Essay on Professional Responsibility in Computer Science

1348 Words May 25th, 2006 6 Pages
In Donald Gotterbarn's article, "Informatics and Professional Responsibility," he argues that "although informatics has been undergoing a rapid development, there has been no corresponding development in the concept of responsibility as it applies to computing practitioners" (107). Gotterbarn believes that computer professionals should be perfect and are responsible for any effects caused by their coding. I disagree with Gotterbarn on this matter. In this essay, I will show that Gotterbarn's thoughts and beliefs on professional responsibility in computer ethics are unreasonable and therefore should not be applied.
Gotterbarn begins his article with examples of problems that resulted from software developers. In 1991, there was a major
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After it was complete the accounting system has passed all the necessary tests, but the user interface was so complicated and the staff complained so much that they went back to the original accounting system. Now, Gotterbarn attempts to examine who is responsible in this situation. Gotterbarn says, "I believe that there are two primary reasons why computer practitioners side-step the assignment of responsibility, especially after a system failure or a computer disaster" (109). He says that the first reason is that "responsibility is not related to a computer practitioner because computing is understood by many computer practitioners to be an ethically neutral practice" (110), and that the second reason "is based on the belief that responsibility is best understood using a malpractice model which relates responsibility to legal blame and liability" (111).
Gotterbarn goes on to say that one reason computer practitioners do not blame themselves is because they are trained in that way. He says that computer practitioners are trained to solve problems just as you would solve crossword puzzles because like crossword puzzles, "there is no responsibility beyond solving the puzzle" (110). He then provides an example of a program that was written for an X-ray device. The program was written to raise and lower the X-ray device above the table. The programmer completed the program and it

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