What does it mean to design and develop with ethics? We'll look at how business pressures can lead to unethical product decisions.
MICHELLE: Reflect back on the Volkswagen emissions scandal. 0:00 Some unethical products are clearly created with bad intentions. 0:03 But it's not fair to categorically cast all those involved as evil. 0:07 In reality, most of us work in a gray zone and 0:12 cannot completely revamp products to be morally sound. 0:15 There's a power dynamic between the managers in charge and 0:18 the workers who complete the tasks. 0:22 We don't always have the authority to change a product decision, and 0:24 we can encounter organizational dynamics and 0:28 stubborn leadership who are resistant to change. 0:31 Further, you may be in a situation where you do not feel safe to critique 0:34 the status quo. 0:39 Unfortunately, advocating for change can risk retaliation and 0:41 you may not have the privilege to risk losing your job. 0:45 When we do have the agency to act with integrity, let's use it. 0:49 We'll talk more about advocacy later. 0:53 It's worth noting that unethical products can also be created with good intentions. 0:57 There's no evil actor at play. 1:02 It's just a constellation of seemingly 1:05 inconsequential decisions culminating into a poor outcome. 1:08 Perhaps an engineer gets excited about solving a technical challenge, 1:12 but then the impact is detrimental to society. 1:17 Let's look at a tangible example. 1:20 Here's a typical workflow. 1:22 Your boss gives you an assignment, and after you understand the requirements, 1:24 you make the thing. 1:29 But how often do you ask why or 1:30 consider the consequences of putting it out there in the world? 1:32 Let's look at what companies task us with. 1:37 How fast can you make this? 1:41 Perhaps you're asked to create a new feature at breakneck speeds, 1:43 leading you to trim off a testing plan, 1:47 which would have prevented a significant bug from affecting millions of people. 1:50 HOPE: Facebook's longtime motto was move fast and break things. 1:55 After realizing this caused more bugs and slowed the team down, 1:59 CEO Mark Zuckerberg switched it to move fast with stable infrastructure. 2:04 I'd argue that move thoughtfully with stable infrastructure would ensure 2:10 better experiences for everyone Facebook serves. 2:15 MICHELLE: How can we grab the most market share and beat the competitors at any cost? 2:22 Perhaps you've been tasked with a similar goal. 2:28 In 2017, it was discovered that Uber had created software called Greyball, 2:30 which helped the company evade government regulators and 2:36 cities where Uber was not yet approved. 2:39 It blocked regulators from getting rides, to mask the fact, 2:42 they were operating illegally. 2:45 How can we scale and increase profits? 2:47 Of course, companies must be financially viable so 2:51 they can afford to cover expenses. 2:54 But how much is enough? 2:56 And to what extent do executives' paychecks needs to be padded at 2:58 the expense of less fortunate people? 3:03 Now, we're not going to solve all these problems ourselves. 3:05 But it is helpful to consider these questions and 3:08 your responsibility to the people you're serving. 3:11 To work ethically, measure the impact you have on people's lives. 3:14 At this point, it may feel like doom and gloom. 3:20 But let's remember, we have tremendous power to make a positive impact. 3:23 We're the gatekeepers. 3:28 Let's work to ensure that what passes the gates is as ethically sound 3:30 as we can imagine. 3:35 Unlike doctors who have a Hippocratic Oath where they promised to do no harm, 3:36 folks building software are not bound by a licence or code of ethics. 3:41 Aside from some fraud and privacy laws, there aren't standards or 3:45 regulations for software ethics. 3:49 We can make our own though, and plenty of wonderful frameworks and 3:52 tools are available for free online. 3:56 Look for all that and more coming up later in the course. 3:58
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