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posted by Fnord666 on Monday August 13 2018, @11:10AM   Printer-friendly
from the Keep-everything-under-digital-lock dept.

Computer Programmers get new Tech Ethics Code

The guidelines come from the Association for Computing Machinery

Technological professionals are the first, and last, lines of defense against the misuse of technology. Nobody else understands the systems as well, and nobody else is in a position to protect specific data elements or ensure the connections between one component and another are appropriate, safe and reliable. As the role of computing continues its decades-long expansion in society, computer scientists are central to what happens next.

Personally, I am quite concerned that our Congress has not attached Responsibility with Rights when it comes to software. If someone is going to claim ownership and rights to a piece of code then protect it with electronic lock or obscurity, why aren't they also held 100% responsible if that code causes mayhem?

We just had a story here about the concerns we have about a hemoglobin based meat substitute ... and what we go through to make damn sure the substance is harmless to life before we introduce it into the food chain... and even *that* has to be completely described and its molecular structure demonstrated.

Can you imagine the uproar if Chemists started releasing anything tasty, that people would eat, and call it "food"? And would our Congress grant them the right to withhold information as to what it was? Then hold them harmless for whatever it did to people?


Original Submission

Related Stories

FDA Approves Impossible Burger "Heme" Ingredient; Still Wants to Regulate "Cultured Meat" 14 comments

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved soy leghemoglobin as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for human consumption:

Last August, documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that the FDA hadn't stomached the company's previous GRAS application. The agency concluded that soy leghemoglobin—a protein found in the roots of soybean plants that Impossible Foods harvests from genetically engineered yeast and uses to simulate the taste and bloodiness of meat—had not been adequately tested for safety.

In the application, Impossible Foods argued that the iron-containing protein is equivalent to hemoglobin, an oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells and commonly consumed in meat. Thus, the protein was safe, the company concluded. It went as far as conducting studies in rats to back up the claim. But the FDA noted that soy leghemoglobin had never been used as an additive before, and the organization wanted data showing that the protein was safe and not an allergen specifically for humans.

[...] At the time, the decision was a searing blow to Impossible Foods, which up until then had fired up the appetites of investors and top chefs alike and savored glowing publicity. Since the company's founding in 2011, big names such as Bill Gates and Google Ventures served up more than $250 million in startup funds, and the impossible patty sizzled on the menus of such high-end restaurants as Momofuku Nishi in New York and Jardinière in San Francisco. The soy leghemoglobin was a big part of that hype, with the company touting it as its "secret sauce."

But the FDA's gut check didn't knock Impossible Foods off the market; it just left a bad taste. In fact, the company wasn't even required to submit its GRAS application to begin with due to the controversial way in which the FDA oversees food additives and GRAS designations. Under the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and the 1958 Food Additives Amendment, the FDA allows food companies and their hired consultants to internally test and determine a GRAS designation of a potential new additive all on their own. They can start using it without getting approval from the FDA or even notifying the agency. The FDA only steps in after the fact if problems arise.

Impossible Foods' FAQ says "the heme molecule in plant-based heme is atom-for-atom identical to the heme molecule found in meat". Heme is a component of soy leghemoglobin consisting of an iron atom bound in a porphyrin ring.

Meanwhile, the FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are continuing to fight over which agency will have jurisdiction over "cultured meat" (i.e. lab-grown animal cells for human consumption):

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @11:53AM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @11:53AM (#720915)

    Can you imagine the uproar if Chemists started releasing anything tasty, that people would eat, and call it "food"?

    You imagine they don't?
    NEWSFLASH: they do.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Food_additives [wikipedia.org]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Food_Substitutes [wikipedia.org]
    Given large enough PR budget and legal department, every unimaginable thing can become food for the masses.

    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @12:28PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @12:28PM (#720928)

      Found the incel!

      Incel misogynerds are responsible for all the evils in the world. Plumber, electrician, sandhog, construction, all professions that have perfect gender balance of at least 50% women.¹ It's only programming that attracts you incel misogynerds who have a worse grasp of ethics than LITERAL HITLER.

      If only you'd stop chasing women out of your field. But you hate women because you can't get laid! Death to incels! Ethics committees be upon them!

      ¹ Note: I'm a gaslighting capitalist asshole, so I only looked at the demographics for ownership of companies in those fields. I don't give a shit about you working class incels.

    • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Monday August 13 2018, @03:20PM (2 children)

      by Freeman (732) on Monday August 13 2018, @03:20PM (#721006) Journal

      Case in point, Carmine. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmine [wikipedia.org]

      --
      Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
      • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Monday August 13 2018, @05:45PM (1 child)

        by HiThere (866) on Monday August 13 2018, @05:45PM (#721062) Journal

        Do you have any evidence that it *does* cause an allergic reaction in anyone? Just because some groups are afraid that it might doesn't mean that this is a reasonable stance.

        P.S.: If you're allergic to insects, don't eat wheat, rye, corn flour, etc. Those are all allowed to contain small amounts of ground insects. So are most other foods, as it's almost impossible to keep insects out of the food, so all that's required is limiting the amount.

