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Unmasking Your Software's Ethical Risks
January/February 2010 (vol. 27 no. 1)
pp. 12-13
Donald Gotterbarn, East Tennessee State University
Keith W. Miller, University of Illinois at Springfield
Software engineers need to anticipate unintended consequences, including negative impacts on society, individuals, and the environment. Even developers with the best of intentions can walk into ethical traps. This article includes four suggestions for software engineers during system development to help recognize these traps: (1) Look for humans values in technical decisions. (2) Identify stakeholders—groups and individuals likely to be affected by the system. (3) Examine how the system will affect the stakeholders' rights and obligations. (4) Review relevant professional standards.

1. D. Hall, "The Ethical Software Engineer," IEEE Software, July/Aug. 2009, pp. 9–10.
2. M. Cummings, "Automation and Accountability in Decision Support System Interface Design," web.mit.edu/aeroastro/labs/halab/papers/Cummings_JTS.pdf.
3. D. Gotterbarn, K. Miller, and S. Rogerson, "Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice," Computer, Oct. 1999, pp. 84–88; www.computer.org/ethics.

Index Terms:
Ethics, risks, ethics code, stakeholder rights
Citation:
Donald Gotterbarn, Keith W. Miller, "Unmasking Your Software's Ethical Risks," IEEE Software, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 12-13, Jan.-Feb. 2010, doi:10.1109/MS.2010.23
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