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Discussion on: Code is Political

galoisgirl profile image

Interesting argument about the title. Let me know when you've read the article.

graemeq profile image
Graeme Q • Edited

I have read the article and it touches on some interesting topics but I still struggle with how this relates to code is bias. I'm wondering what you're reading into it.

I'm reading more into it as being 'be careful which companies you use as their moral compass might be iffy'. This applies to both being a developer and being a consumer.

In the software examples (not all examples are software related), every example is 'Company/Government A is funding software creation and using it for dubious purposes'. So the issue is more the companies and how they are using the toolsets available. It's no different to using advertising as a toolset, or written literature.

The manufacturing issues like suicides and child labor are not new issues. They've been around since the 1790's when the industrial revolution kicked off. If anything, employees are far more protected now than they ever have been but obviously there's room for improvement.

The article doesn't touch grey areas, or less obvious I should say.
Take a bank for example. lots of people use online banking. Banks make investments with your money and not all of them are for good. Who funds the mines out of DRC?
When you buy a mobile phone (or any other device thats rechargable) where do you think the cobalt comes from?

Nor does the article mention where software is used for good.

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galoisgirl profile image

I think you're reading that as a judgement on the code itself, like there's morally good and bad code. However, the very same code can be used for both bad and good purposes, like the banking you're mentioned. It's more in the use and the context than in the algorithms themselves.

I'm reading this as while code seems purely technical, don't think you'll avoid ethical dilemmas. You won't jest be solving algorithmic puzzles in the void. Your code can do tremendous amounts of good ( AI that diagnoses cancer better than the best human doctors, most productivity growth...), but it can do harm to. Chose wisely.