        --
        Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
        • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Monday August 13 2018, @06:33PM

          by Freeman (732) on Monday August 13 2018, @06:33PM (#721082) Journal

          I wasn't meaning to imply that it was inherently bad for you. I just was going with the noted factor that carmine is directly derived from insects. Which isn't something most people would think.

          --
          Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
    • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Tuesday August 14 2018, @11:24AM

      by urza9814 (3954) on Tuesday August 14 2018, @11:24AM (#721327) Journal

      I was gong to say that they DID...took a lot of research, many years, and many deaths to bring about the current (and still rather lax as you point out) level of regulation. And the general public ought to understand food additives and risks a hell of a lot better than they understand technological risks.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_Washington_Wiley [wikipedia.org]

      That's the problem IMO...and you can't possibly solve it just by adding some ethics discussions as a required part of a computer science degree. You can't solve it just by looking at the coders. We have this entire society that was convinced to start buying computers without really knowing what they did or how they worked; and controlling and exploiting these people is sufficiently profitable that someone is going to try. The only real solution is to educate the end users so they can stop buying this garbage.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by theluggage on Monday August 13 2018, @12:04PM (15 children)

    by theluggage (1797) on Monday August 13 2018, @12:04PM (#720918)

    Personally, I am quite concerned that our Congress has not attached Responsibility with Rights when it comes to software. If someone is going to claim ownership and rights to a piece of code then protect it with electronic lock or obscurity, why aren't they also held 100% responsible if that code causes mayhem?

    Because the result would be that only mega-corporations with hot and cold running lawyers, mutually-assured-destruction pacts with their competitors and a well-funded thumb on the scales of justice would be able to take the risk of publishing software.

    Reading between the lines of your post, you're excluding open source software (which would otherwise be killed stone dead by strict liability) - yet open source authors still have government-enforced rights over their code, and can still sell binaries or provide supporting services for profit, or gain other strategic advantages. Maybe people can inspect the source, but, reality check: that's a difficult job for even an experienced coder and completely unrealistic for the vast majority of end-users. The "Heartbleed" chaos was caused by open-source code - and while it was eventually caught by code analysis, it had already become ubiquitous, and much expense was incurred patching it. NB: Oracle and Microsoft (dramatic peal of thunder) have open-source products... they'd soon find a loophole that let them open-source the risks and DRM the profits - or are you proposing to turn GPL3 from a license into a law?

    How do you think juries are going to decide whether a particular flaw is down to the application coder or a consequence of poor design of the underlying OS or standard library?

    Liability law is pretty good at making lawyers rich after the fact while forcing everybody to take out expensive insurance, not so good at preventing things going wrong in the first place.

    • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Monday August 13 2018, @01:23PM (13 children)

      by RS3 (6367) on Monday August 13 2018, @01:23PM (#720947)

      Yes, excellent points, but my comment here should be top-level: all throughout society there are products made which can cause great problems. The code is made available to anyone who wishes to inspect it before using it. If you trust it and hope that lots of people have inspected it and it's okay and you run it, it's on you. Example: it's not the dynamite manufacturer's fault if you light it and hold it in your hand (that's more of a Darwinian genetic self-repair mechanism).

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bzipitidoo on Monday August 13 2018, @01:54PM (12 children)

        by bzipitidoo (4388) on Monday August 13 2018, @01:54PM (#720968) Journal

        I am a member of the ACM. I read over the ethics policy when it was a proposal, and made some comments about it. What concerned me most was a kind of arrogance implied in the policy, that takes for granted that we have the control and power to act effectively upon whatever ethical problems we see, and also that we are the best judges of what is or is not ethical.

        An all too common problem in the workplace is the boss ordering workers to do illegal things, upon pain of losing their jobs if they refuse. And, they may not realize that the boss is asking for something illegal or even unethical, if the work wanted is expressed blandly enough, or the rule being flouted is obscure, such as some reporting requirement. The boss might not know either.

        For instance, is it unethical to attempt to implement DRM? How about writing control software for red light cameras and traffic lights, with options to set the timings of the light changes to any amount desired down to 0 seconds, even though such short durations are illegal in many jurisdictions? If you do design the software with minimum durations, there's nothing stopping someone else with even very limited programming skill from hunting for that snippet of code and changing the minimum to some other, smaller value.

        • (Score: 2, Flamebait) by VLM on Monday August 13 2018, @02:00PM (3 children)

          by VLM (445) on Monday August 13 2018, @02:00PM (#720973)

          You also have time value issues, WRT politics Overton window moving very fast on the left.

          Manufacturing a product white people buy such that it doesn't electrocute them or burn their house down might be declared ethically "racist" in a couple years, for example at current trends.

          Somewhat less hypothetical, is manufacture of hair straightening beauty products for women, or presumably working in such a companies IT department, inherently unethical and racist or merely meeting a market need for random and arbitrary standards of beauty or ...

          • (Score: 3, Informative) by RS3 on Monday August 13 2018, @03:51PM (2 children)

            by RS3 (6367) on Monday August 13 2018, @03:51PM (#721017)

            This is awesome, but I don't know whether to laugh or cry!

            • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @05:05PM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @05:05PM (#721045)

              Wow, you just love all the crazies on this site! Lovely company you choose to endorse.

              • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Tuesday August 14 2018, @03:22AM

                by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday August 14 2018, @03:22AM (#721217)

                Comeon, it's free entertainment! Someone's got to egg them on. :)

        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by RS3 on Monday August 13 2018, @02:07PM (7 children)

          by RS3 (6367) on Monday August 13 2018, @02:07PM (#720978)

          Wow, thank you, thank you for contributing here.

          As I've commented further down in this discussion, and too many times over the years, the wrong people are in charge. I understand someone with 10+ years direct hands-on experience becoming a boss who hopefully understands all the facets of production, but I'm frustrated beyond words how someone with no technical knowledge can have technical decision-making power; ie: the EXPERT can be overruled. I used to think I was one of the few unlucky ones. What a mess things have become. How is it that society just can't seem to learn from its own mistakes?

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @02:27PM (6 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @02:27PM (#720987)

            Manager vs. worker is not a divide made on the basis of higher expertise; it is a division based on class.
            The manager directs the workers (oversees them) and makes the decisions, while the workers do the work they are told to do.
            I'm not saying there is no expertise to being a manager (although many seemingly lack it--but that may be more of a systemic, organizational problem than an individual one). It is a different job than that of the worker.

            • (Score: 5, Insightful) by RS3 on Monday August 13 2018, @04:25PM

              by RS3 (6367) on Monday August 13 2018, @04:25PM (#721027)

              I think most people know that. I think what's broken is that the wrong personality-types are drawn into management / supervision. Much like most of politics, really. Some people are inherently "bossy". There are some great books, and lots of youtube vids. by psychologists talking about narcissistic, sociopathic, controlling, etc., people. The system supports, encourages, upholds, enables, and engenders bossy jerks. The system needs help. I can think of many times I wished a company had an internal court / hearing / referee system. Those companies are all out of business now, btw. Self-destructed.

            • (Score: 2) by sjames on Monday August 13 2018, @05:10PM (4 children)

              by sjames (2882) on Monday August 13 2018, @05:10PM (#721049) Journal
              >p>The problem comes in when bad managers (who are legion) don't recognize that management is just another job done within a team and imagine themselves to be superior to the rest. It's just a short step from there to failing to ask the actual experts and making decisions they're not qualified to make.
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @06:36PM (3 children)

                by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @06:36PM (#721085)

                The workplace is not a democracy.
                It is hierarchical, almost dictatorial.
                This reinforces the tendency to tell people what to do rather than getting input from the peons.
                Remember, your boss may have been dictated to with no authority to change things. Passing it along, as it were.
                Plus in any hierarchy, you must constantly strive to maintain your place in it.

                • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Tuesday August 14 2018, @03:36AM (2 children)

                  by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday August 14 2018, @03:36AM (#721220)

                  I agree that many workplaces are that way, but W. Edwards Deming https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming [wikipedia.org], Tom Peters https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Peters [wikipedia.org], and many others have studied and understand that a more cooperative and democratic workplace results in happier workers, more productivity, better product quality, overall win-win for everyone.

                  The wiki doesn't give much detail, but the story I remember (on a PBS special) is that Deming tried to convince US manufacturers of his methods right after WW II but they rejected him. The Japanese liked him, brought him over, and after years of learning and refinement, made them into the product quality powerhouse they became and are. The Chins are beating them in some areas where people want cheap more than good. Ford brought him in, but they spent more $ on advertising "Quality is Job #1" than actually doing it. Tom Peters worked with Harley-Davidson and turned that company around for many years, after the AMF debacle. Part of it was he got the company to make the employees part owners, and generally got management and workers to work together.

                  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bzipitidoo on Wednesday August 15 2018, @04:58PM (1 child)

                    by bzipitidoo (4388) on Wednesday August 15 2018, @04:58PM (#721844) Journal

                    Seems the lesson that free people make happier and more productive workers has to be learned over and over. "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it".

                    The US Civil War is a strong lesson that just won't stay learned. Before they started the war, the slave side was already way behind. Yet rather than admit slavery wasn't working, that they were not able to compete with the free states, and let slavery fade out, they blamed their own failures on others and turned to violence. Their only real hope of victory was that the free side would not fight, or would quickly tire of fighting, and so it was incredibly stupid to start the fighting, and then conduct the war in a manner not only to gain military victory, but also to humiliate the free side. But the slave side really had to do it that way, as they had stuffed themselves full of all kinds of hypocritical propaganda and nonsense such as the "Southern Gentleman" idea that each of their men were worth 2 Yankees. And, the ridiculous wistful thought that a whole legion of blacks wasn't the equal of one white Southern gentleman, any more than a troop of monkeys could overcome one well-prepared human. Of course none of this held up when tested in war.

                    A big problem is that often management has a hidden agenda, best expressed as nepotism and cronyism. And some of these utterly unqualified managers enjoy being put in a superior position over others, to grind their betters down and assuage their feelings of insecurity, jealously, and bitterness. It's the resentful, angry, and stupid college dropout in charge of college graduates. They don't understand much, and resort to slave driver tactics to manage the people stuck working under them. in part because that's all they understand (they will know a little about the Civil War, enough to argue in favor of the Lost Cause, and that the war was really about states rights), and in part out of sadistic revenge.

