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Last post Author Topic: Ethics in Technology  (Read 8215 times)

Shades

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #25 on: September 30, 2015, 08:26:35 PM »
From what I've heard on the radio here, this was broadly speaking about smaller cars being both affordable, and able to pass the tests, because smaller diesel cars are not so efficient nor as clean as bigger ones

There is also noise pollution.  These diesel autos generally have very poor acceleration from a standing start, such as a stop light.  To counteract that the automatic transmission is set to wind out in first gear to get the heap moving.  Listening to that ruins my day.


Never understood why the US hates diesel that much. When you need torque on a combustible engine, there isn't much that beats diesel. And even in the 90's-2000's the diesel cars I have driven (in the Netherlands) were certainly no slouch. Even with accelerating from the red traffic lights. And it didn't matter which brand, the Opels (which operates under the Chevrolet name in the US), Peugots, Renault, Fiat, Mercedes, Toyota and Nissan cars I either owned or drove on a daily basis...all of them performed as good or better than a gasoline car.

Diesel is also a lot cheaper per liter at the gas station (no gallons!) compared with gasoline, lasts a lot longer consumption-wise and maintenance-wise diesel engines need yearly intervals, while gasoline engines require maintenance every 6 months or so. If you are a gearhead, you might have fun doing (most of) the maintenance yourself. But if you are not, the recurring maintenance bills are a burden.

Also, in the Netherlands, as soon as you travel more than 15 kilometers a day by car, it is/was economically stupid to drive a gasoline car, because of monthly ownership taxes and road taxes in combination with fuel prices (also taxed differently than gasoline).

Then again, European car brands makes very good diesel engines ('price/performance'-factor), Japanese diesel engines aren't bad either and stick-shift remains the popular choice in the EU. Besides, nowadays there is so much padding applied in cars to "hide" any engine noise in and out the car.

If I ever buy a car (with an Internal Combustion Engine) again, it must be a diesel. But what I really want is electric cars to come down in price, mainly because I have had it with the financial burdens caused by ICE problems, their maintenance requirements etc. Getting rid of the noise and the fumes ICE produce is a most welcome bonus for me as well.

MilesAhead

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #26 on: October 01, 2015, 08:38:47 AM »
@Shades there is likely a lot of sound insulation in the cockpit.  My father had a Ford he thought was so quiet.  But standing outside I could hear it had a really noisy A/C compressor.  But there was so much sound dampening material he couldn't hear it unless he had the window down.  Not likely to do that often when running the A/C.  :)

Yes, a diesel accelerates.  But it does it by winding out first gear.  It is generally really loud when you are standing outside the car even though the driver doesn't notice.  Many gasoline powered 4 cylinder cars have the same issue.  They want to push the MPG so they put a 4 cyl in a car heavy enough for a 6.  Again, the automatic transmission winds out first gear to keep it from dogging off the line.

I would rather sacrifice a couple of MPG and get the pickup of a 6 cylinder in a 2 seater.  But the other thing is they like the throw in a transverse mounted 4 cylinder to get the front wheel drive on the cheap.



Tuxman

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #27 on: October 01, 2015, 10:14:28 AM »
I love how the world discusses Volkswagen's "ethics" while ignoring that everyone cheated before ...  :D

MilesAhead

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #28 on: October 01, 2015, 11:15:20 AM »
I love how the world discusses Volkswagen's "ethics" while ignoring that everyone cheated before ...  :D

Heh heh.  They could drop a Chevy Impala out of a helicopter and I bet it would get great MPG on the way down.   :)


wraith808

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #29 on: October 01, 2015, 11:49:51 AM »
I love how the world discusses Volkswagen's "ethics" while ignoring that everyone cheated before ...  :D

This thread isn't about this specific instance.  It's about ethics in general, and the individual developer's part in it.  But sure... let's skew it to say that we were lambasting them instead of getting an understanding of the basis of the conversation.

Renegade

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #30 on: October 02, 2015, 01:18:21 PM »
You presume everything would work out fine -- do I presume that everything needs to be regulated? Maybe. Tbh, I suspect neither one of us is correct in our assumptions, but we may never know...

We can guess, but that's all. As it stands, it appears that the information we are given is dubious at best. Tuxman's link shows that pretty well.

To put a bit of teeth behind what I'd said before:

http://ericpetersaut.../crucified-by-uncle/

But better here:

http://ericpetersaut...ust-vws-problem-now/

And specifically this:

Quote
While EPA is turning the screws on the car industry to achieve fractional reductions in the tailpipe emissions of cars that have been 95 percent or more “clean” since the mid-1990s, no one seems interested in an easy – and cheap – way to cut emissions not by fractions of a percent but by actual whole percentages.

And then some.

If the fuel efficiency of a given car is increased by say 30 percent, its total output of harmful emissions will decline dramatically – without any changes to its existing package of emissions controls. Burn less fuel, produce less exhaust. Simple.EPA pic

Sane.

If EPA were really interested in reducing emissions – rather than dishonest political grandstanding – it would lock horns with the DOT and NHTSA to ease off on the “safety” mandates that have added hundreds of pounds to curb weight of the average new car, and reduced fuel efficiency dramatically as a result.

The "emissions" regulations focus on the wrong things and try to get blood from a stone. Improving mileage is a simple, better way to reduce emissions, but that doesn't play well into the agenda.

So, given the insanity that VW is facing, I certainly can't blame them for skirting idiotic laws.

Bring this back around to developer/designer ethics in general, again I'd have to say that using the law as a metric for ethics/moral isn't going to end well. i.e. There is nothing inherently immoral or unethical about breaking a law.

