Canadian Forest Service Publications

Ethics in computer software design and development. 2001. Thomson, A.J.; Schmoldt, D.L. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 30: 85-102.

Year: 2001

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 18042

Language: English

CFS Availability: Order paper copy (free)

Mark record


Over the past 20 years, computer software has become integral and commonplace for operational and management tasks throughout agricultural and natural resource disciplines. During this software infusion, however, little thought has been afforded human impacts, both good and bad. This paper examines current ethical issues of software system design and development in relation to privacy, accuracy, property, accessibility, and effects on quality of life. These issues are explored in the context of simulation models, databases, geographic information systems and artificial intelligence programs, especially expert systems. New approaches to system development place a much higher emphasis on the effects of system deployment within a complex human environment. Software design decisions often depend on more than one ethical issue, possibly conflicting, where the appropriate ethical choice is not always clear cut. Professional codes of ethics do little to change peoples’ behavior; rather, incentives for using an ethical approach to software development may lie in significantly increased likelihood of system success. Crown copyright „ 2001 Published by Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.