Ethics in Computing: When Right and Wrong Stop Being Obvious

Ethics in computing sounds like a fairly straight forward proposition at first glance. But when you begin to peel back the complicated layers at which technology and its implementation converge, its anything but simple. In this talk we’ll discuss some of the ethical and morale frameworks that we can apply to the computing industry. As we do that we’ll discuss and ask ourselves the questions

  • Exactly what is ethical or morale when it comes to technology?
  • What is the engineer’s responsibility in ethical and morale dilemmas involving the technology that they create?
  • What recourse should an engineer have at her disposal to challenge ethical lapses in her organization?
  • Is the market sufficiently capable of deciding what is right and wrong with regards to technology?
  • What are the limits of ethical guidelines as the apply to safety and security in systems?

These questions could never be answered in a brief talk and even if they could, I don’t have all the answers. But the goal is to promote conversation and critical thinking on the future of our industry and how we can continue to be proud of the work we create, in a time where technology moves to deeper into our lives. I would love for this talk to also lead into an Open Space discussion around themes brought up in the talk.



Jeff Smith


Jeff Smith has been in the technology industry for over 15 years, oscillating between management and individual contributor. Jeff currently serves as the Director of Production Operations for Centro,