                    • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Wednesday August 15 2018, @06:13PM

                      by RS3 (6367) on Wednesday August 15 2018, @06:13PM (#721872)

                      Wow, don't hold back! Thank you, great post. I echo the sentiment, especially about the sadistic tendencies of some people. But on some level I accept all of it as a failure of humanity; better said, the ways that negative traits gain a stronghold. Looking at society, self-government, "good" people making hopefully good just laws and enforcing them justly, it would be nice if corporations had better internal rules, laws, codes of behavior, watchdogs, whistleblower protections, etc. Generally self-cleaning political structure. On a small scale we have jobsearch websites allowing comments and reviews of company environment, so that's a start, but of course it's the vociferous few, so not highly statistically relevant.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @10:21PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @10:21PM (#721154)

      Client needs - check
      System design - check
      Coding - check
      Testing - check
      Ethics review - uhoh... PC-ism arrives:

      I'm sorry Larry, your software is very good but the Ethics Committee in HR have raised some concerns. As a result we are going to need to let you go.

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @12:10PM (18 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @12:10PM (#720920)

    When you learn to code, you are dooming yourself to a life in poverty and death in the gutter.

    There are zero jobs for coders. Zero! You will never find work no matter how much code you write. It won't matter how much you study. It won't matter how much you keep your skills up. It won't matter how many degrees or certifications you have. It won't matter how much you blog. It won't matter how much you contribute to open source.

    When you learn to code, you will be jobless for life. You will die poor.

    There are no jobs for coders. There is no money to be made by coding. None.

    • (Score: 4, Touché) by The Mighty Buzzard on Monday August 13 2018, @12:16PM (11 children)

      Damn, does that mean I have to give all this money back and drop all my current contracts?

      --
      My rights don't end where your fear begins.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @12:38PM (4 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @12:38PM (#720933)

        Do not believe the deceitful lies of frauds who will tell you about the abundance of high paying jobs for coders and the huge piles of money they claim to have gained by coding. It is all lies. Do not be tricked into getting that computer science degree with the promise of lucrative work. Do not be foolish enough to think that multiple computer science degrees will help you any better. It is impossible to get a job in coding. There are no coding jobs. Do not waste your time building open source software with the vain hope that you will someday get noticed and make your big break into paid coding. There is no such thing as paid coding. The pay is a lie.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @03:47PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @03:47PM (#721016)

          Well, if you want to win TMB over to your side, it might help to suggest to the reader what career she should choose instead.

          Welding, CNC operation, industrial robotics, all good things that anybody thinking about being a programmer should choose instead. Those jobs are more in demand, can't be outsourced, and in my neck of the woods, they (consequently) pay more too!

          • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Monday August 13 2018, @05:50PM

            by HiThere (866) on Monday August 13 2018, @05:50PM (#721064) Journal

            I *think* the demand for CNC operator has peaked. Of course, there are still jobs for Cobol programmers.

            --
            Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
          • (Score: 3, Informative) by The Mighty Buzzard on Tuesday August 14 2018, @01:36PM

            Industrial electrician. It's not ever going to make you rich but there will never be too many of them and their jobs will never in a million years be automated away.

            --
            My rights don't end where your fear begins.
        • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Monday August 13 2018, @04:34PM

          by tangomargarine (667) on Monday August 13 2018, @04:34PM (#721031)

          Where do you live?

          Also, "coding" and "software development" are two different terms. "Coding" is perceived more as grunt work. So yeah, maybe there aren't many jobs for keyboard monkeys; that doesn't mean that you can't get a job developing software.

          --
          "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
      • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Monday August 13 2018, @01:25PM (2 children)

        by RS3 (6367) on Monday August 13 2018, @01:25PM (#720951)

        Do you really have any tangible thing of value, or just placation bits in a database?

        • (Score: 2) by pvanhoof on Monday August 13 2018, @02:53PM (1 child)

          by pvanhoof (4638) on Monday August 13 2018, @02:53PM (#720994) Homepage

          Let him whine. Less people starting coding means more contracts for us. We have plenty already. But hey. We can always charge even more Monneh. Also, more new/young people coding doesn't seem to mean more useful technology. Look at the IoT market, the advertising market, most web development that is going on: it's all rubbish. The younger generations of coders are just flooding society with crap.

          I think we actually need less people coding. But the fewer people who do being more responsible for what they produce, meanwhile earning more. Kinda like you don't need 60 doctors for 100 villagers in a village. You need a few who know their profession well, are respected because they are competent at their job. And earn good.

          • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Tuesday August 14 2018, @03:40AM

            by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday August 14 2018, @03:40AM (#721222)

            (I like where you're going. We can collaborate offsite. I have a plan to keep the noobs busy making predictable crap code, and we'll fix it for big $. I'm not the first to have such a plan, but it'll work I tell ya.)

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday August 14 2018, @10:14AM (2 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 14 2018, @10:14AM (#721309) Journal

        Damn, does that mean I have to give all this money back and drop all my current contracts?

