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ETHICAL SOFTWARE PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, SCIENCE &TECHNOLOGY: A Balancing Act


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ETHICAL SOFTWARE PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, SCIENCE &TECHNOLOGY: A Balancing Act


Ethics is discipline dealing with what is good & what is bad,& also with moral duty &obligation. And science as we understand is the pursuit of an insight into the working of nature through reason, observation& experience. Software's Play an increasingly important role in the language of communications through the machine and then with the user in a totally unique manner. More importantly they made our lives easier in order that they straighten up the nature of day today problems in a simple and user friendly way.


 

One is thus forced to question, the area of convergence between these seemingly disparate disciplines. Ethics impinges on every human activity while science is undeniably human. software's on the other hand forms a part of scientific discipline.


Science in its practice & application demands adherence to ethical principles, which are cross culturally valid secular values of integrity, equity& distributive justice, among others. Thus we must first consider the kinds of ethical violations & the reasons thereof in the various aspects of scientific research.Subsequently we should also consider what can be done to mitigate,reduce & eliminate them.Scientific research in any discipline has the following aspects –choice of the area of research ,funding of research ,research methodology& distribution of the products of research. Software's also serve an important role in day today life of human beings ranging from simple calculations to resolving complex numerical computations.

                                                

It is extremely unfortunate that more funds in most of the countries are being spent on weapons research than on funding solutions to basic human problems. Although the associated science has some positive spin offs, such research has emerged as a tool of domination whether it is atomic, space, biological& chemical sciences or information technology.

 

Next we can take the case of drug research.One finds that drug companies spend billions of dollars on developing drugs such as Viagra & Prozac which cater to miniscule in the rich countries while ignoring diseases like drug resistant TB & Malaria which affect the multitudes in the third world.

                                                                          

Again, consider the frontier area of research in cloning.No doubt, there are some positive applications such as renewed hope for childless couples & development of a ready source of replaceable organs.But on the downside we find the risk of domination by biologically & intellectually superior elite starting us in face.

 

On the funding of research ,one finds that in recent times there has been a change in the pattern of funding,which has affected value orientation of research itself. Earlier ,the primary source of funding in most countries was the state ,with a clear commitment to the welfare of the people.In recent times this has given way to an increasing linkage between the research institutions /universities & corporate on the one hand & the research undertaken by the corporates. In a market driven by global economy corporates are essentially concerned with maximizing shareholders wealth ignoring the general public good. This aspect has also influenced the choice of the area of research, as only the more lucrative fields are sought to be explored.

 

Moreover, research in areas which might hurt the entrenched monopolies is not encouraged. The most outstanding example, in this regard, is the slow pace of development of alternatives to fossil fuels.There is no doubt that were it not for the clout of the big oil companies research on renewable energy resources the world have progressed much faster. Another trend that has emerged in recent times is resorting to professional ‘lobbiers’ for funds especially in the United States.This does not augur well both for the purpose &conduct of research & the use of its products .

 

It is in the distribution & use of the products of research that one finds the greatest violation of ethical norms.There are today the haves & the have-nots not only in terms of physical assets but also in access & use of technology. This has been sought to be institutionalized by resorting to clever trade agreements like the TRIPS, which seek to create & retain monopolies for the developers of technologies. Whether it be the issue of terminator seeds, transgenic crops, genetically modified food , multi drug therapy for AIDS or the possibility of use of private information by employers or insurance companies ,one finds the likelihood of subversion of the ethical norms related to scientific practice.

 

Although there exists a widely accepted research methodology, one often comes across

Instances of violation of related ethical norms. These infractions are of two kinds. Firstly they could be inadvertent & secondly, they could imply deliberate fraud. The first arises because of incorrect application of scientific method both in terms of the procedures involved in research & the presentation of its results. Deliberate fraud includes plagiarization of ideas, culling & trimming of data.

 

An analysis of the reasons for scientific misconduct reveals that the scientists like other human beings have been unable to rise above the desire for fame & money or have given in to pressures of political ideologies & now increasingly those of corporates. The

Above discussion can be summed up in the following ways:

 

Science is a double –edged sword. This is best exemplified by the constructive & destructive development & use of atomic energy.

 

The scientists themselves are motivated by monetary incentives than any real pursuit of knowledge or contribution to the society.

 

A programmer, computer user, developer, coder, or coder could be a one who writes pc package. The term computer user will sit down with a specialist in one space of creating by mental acts or to a student WHO writes code for several varieties of package. One WHO practices or professes a proper approach to programming may additionally be called a computer user analyst. A programmer's primary machine language (Assembly, COBOL, C, C++, C#, Java, Lisp, Python, etc.) is usually prefixed to those titles, and people WHO add an internet surroundings usually prefix their titles with internet.

 

The term computer user are often wont to sit down with a package developer, internet developer, mobile applications developer, embedded computer code developer, coder, man of science, or Software Product Development analyst. However, members of those professions possess alternative package engineering skills, on the far side programming; for this reason, the term computer user, or code monkey, is typically thought of Associate in nursing insulting or disparaging oversimplification of those alternative professions.

                                                      

No one doubts that science & technology represent possibly the only means of achieving all round growth & development. Yet, never before have had scientific developments attracted so much controversy. There is an urgent need to restore ethics in science.Here we should recall the norms suggested by RK Menon, which must be exemplified & incorporated by scientists. These norms are:

 

1.    Universal ism requires that science be independent of race, colour or creed & that it be international.

2.    Communal-ism requires that scientific Knowledge be in public knowledge &that there should be freedom of exchange.

3.    Disinterestedness requires that results of scientific research should not be used for personal profit, or political ideology.

4.    Organised skepticism requires that the acceptance of validity of any statement be contingent upon comparison with observed facts & should be open to question.

 

In a market driven globalized world there is an urgent need for efficient regulation. The state may withdraw from funding research activities, but it must regulate the activities of the privately funded research institutions through innovative programmers. Developing countries should get together & work cohesively to force the developed countries to transfer technology on their terms.

 

Scientific misconduct needs to be checked through efficacious peer review & not rigid state control. There is a need to incorporate within the science curricula, an exposure to humanities so that even scientists can appreciate the links between technological development & social change. It is certain that the suggestions above might not fully address the issues related to ethics , Software Product Development & science .But there is a need to move ahead. To move from reason, Observation & Experience as the Holy Trinity of science to reason, Observation, Experience & ethics as the holy pyramid of science ,with Ethics at the Apex.


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