ACM Code

Do computer scientists need a code of
ethics like the ACM code?
“Seek not the answers, but to understand the questions.”
Do computer scientists need a code of ethics like the ACM code?
Do computer scientists need a code of ethics like the ACM code?
Do computer scientists need a code of ethics like the ACM code?
Do computer scientists need a code of ethics like the ACM code?
Are computer professionals special?
Do Computer Professionals Have
Special Responsibilities?
Gotterbarn (1999) believes that because software
engineers and their teams are have significant
opportunities to:
(i) do good or cause harm
(ii) enable others to do good or cause harm
(iii) influence others to do good or cause harm.
Critical-Safety Software
Gotterbarn suggests that the roles and responsibilities
involved in the development of safety-critical systems is
a differentiating factor.
A "safety-critical system" = computer system that can
have a direct life-threatening impact.
aircraft and air traffic control systems
mass transportation systems
nuclear reactors missile systems
medical treatment systems.
design of bridges and buildings;
election of water disposal sites;
development of analytical models for medical treatment.
Professional Codes of Ethics
Many professions have established professional
societies, which have adopted codes of conduct.
AMA (American Medical Association)
ABA (American Bar Association).
Two computing professional societies
The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
The Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers –
Computer Society (IEEE-CS)
Do computer scientists need a code of ethics like the ACM code?
Purpose of codes of ethics?
Know the 4 primary functions
Gotterbarn in Tavani
Codes of…
Do computer scientists need a code of ethics like the ACM code?
What is the ACM code like?
As opposed to…?
Other codes of ethics? For example?
Other professional codes? For example?
ACM Code of Ethics and Conduct
1.1 Contribute to society and human well-being.
1.2 Avoid harm to others.
1.3 Be honest and trustworthy.
1.4 Be fair and take action not to discriminate.
1.5 Honor property rights including copyrights and
1.6 Give proper credit for intellectual property.
1.7 Respect the privacy of others.
1.8 Honor confidentiality.
As an ACM computing professional I will ....
 2.1 Strive to achieve the highest quality, effectiveness and dignity
in both the process and products of professional work.
 2.2 Acquire and maintain professional competence.
 2.3 Know and respect existing laws pertaining to professional
 2.4 Accept and provide appropriate professional review.
 2.5 Give comprehensive and thorough evaluations of computer
systems and their impacts, including analysis of possible risks.
 2.6 Honor contracts, agreements, and assigned responsibilities.
 2.7 Improve public understanding of computing and its
 2.8 Access computing and communication resources only when
authorized to do so.
As an ACM member and an organizational leader, I will ....
3.1 Articulate social responsibilities of members of an
organizational unit and encourage full acceptance of those
3.2 Manage personnel and resources to design and build
information systems that enhance the quality of working life.
3.3 Acknowledge and support proper and authorized uses of an
organization's computing and communication resources.
3.4 Ensure that users and those who will be affected by a
system have their needs clearly articulated during the
assessment and design of requirements; later the system must
be validated to meet requirements.
3.5 Articulate and support policies that protect the dignity of
users and others affected by a computing system.
3.6 Create opportunities for members of the organization to
learn the principles and limitations of computer systems.
BACKGROUND NOTE: This section draws extensively from the
draft of IFIP (International Federation for Information Processing)
Code of Ethics, especially its sections on organizational ethics
and international concerns. The ethical obligations of
organizations tend to be neglected in most codes of professional
conduct, perhaps because these codes are written from the
perspective of the individual member. This dilemma is
addressed by stating these imperatives from the perspective
of the organizational leader. In this context "leader" is viewed
as any organizational member who has leadership or educational
responsibilities. These imperatives generally may apply to
organizations as well as their leaders. In this context
"organizations" are corporations, government agencies, and
other "employers," as well as volunteer professional
organizations. (emphasis added)
 Progress towards a World-Wide Code of Conduct
by John A. N. Lee and Jacques Berleur
As an ACM member I will ....
4.1 Uphold and promote the principles of
this Code.
4.2 Treat violations of this code as
inconsistent with membership in the ACM.
IEEE Code of Ethics
1. to accept responsibility in making engineering decisions
consistent with the safety, health and welfare of the
public, and to disclose promptly factors that might
endanger the public or the environment;
2. to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest whenever
possible, and to disclose them to affected parties when
they do exist;
3. to be honest and realistic in stating claims or estimates
based on available data;
4. to reject bribery in all its forms;
5. to improve the understanding of technology, its
appropriate application, and potential consequences;
IEEE Code of Ethics (continued)
6. to maintain and improve our technical competence and to
undertake technological tasks for others only if qualified by
training or experience, or after full disclosure of pertinent
7. to seek, accept, and offer honest criticism of technical work,
to acknowledge and correct errors, and to credit properly the
contributions of others;
8. to treat fairly all persons regardless of such factors as race,
religion, gender, disability, age, or national origin;
9. to avoid injuring others, their property, reputation, or
employment by false or malicious action;
10. to assist colleagues and co-workers in their professional
development and to support them in following this code of
KNOW !!!
4 Primary functions of codes of Ethics
Difference between codes Ethics, Practice, and
Name the 4 sections of the ACM Code
Be able to identify the section in which a
statement appears in the ACM Code
Whether a statement is from ACM or IEEE code
Criticisms of Codes of Ethics
Strengths and weaknesses of codes of ethics
Criticisms of Ethical Codes
Ladd (1995) argues that ethical codes rest on a series of
confusions that are both "intellectual and moral."
His argument has three main points.
First, ethics is basically an "open-ended,
reflective, and critical intellectual activity.“
Second, codes introduce confusions with respect
to micro-ethics vs. macro-ethics.
Third, giving codes a disciplinary function makes
them more like legal than ethical rules.
In Defense of Professional Codes
Gotterbarn argues that we need to distinguish between:
Codes of ethics - "aspirational," because they often
serve as mission statements for the profession and
thus can provide vision and objectives.
Codes of conduct - oriented more toward the
professional and the professional's attitude and
Codes of practice - relate to operational activities
within a profession.
Purpose of Professional Codes
Professional codes of ethics are often
designed to motivate members of an
association to behave in certain ways.
Four primary functions of codes are to:
discipline the members.
Table 4-1: Some Strengths and
Weaknesses of Professional Codes
Codes inspire the members of a profession to
behave ethically.
Directives included in many codes tend to be too
general and too vague.
Codes guide the members of a profession in ethical
Codes are not always helpful when two or more
directives conflict.
Codes educate the members of a profession about
their professional obligations.
A professional code’s directives are never complete
or exhaustive.
Codes discipline members when they violate one or
more of the code’s directives.
Codes are ineffective (have no “teeth”) in
disciplinary matters.
Codes “sensitize” members of a profession to ethical
issues and alert them to ethical aspects they
otherwise might overlook.
Codes do not help us distinguish between microethics issues and macro-ethics issues.
Codes inform the public about the nature and roles
of the profession.
Directives in codes are sometimes inconsistent with
one another.
Codes enhance the profession in the eyes of the
Codes can be self-serving for the profession.

similar documents