        Unfortunately, yes. I'm handling the erroneous income redistribution (EIR) for North America. We're seeing EIR all over the place and have implemented the following streamlined procedures to reduce the workload on you. Just send us the check for the amount of income you erroneously thought you had received and we'll make sure it goes to the right people. There's no further need for you to fill out onerous paperwork. We have everything we need in our database to properly correct these problems.

        • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Tuesday August 14 2018, @01:38PM (1 child)

          Okey doke. I'll be charging you consultant rates for the paperwork though.

          --
          My rights don't end where your fear begins.
          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday August 14 2018, @04:39PM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 14 2018, @04:39PM (#721414) Journal
            My... your consultant rates are a bit steep. I hope you don't mind if we shrink all the print to 6 point so that you can more readily process the paperwork? Our efficiency experts have told me as a result it shouldn't take more than three minutes of your time to locate the signature line and sign the documents.
    • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Monday August 13 2018, @12:28PM (3 children)

      by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Monday August 13 2018, @12:28PM (#720929) Homepage Journal

      I've been making The Global Computer Industry Index truly "Global" by listing all the locations of a few multinationals.

      When I worked at Apple in the mid-90s they had 11,000 employees. Now they have over 100,000.

      Surely there are _some_ real job openings.

      --
      Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @12:45PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @12:45PM (#720938)

        Never believe job postings. All job postings are fake. The jobs do not exist. Every job board is a scam to waste your time. Applying for any job in any job board will get you exactly nothing. Do not be foolish enough to think that there must be at least one real job out there. The real job you are looking for is a myth. You will only waste your life trying to find it. There are zero jobs for coders. Coding jobs do not exist.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Monday August 13 2018, @01:11PM

          by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Monday August 13 2018, @01:11PM (#720943) Homepage Journal

          However, when you try an antidepressant, that particular antidepressant might well not work at all. But _every_ antidepressant, if it _does_ work, takes quite a long time before it makes a different. So for each antidepressant you try, keep taking it for at least two months. If it doesn't work than ask your doctor for a different one.

          --
          Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
      • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Monday August 13 2018, @05:53PM

        by HiThere (866) on Monday August 13 2018, @05:53PM (#721067) Journal

        I don't think the raw numbers tell the real story, though, as I suspect a much larger percentage of the current Apple employees have jobs other than programmer/analyst than was true in 1970. And they seem to have beefed up their legal staff.

        --
        Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
    • (Score: 3, Funny) by takyon on Monday August 13 2018, @05:55PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday August 13 2018, @05:55PM (#721068) Journal

      Ended in the gutter, now we're dead
      Ended in the gutter, now my whole team fuckin' dead
      Ended in the gutter, now we're dead
      Ended in the gutter, now the whole team dead, ligma
      Ended in the gutter, now we're dead
      Ended in the gutter, now my whole team here, ligma
      Ended in the gutter, now we're dead
      Ended in the gutter, now the whole team fuckin' dead

      I done kept it real from the jump
      Livin' in momma's basement, we'd argue every month
      Coding, I was tryna get it on my own
      Workin' all night, net traffic was my home
      And callin' employers, like, "Where you at?
      I gave you my CV, you said you'd call back”
      Nerdy, I just think it's funny how it goes
      Now I'm by the road, in the gutter while it snows, and we—

      DEAD
      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @07:22PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @07:22PM (#721110)

      Nice attempt to thin out the competition. Good effort. :D

      I will admit that after spending 30 years in IT work, if I had to go back and start college over again today, I sure wouldn't pick computer science. When I got my degree in the late eighties, the internet hadn't spread to the point where it was easy to send most of the coding work anywhere 'round the globe. If I'd known I'd be competing against everyone everywhere, I don't think I'd have done it. I'm good, but I'm not crazy good. I should have been an electrician. Oh well, water under the bridge.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @12:21PM (8 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @12:21PM (#720924)

    Fuck off, assholes. I don't have control over my work, because I do not own the means of production.

    I'll put up some resistance to your crazier schemes and ideas. But at the end of the day I need to eat and I need a warm bed to sleep in.

    If any of us want to change this, and I see the strong commitment to ethics among everybody here and in my field, like even our craziest ACs wouldn't do the shit that an MBA CxO gaslighting asshole does before breakfast. If any of us ever want to get serious about our ethics, programmers must organize. Only by organizing can we stand against those who would use the awesome power of computer technology for evil.

    If doctors hadn't organized, MBA CxO gaslighting assholes would warped the medical profession into the image of Josef Mengele. (Godwinned! But not for no reason I hope.)

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Monday August 13 2018, @12:26PM (1 child)

      by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Monday August 13 2018, @12:26PM (#720927) Homepage Journal

      Andrew Joseph "Joe" Stack III burned his own house to the ground, thereby rendering his wife and children homeless, then crashed his fully-fueled airplane into the Austin Texas IRS building, taking the life of Vernon Hunter, a man with seven children, because Stack was frustrated with his inability to organize programmers to repeal the law being IRS Section 1706.

      That I had written an essay about 1706 on my website resulted in my own fifteen minutes of fame [youtu.be].

      Did Joe's murder-suicide result in any organized programmers?

