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    I am against this code for the reason detailed in Ethics for Programmers post.

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      Can you elaborate on what conflict you see between the two? I remember the Ethics for Programmers post from many years ago, and have not read the ACM code carefully yet.

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        Ethics for Programmers says programming is for the benefit of users. “It is a strong ethical obligation on the part of the programmer to make sure that programs do, always, and only, what the user asks them to.”

        ACM code says programming is for the public good. “The Code includes principles formulated as statements of responsibility, based on the understanding that the public good is always the primary consideration.”

        I strongly reject and condemn ACM code because users come before the public good. Consider ethics for lawyers that says the public good is the primary consideration and you shouldn’t defend murderers to the best of your ability. That would be absurd. ACM code is similarly absurd.

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          Lawyer is an interesting comparison. The ACM code seems to most strongly parallel engineering ethics codes (example), where public good is commonly taken to be the primary obligation. Maybe not that surprisingly, since many active ACM members see themselves as engineers, and/or wish the field were more like “real” engineering (put in extra scare quotes). But it’s an interesting question whether that’s the best comparison.

          I agree that a lot of other professional ethics codes recognize primary responsibility to someone more proximal than the public at large. Doctor is another example: doctors do have a general obligation to public health, but this is usually not taken to override their more direct obligation to their patients (i.e. they aren’t supposed to take action to harm the patient even if there were a way to know with high confidence that doing so would benefit the general public overall).

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            But it’s actually in the public’s best interest for anyone charged with a crime to receive a robust defense and fair trial from a competent attorney. It only becomes a “public good” when someone is either found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and therefor faces justice - or is found not guilty and set free - during a fair trial.

            Locking up everyone you merely suspect is guilty actually damages society as a whole.

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              No. You are supposed to be able to tell your attorney you did it, and she’s still supposed to do everything she can to get you off. It’s up to the prosecutor to convince the judge and jury, and for them to decide.

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                You are supposed to be able to tell your attorney you did it, and she’s still supposed to do everything she can to get you off

                I don’t believe that’s the case in the UK or USA. If you have confessed then, because of attorney-client privilege, they are not required to report this, but they are required to advise you to enter a guilty plea and decline to represent you if you refuse. They are required to continue to act in your interest in terms of plea bargaining, advocating for extenuating circumstances (e.g. diminished responsibility), and so on.

                Note that there’s a difference between confessing to your attorney and your attorney thinking that you did it. If you maintain your innocence but your attorney thinks you’re lying, they are still required to act in a way that represents your best interests on the presumption of innocence.

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                  If you tell your attorney you are guilty, and can provide credible information you are not lying, 99.9% of attorneys will recommend you plead guilty because the likelihood you are found not-guilty is extremely low. In this scenario you’re only getting off on some technicality that your lawyer can exploit (which is itself risky) - which again works towards the public good as those procedures work to protect everyone’s civil liberties. Allowing rules to be broken (eg evidence mishandling) because you’re really guilty works against the public good.

                  Also: In the United States, attorneys will actually recommend their client’s plead GUILTY when they’re NOT GUILTY if they are unable to make bail because often if you just plead guilty you can get probation whereas waiting for a trail can take up to 90 days, which you will spend in jail.

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          FWIW, previous discussions on the subject last year and two years ago.

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            Replying to the previous comment “I’m curious what lobsters would come up with if given, say, only 5 sentences to describe a reasonable code of ethics”:

            Most things I could think of can fall under one generalized rule: “Don’t enter into conflicts of interest with your users.” That covers data silos, monopoly abuse, dark patterns, proprietary formats as a way to lock out competition, and addictive gamification. In fact, I would rather use the other four sentences to carve out exceptions to that rule, such as commercialization and limited liability. If your interest is aligned, the remaining rules in the ACM post would rather be considered “good practice” rather than an ethical obligation. They only become relevant in an ethical sense as your interest diverges from the user’s interest.

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              Interesting, but it is practical? If you carve out an exception for commercialization, then how do you prevent conflict of interest?

              Maybe many of the ethical rules can be summarized as “Act as if you haven’t entered into conflicts of interest with your users”.

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                Interesting, but it is practical? If you carve out an exception for commercialization, then how do you prevent conflict of interest?

                I just mean there’s an inherent interest in that your users want a lower price, and you want a higher price. I think as long as you limit this to the general price of the software package, there’s nothing wrong with it. Once you start doing things like asking a high price to export their data, it begins to be skeevy.