Deborah Johnson (2008).
When we consider a role of a company (employer) and the impact of corporate policy and goals on a computer expert, the equation becomes even more complicated. Debora Johnson (2008) explains that “a computer experts might think of themselves as merely agents. They might presume that their client, employer, or supervisor is in charge and the expert’s role is merely to implement the decisions made by those higher up”. Furthermore, the role of a computer expert has a direct impact on the way an organization conducts business. Certain roles pf a computer professional could have conflicting interests with the business goals. For example, a security consultant should accurately identify security vulnerabilities and provide objective (vendor neutral) recommends without being compensated for up-selling a service or a hardware solution.
Debora Johnson (2008) summarizes that “computer experts aren’t just building and manipulating hardware, software, and code; they are building systems that help to achieve important social functions, systems that constitute social arrangements, relationships, institutions, and values.”


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