      It would be far more effective to herd housecats than to convince any reasonably large collection of coders to agree on _anything_ at all.

      --
      Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
      • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @08:44PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @08:44PM (#721126)

        At least we can agree that Vim is superior to Emacs.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @01:26PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @01:26PM (#720953)

      It's only Godwinned if you consider Josef Mengele a Nazi.

      You'll find a few of those employers don't.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @01:35PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @01:35PM (#720957)

      The reason programmers aren't organized is that (speaking only for myself of course) we're mostly on the autistic spectrum to varying degrees, which makes it (and again speaking only for myself) extremely unnatural and uncomfortable for us to organize into anything resembling committee or cooperative-style groups.

      I give you as a corollary the World Chess Federation, which since 1978 has been run basically as a fiefdom by a succession of dodgy Third World politicians, while the chess players themselves spend their time bickering about inconsequential matters.

    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday August 13 2018, @02:01PM (1 child)

      by VLM (445) on Monday August 13 2018, @02:01PM (#720974)

      If doctors hadn't organized, MBA CxO gaslighting assholes would warped the medical profession into the image of Josef Mengele.

      Implying..

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @02:45PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @02:45PM (#720992)

        Well, I admit, I should have realized that VLM would read my comment and be unable to understand why some of the German doctor's work should give one pause and how to apply the analogy to information technology.

        But Ethics for Soylentils is Aristarchus' bailiwick. Best check with him.

        Disclaimer: let us focus on Mengele's work in the context of the analogy. We will get sidetracked if we worry about the ethnic identity, sexual orientation, disability status, or various intersections thereof in his "patients," moreso if we begin pontificating about Trotskyism vs. nationalist socialism vs. Stalinism vs. libertarian socialism vs. anarcho-capitalist derivations of socialism (anarcho-socialism?) etc.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday August 13 2018, @05:29PM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday August 13 2018, @05:29PM (#721057) Journal

      There is a glut of programmers, and the job is only made easier by higher-level languages, libraries, StackOverflow and clones, as well as machines capable of writing code. There will be only token resistance to "unethical" acts, like a dozen employees leaving from Google. Others will gladly code strong AI capable of dominating humanity. Even worse, most programmers are incels or ᄃЦᄃK(old)Ƨ. The only organizing programmers will be capable of is deciding who gets to lick clean which section of the gutter they are sent to die in (the good death).

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 4, Informative) by fyngyrz on Monday August 13 2018, @06:07PM

        by fyngyrz (6567) on Monday August 13 2018, @06:07PM (#721073) Journal

        There is a glut of programmers script-kiddies

        FTFY

        There's quite a shortage of programmers doing actual work they are qualified for. It shows up in the consistently low quality of the recent crops of applications landing on our desktops and phone and tablets and such.

        By the time businesses are done triaging their applicants by sex, educational tickmarks, family status, credit records, legal records, age, n+1 years of familiarity with a n-year old framework, # of ricebowls per keyboard-hour... you end up with a low-priced 20-something who knows little and cares less, or someone working remotely in Cheapnation for their bowl of curry / rice / etc.

        I am so glad I am out of the job market. :/

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Monday August 13 2018, @12:22PM (6 children)

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Monday August 13 2018, @12:22PM (#720926) Homepage Journal

    The week that Roger Boisjoly died I was widely criticized for asserting that he failed in his duty to prevent the first Space Shuttle explosion.

    What he actually did was to file a safety report with Morton Thiokol's management, who then failed to pass that report on to NASA. Surely Boisjoly did the right thing?

    No.

    He could have gotten the launch scrubbed if he had been quite a lot louder about the fact that the solid booster's O-Rings lost their resiliency when cold.

    He didn't do so.

    --
    Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by bzipitidoo on Monday August 13 2018, @01:37PM (1 child)

      by bzipitidoo (4388) on Monday August 13 2018, @01:37PM (#720959) Journal

      Personal responsibility often gets carried too far. I wouldn't be too hard on Boisjoly. The training that engineers receive on such matters is laughably inadequate. No engineering school nor student wants to waste time on non-technical matters. It's the culture. This contributes to the stereotype of the engineering nerd who is indifferent and clueless about social norms, acceptable behavior, and all the soft skills that go with interacting with other people.

      Thanks in part to that engineering culture of viewing all non-technical matters as unworthy of notice, let alone study, it would have been exceptional for any engineer in Boisjoly's position to discern that management had buried the report. And then, to further decide to go over their heads and talk directly to NASA, and to have gotten NASA to listen, well, very, very rare.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14 2018, @07:52PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14 2018, @07:52PM (#721502)

        Seems to me that the real problem is that the company leadership consisted of non-technical management types who decided to bury the report. Put a real engineer at the head and that might not have happened.

        Unless he felt pressured due to company finances and decided to take the risk to save his company or paycheck.. Which means that the real problem was the presence of money as a variable in an equation where it did not belong.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by RS3 on Monday August 13 2018, @01:59PM (1 child)

      by RS3 (6367) on Monday August 13 2018, @01:59PM (#720972)

      Thank you, MDC. I understand where you're coming from. As often, I see both sides and I'm torn. I've never been involved with anything big like a shuttle, so I can't really say what I would have done. From what I know of the Challenger Disaster, they had previously launched in very cold conditions, saw booster case joint erosion due to "O"-rings not seating during pressurization, and survived it. It's not all ones and zeros, so I can't blame the engineer for not calling in everyone possible. But I do respect your view and you probably know much more than I do.

      My experience has been years and years of trying to get various managements to hear and act on my concerns regarding product (hw & sw) problems. I'm weary. The more I've tried, the harder management pushes back, and at some point people get labeled "trouble makers" and "complainer" and "problem child". I'm not aware of ever being labeled as such, but I've heard such labeling of people who I thought were pretty smart and trying to do a good job. I don't know your life's history, but it's possible you've done mostly contract / consulting and not been embroiled in "corporate culture" to know how things are for too many of engineers / programmers. People I've worked with talked about CYA, meaning, document the problem, document who you told about it, move on. Management is usually composed of people who enjoy power and control, whether they were predisposed or grew into it. They have the power to fire you on the spot for seemingly whim. There's no court system- you're out and your life might be very very crushed very fast. You scramble to find another job, or, you try to fight as you lose lots of $. I've never been fired, but I've surely felt great fear having witnessed some very mean bosses. Yes, I am now, as I have many times before, blaming most product defects on management.

      I draw strong parallels between Titanic Disaster, Challenger Disaster, and others where short-term profit is the highest priority. Over the years governments have established agencies such as OSHA, EPA, CPSC, etc., to try to push back against the skewed prioritization, but sadly many such as NASA, police, etc., are mostly self-policing.

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14 2018, @08:23PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14 2018, @08:23PM (#721516)

        It's a systemic issue inherent in the current economic system. The goal to obtain wealth supposedly incentives hard work and ingenuity and efficiency to create value. But in reality it also incentivizes bad behaviour and the creation of negative value:

        • Cost reductions to the extent of dangerous cutting corners
        • Excessive risk taking
        • Externalizing costs. Eg. Various forms of risk. Most forms of pollution
        • Hoarding
        • Advertising. (positive value for the business but negative for others. Overall net negative value)
        • Deception. Fraud.
        • Hiding information. Trade secrets. Patents. Copyright.
        • Crime
        • Bribes, and other bad influences of wealthy groups on politics

        That's just a few in no particular order, and I'm sure missed some important ones. All of those agencies that are meant to push back against skewed prioritization are just patches treating symptoms. And of course like any badly designed software system, the patches never work right and keep piling up and up until nobody knows how things work anymore. To really solve these problems at the root, you need to cure the disease. You need to change the economic system to one that provides predominantly positive incentives. Unfortunately I don't see this happening in the near future.

    • (Score: 2) by fishybell on Monday August 13 2018, @02:53PM (1 child)

      by fishybell (3156) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 13 2018, @02:53PM (#720995)

      I was fired for a job for refusing to run a demo for a military customer because of safety issues.

      Just because you can yell louder, doesn't mean everyone has the personal fortitude to do so.

      The entire setup of safety bureaucracy at NASA is designed to start with a form, and end with a form. He was working within the constraints of the system.

      That said, you can't get shit done while working within the constraints of the system sometimes, and getting fired is sometimes the right, moral thing to do. I refused to do something because a couple of no name hicks in Utah were in danger; there's no excuse for anyone not to do the same.

      • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Tuesday August 14 2018, @05:18PM

        by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday August 14 2018, @05:18PM (#721430)

        I really hate to ask: did someone else run the demo?

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by MostCynical on Monday August 13 2018, @12:36PM (3 children)

    by MostCynical (2589) on Monday August 13 2018, @12:36PM (#720930) Journal

    Do employers have ethics?
    Do companies have ethics?
    Does an employee have ethics?
    Does a union have ethics?

    If the employee has ethics, will they refuse to work for a company or employer that doesn't have ethics?
    will they stand up for what is right, even if it costs them their job?

    A union or professional association won't help unless all the members are prepared to stand up and be counted.

    How does anyone with stong ethics have a job!

    --
    "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @12:53PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @12:53PM (#720939)

      > How does anyone with stong ethics have a job!

      Well, I think I have fairly strong ethics, and I have remorse for the times that I've violated my own standards. In the big picture, these are pretty small violations, no one was injured...

    • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Monday August 13 2018, @01:25PM

      by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Monday August 13 2018, @01:25PM (#720950) Homepage Journal

      that's why I'm self-employed.

      And in fact I have resigned in ethical protest several times, from W-2 positions.

      --
      Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Monday August 13 2018, @04:08PM

      by Thexalon (636) on Monday August 13 2018, @04:08PM (#721022)

      If the employee has ethics, will they refuse to work for a company or employer that doesn't have ethics?

      It's not so much that the company or employer doesn't have ethics, it's that their ethics are often at odds with my ethics. Most companies are run by the following ethical principles:
      * Whoever is richest is the best and thus has earned the right to make all important decisions.
      * Caveat emptor.
      * mudsill theory [wikipedia.org], which is to say it is perfectly fine to inflict misery and destitution on the lower classes to enable the (supposed) great leaders of society to become fabulously rich and thus be better able to lead.
      * In case of crisis or disaster, the lives of the poor and middle classes are completely expendable.
      Those are a set of values. They're a set of values I don't agree with, at all, but they are a set of values. All monsters in history have had a set of values driving their actions, and the problem with Soviets and Nazis and such wasn't a lack of ethics but twisted and wrong ethics.

