ds--- title: "Reflections: Seminar 1" date: 2020-09-16T16:04:46+10:00

categories: ["Reflections"] hiddenFromHomePage: false postMetaInFooter: false

flowchartDiagrams: enable: false options: ""

sequenceDiagrams: enable: false options: ""


Reference: Seminar 1

As part of the preparation material, we were suggested to read an excerpt from a text called Are "Software Engineers" Engineers? [commentary] - which sought to raise discussion about what it meant to be an 'engineer', and the credibility of engineering accreditation.

From the text, I took away the general consensus that the practise of engineering revolves around using maths / science to make some physical thing. Whilst software is non-physical by nature, it is often required for the enablement physical objects and so it is no less important than any other engineering discipline.

Another thing to consider is the looseness of the term 'engineer' (The English language is garrulous with synonyms). Doctoring a paper doesn't make you a doctor - Screwing in a light bulb doesn't make you an electrician. Software engineering doesn't mean you are an engineer.


During the actual seminar, we too began by assessing if engineering is a profession. Engineering is the application of using maths and science to solve problems in the real world; and it was concluded that any application of work and skill that involves monetary gain is a profession, which I personally agreed upon

We then compared the similarities and differences between a Code of Ethics and a Code of Conduct. Whilst both codes serve to make a positive impact, they differ in terms of the ways that they express these notions.

A Code of Ethics pertained more towards values and ways of thinking which aid you to arrive to an action. As they are not hard-and-fast rules, the implications of ethics (and free thought/will/speech) means that there is no 'correct' or 'incorrect' thought, which is why the concept of ethics is vague and up for debate. Rather, thoughts vary per individual as a result of their personal experiences, background and circumstances.

A Code of Conduct on the other hand is a specific set of rulings to dictate the "dos and don'ts" in an environment. They have tangible steps that are not up for discussion; and are often backed up with consequences should a rule be broken


We then had a look at a case study of the Ford Pinto, a cheap car built in an attempt to place Ford in the 'budget car' market. However car safety was traded for the appeal of cheap prices, which whilst not illegal for Ford to have designed their car in a certain way that trades cost for safety, it may have been seen as unethical - as people's lives were basically equated to money.


Finally we looked at several scenarios which may have incurred ethical implications - the first and fourth scenarios seeming the most interesting.

The first scenario described a 'counter-hack' where a virus would be created to undo the damage caused by a different virus. Whilst written with good intention - it would be considered unethical to gain unauthorised access to a stranger's computer without their knowledge nor consent. It is also questionable whether the counter hack is safe, as to not further damage someone's computer. The conclusion drawn from this scenario was to notify a reputable anti-virus / malware company; who has the credibility, reputability and (considered) wholistic methodology to deal with such an occurrence.

The fourth scenario detailed a hypothetical site-wide ban of torrenting websites as a response to the "high security risks". Whilst issues of censorship may arise, it had been addressed through a process of requesting approval to certain sites. Rather, the implications of imposing (and sending an email to all participants) can be pointed to transition timing, and awareness. As torrenting (in nature) is not actually illegal (it is a protocol for decentralised distributed data), great care must be put into the realisation of the ban, as to not impact any legitimate running services being used. Furthermore, for members who are unaware of what 'torrenting' is; care must be be taken in explaining it, as to not alarm or scare people.


I found the case study of the Ford Pinto car blunder very interesting - despite Ford being a large name in the automotive industry. It highlights the fact that ethics is not simply a list of directives, but a perplex concept that has no right or wrong answer.

Old Revision As part of the preparation material, we were suggested to read an excerpt from a text called _Are "Software Engineers" Engineers?_ [[commentary](../../seminars/reading-are-software-engineers-engineers)] - which sought to raise discussion about what it meant to be an 'engineer', and the credibility of engineering accreditation.

From the text, I took away the general consensus that the practise of engineering revolves around using maths / science to make some physical thing.
Software is non-physical by nature, but often it is required for the enablement of mechanical / physical objects and so software engineering is no less important than any other engineering discipline.

Another thing to consider is the looseness of an 'engineer' (Because, you know ... the English language is garrulous with synonyms). Doctoring a paper doesn't make you a doctor - Screwing in a light bulb doesn't make you an electrician. Software engineering doesn't mean you are an engineer.


During the actual seminar, we too began by assessing if engineering is a profession. Engineering is the application of using maths and science to solve problems in the real world; and it was concluded that any application of work and skill that involves monetary gain is a profession.

We then compared the similarities and differences between a Code of Ethics and a Code of Conduct. Whilst both codes serve to make a positive impact, they differ in terms of the ways that they express these notions.

A Code of Ethics pertained more towards values and ways of thinking which aid you to arrive to an action. As they are not hard-and-fast rules, the implications of ethics (and free thought/will/speech) means that there is no 'correct' or 'incorrect' thought, which is why the concept of ethics is vague and up for debate. Rather, thoughts vary per individual as a result of their personal experiences, background and circumstances.

A Code of Conduct on the other hand is a specific set of rulings to dictate the "dos and don'ts" in an environment. They have tangible steps that are not up for discussion; and are often backed up with consequences should a rule be broken


We then had a look at a case study of the Ford Pinto, a cheap car built in an attempt to place Ford in the 'budget car' market. However the cheap prices arose from the sacrifice of safety. In application to ethicalities and conduct - whilst it was not illegal for Ford to have designed their car in a certain way that trades cost for safety, it may have been seen as unethical - as people's lives were basically equated to money.


Finally we looked at several scenarios which may have incurred ethical implications - the first and fourth scenarios seeming the most interesting.

The first scenario described a 'counter-hack' where a virus would be created to undo the damage caused by a different virus. Whilst written with good intention - it would be considered unethical to gain unauthorised access to a stranger's computer without their knowledge nor consent. It is also questionable whether the counter hack is safe, as to not further damage someone's computer. The conclusion drawn from this scenario was to notify a reputable anti-virus / malware company; who has the credibility, reputability and (considered) wholistic methodology to deal with such an occurrence.

The fourth scenario detailed a hypothetical site-wide ban of torrenting websites as a response to the "high security risks". Whilst issues of censorship may arise, it had been addressed through a process of requesting approval to certain sites. Rather, the implications of imposing (and sending an email to all participants) can be pointed to transition timing, and awareness. As torrenting (in nature) is not actually illegal (it is a protocol for decentralised distributed data), great care must be put into the realisation of the ban, as to not impact any legitimate running services being used. Furthermore, for members who are unaware of what 'torrenting' is; care must be be taken in explaining it, as to not alarm or scare people.


Whilst I did not learn anything new, I found the case study of the Ford Pinto car blunder very interesting - despite Ford being a large name in the automotive industry. It highlights the fact that ethics is not simply a list of directives, but a perplex concept that has no right or wrong answer.