Lectures  |    |  June 17, 2020

Leveraging the ACM Code of Ethics Against Ethical Snake Oil and Dodgy Development

Presentation by Don Gotterbarn and Marty Wolf. Produced by Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Runtime 61 minutes.

The ACM revised, and with overwhelming support from its members, approved its updated Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.

The most insidious ethical challenges are those where there is unrecognized intentional harm. We identify some of the elements that contribute to unnoticed ethical challenges such as subtle privacy violations in Covid-19 tracking systems. We then suggest concrete strategies and specific proactive interventions that can be used by management, human resources, and developers to identify unnoticed ethical challenges and, importantly, address other serious challenges. These strategies change the software development process so that the odds of needing an ethical champion are lessened and, in the rare event that one is needed, odds are good that there are quite a few computing professionals around who know how to help.


Don Gotterbarn Professor Emeritus, East Tennessee State University, has extensive experience both in academia and software systems developer, working on systems for the U.S. Navy, the Saudi Arabian Navy, vote-counting machines, and missile defence. He led the 2018 update of the ACM Code of Ethics and the development of the IEEE/ACM Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice.

Marty J. Wolf is a Professor of Computer Science at Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota USA. He has over thirty years of experience teaching undergraduate computer science and has published research in theoretical computer science, bioinformatics, and graph theory. He has developed and taught a stand-alone computing ethics course. He is currently co-chair of the ACM Committee on Professional Ethics and was part of the team that led the recent update to the ACM Code of Ethics

Moderator: Keith W. Miller is the Orthwein Endowed Professor for Life Long Learning in the Sciences at the College of Education of the University of Missouri – Saint Louis (UMSL). Prof. Miller also holds tenure in its Dept. of Computer Science. He has a Ph.D. in Computer Science, an M.S. in Mathematics, and a B.S. in Education.