      How does anyone with stong ethics have a job!

      One interesting aspect of this question: How disconnected from the heinous act do you have to be in order to not be ethically culpable for it? To use an example, imagine for the sake of argument that you find drone missile strikes on civilian targets to always be unethical.
      * The person who is closest to this, by far, would be the airman who pulls the trigger to fire the missile.
      * But what about that person's commanding officers, up to and potentially including the civilian leadership such as the president of the US?
      * But what about the company that made the drone? Can you work for them?
      * But what about the companies that supply the company that made the drone? And the companies that supplied them? And the companies that supplied them? etc. How far away the supply chain do we need to go?
      * But what about anyone involved in the research that made the drones and missiles and such possible? And the institutions they're associated with?
      * How about working for organizations that were funded from the profits of being one of the companies in the supply chain? e.g. Is it OK to be working at an art museum if that art museum receives a bunch of funding from Lockheed Martin?

      There's no easy answer, but I can't see a way of both being employed and not drawing a line somewhere and saying "this is far enough away". For instance, if you were being super-expansive about this, drones use software, and software needs to be compiled, so anyone working on improving compilers is contributing to drone strikes. Of course, they probably didn't think of their work that way, at all, but you can see the problem.

      --
      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @01:23PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @01:23PM (#720948)

    What the guy said who called his employers gaslighting assholes. It isn't up to us. It's up to them.

    First, an employer changed direction and tried to move me from crypto projects onto defence projects. I refused.

    Later, an employer revealed his true direction and tried to move me from video projects onto porno projects. Again I refused.

    Happily, in both instances, I was skilled and experienced enough to be able to find another job. Not everyone has that option. Think about that next time you visit the massage parlour.

    • (Score: 2) by fyngyrz on Monday August 13 2018, @06:34PM (1 child)

      by fyngyrz (6567) on Monday August 13 2018, @06:34PM (#721083) Journal

      Happily, in both instances, I was skilled and experienced enough to be able to find another job. Not everyone has that option. Think about that next time you visit the massage parlour.

      Think about that the next time you have a plumber unclog your toilet. Are you going to never call a plumber because that job involves digging in the decaying bodily wastes of you and yours? Personally speaking, I'd much rather service someone's genitals / temporarily tame their libido than dig in their already-excreted-and-decaying bodily wastes. I certainly don't look down on anyone doing either job. They're just jobs.

      Think about that the next time you you visit any fast food chain restaurant. You think those employees are there because the job is ideal, and that the general run of employee wants to be there? Are you going to boycott all fast food chains because you assume the employees are doing things they'd really just as soon not do?

      No. Just, no. People do whatever jobs to earn the money they need. It's ridiculous to cut them down because you don't think the job is lily-white or "sexually moral" or whatever other self-involved nonsense you're holding up as a justification.

      People doing sex work (or even just massage work) are doing something they can do, for money they can use in the rest of their life. There's nothing actually wrong with it unless they are actively being prevented from developing other options. And that is a very rare thing indeed, current breathless hysteria about "sex trafficking" notwithstanding.

      The path to alternate employment, as always, begins with acquiring reading and communications skills if/as needed, studying the target job category, and then taking as many swings at it as required. Working in a massage parlor (or in a plumbing shop, etc.) is zero impediment to this. In fact, if the employee isn't happy doing whatever it is they are currently doing, in any job, it's an incentive.

      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @10:06PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @10:06PM (#721145)

        Weeeelllll, wasn't someone pissed at being spotted coming out of the massage parlour.

  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @01:29PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @01:29PM (#720955)

    ... simple; just wait for Brexit, and then export the whole lot to Britain.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by VLM on Monday August 13 2018, @01:56PM (1 child)

    by VLM (445) on Monday August 13 2018, @01:56PM (#720970)

    If someone is going to claim ownership and rights to a piece of code then protect it with electronic lock or obscurity, why aren't they also held 100% responsible if that code causes mayhem?

    There's no logic to any of that in USA legal system. That's the root of the problem. Its NOT a specifically programming or technology or engineering related issue.

    For example two adult humans get drunk, have sex, the male is guilty of rape because women are inferior and cannot consent to sex while drunk, unlike males who not only are legally assumed to consent but have no legal protection against rape if they're drunk. If two drunk lesbians have sex, who raped who? Ditto two drunk guys, which one was the victim and which the rapist?

    Or if women can't consent to sex while drunk, then all female DUI convictions should be nullified because surely they cannot consent to driving if they can't consent to sex while drunk.

    If you try to find logic and common sense in responsibility laws under the current regime, you won't find it, generally. So programmer / engineer / tech responsibility laws not making sense are a mere drop in the bucket of the laws in general not making any sense.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @10:08PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13 2018, @10:08PM (#721148)

      Er... without really knowing it, you just summed up most of what is currently wrong with the coding industry.

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