That isn't to say that laws are incapable of lining up with moral/ethical principles, e.g. murder is wrong, but rather it is to say that there is no necessary connection between the two. In other words, whether or not a law is moral/ethical is merely accidental/coincidental.

I'm not too sure that I really have much more to add to that in this context.

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40hz

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #31 on: October 02, 2015, 02:29:14 PM »
So, given the insanity that VW is facing, I certainly can't blame them for skirting idiotic laws.

If you truly believe that, that's pretty sad Ren. Even coming from someone who likes to occasionally throw the proverbial "alligator over the transom" just to get people thinking and talking. (Which is something I can appreciate. ;) )

But ok. Even granting the benefit of the doubt to some of what you're saying, why did VW choose to do it the way they did?

If VW were so convinced of the insanity of existing EPA regs, why didn't they publicly challenge them, ideally in conjunction with the other major auto manufacturers, if the existing and planned future regulations were so obviously going in the wrong direction? It wouldn't take much to get public support behind them and force Congress's hand if it could be clearly demonstrated that the existing regs cause more harm - or significantly less benefit - than the government is claiming. Especially when it means it adds a significant increase to the price the average driver has to pay for a car.

If the so-called bad regulations could be shown for what they are, they'd get changed in fairly short order. Figure a year or two at most. Because the one place you can always hit an American, and be guaranteed to get their full attention, is their checkbook.

Sorry. Bad laws need to be confronted. Not sidestepped because someone claims that "better information" or a "higher reality" is guiding them. That's the same argument that's used to justify "teaching the controversy" in public schools. Or denying access to information abput legal medical alternatives to women who, out of necessity, attend publicly funded health clinics. Or deciding there's a "higher truth" that grants you an exemption from your sworn duty as a public official to uniformly issue marriage licenses.

If everyone gets to have their own private laws and interpretations, you're heading toward an eventual breakdown of any legal system that allows it to become commonplace. And that can only result in a far greater set of problems for our society than the problem of a bad regulation itself. Because that's claiming privilege - from the Latin privilegium meaning "law applying to one person, bill of law in favor of or against an individual." And that's hardly a way to run a society based on shared freedoms, rights, and legal protections - no matter how flawed the attempts taken to achieve those goals.

VW chose to take the easy and gutless way out. Whether or not they felt they were justified in doing so, that's still not the way to do things. And whatever entirely predictable problems they're now suffering through were brought on purely by their decision to evade rather than fix an allegedly broken law.

I have zero sympathy for VW at this point. What I do feel bad about is the possible adverse impact this may have on the overall German economy. Because VW is a major player. And a lot of innocent employees, along with the larger German public, will ultimately have pay the price for VW's transgressions once the government is forced to step in. And I'm sure the German government will eventually be forced to do so. (Just like our own government was forced to bail out crooked bankers here in order to avoid a major financial crisis that would have affected everyone.)
« Last Edit: October 02, 2015, 02:47:26 PM by 40hz »

superboyac

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #32 on: October 02, 2015, 04:31:43 PM »
miss you 40!  good to have you back.

JavaJones

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #33 on: October 02, 2015, 04:33:14 PM »
Well said 40hz! I was thinking along similar lines but couldn't quite articulate it. Just because some laws are bad and laws don't equal morality or ethics doesn't mean that we shouldn't *try to make laws more ethical and moral*, i.e. try to make them *good* laws.

- Oshyan

40hz

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #34 on: October 02, 2015, 06:51:43 PM »
miss you 40!  good to have you back.


Hey there SB!  :)

It's good to be back. This is easily the most civil and rationally intelligent community and forum on the web. :-* I certainly have missed those drawn out threads we've gotten into over the years. This place is the best!

Besides, I'd probably sink into early senility without Renny around to shoot those politico-philosophical spitballs of his that keep my brain on its toes.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2015, 07:09:22 PM by 40hz »

40hz

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #35 on: October 02, 2015, 07:03:41 PM »
Well said 40hz! I was thinking along similar lines but couldn't quite articulate it. Just because some laws are bad and laws don't equal morality or ethics doesn't mean that we shouldn't *try to make laws more ethical and moral*, i.e. try to make them *good* laws.

- Oshyan


Exactly. I'd rather take a stand and go down fighting the good fight rather than just take the bug-out option and become a full time evader or new style "revolutionary." (The real revolutionaries must be rolling in their graves every time the neo-revs call themselves by that name.) I'm still romantic (or possibly naive) enough to think intelligently and consistently standing up to the abuses of authority (and not abandoning the moral high ground in the process) will always be the most optimal strategy when it comes to fighting the long fight. And most things in human society that are genuinely worth fighting for tend to involve very long battles. At least if human history is anything to go by.

Besides, I've already paid a hefty enough price from time to time for doing just that. So I might as well finish out my round rather than quit the table this late in the game.

Like I said, I'm a romantic. And probably naive as well. But so be it. I'm good with that.  ;D
« Last Edit: October 02, 2015, 07:10:01 PM by 40hz »

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #36 on: October 02, 2015, 11:32:35 PM »
So, given the insanity that VW is facing, I certainly can't blame them for skirting idiotic laws.

If you truly believe that, that's pretty sad Ren. Even coming from someone who likes to occasionally throw the proverbial "alligator over the transom" just to get people thinking and talking. (Which is something I can appreciate. ;) )

...

If the so-called bad regulations could be shown for what they are, they'd get changed in fairly short order. Figure a year or two at most. Because the one place you can always hit an American, and be guaranteed to get their full attention, is their checkbook.

Sorry. Bad laws need to be confronted. