Articles  |    |  March 1, 2014

Why software engineering courses should include ethics coverage

Article by Arvind Narayanan and Shannon Vallor.
Published in Communications of the ACM.


Software developers create the architectures that govern our online and increasingly our offline lives—from software-controlled cars and medical systems to digital content consumption and behavioral advertising. In fact, software helps shape, not just reflect, our societal values. Are the creators of code aware of this power and the responsibilities that go with it? How, and to what extent, are they trained in the ethics of their discipline?

Like medical, legal, and business ethics, engineering ethics is a well-developed area of professional ethics. In 2000, the organization that accredits university programs and degrees in engineering (ABET) began to formally require the study of engineering ethics in all accredited programs.