News  |    |  November 8, 2019

Engineers need a required course in ethics

News article by Kush Saxena.
Published in Quartz.


This summer, the FaceApp debate exploded on social media, as people questioned the motives of the Russian engineers behind the technology that scanned millions of people’s faces, with no indication of what happened to the data given to the app.

Privacy is presumably top of mind for the general public, but people’s urge to literally see the face of their own future selves seemed to outweigh that threat. FaceApp may serve no benefit beyond entertainment. But today, every company effectively becomes a tech company by leveraging advanced data analytics to fuel their business.

Biometric surveillance, gender-biased voice technology, shadowy entities accessing your data with a single app download. With nearly every service, gadget, and add-on, we are constantly being asked to put our trust—in the form of our personal data—in brands, big and small. We upload photos of our kids on social media, monitor our homes with connected cameras, and ask smart speakers to turn on our favorite podcast as we get ready for work.

But we’re not just putting our trust in faceless companies. We’re actually handing our personal data to the individual engineers who work there. These are real people who make crucial decisions that significantly impact our lives and society at large. [ . . . ]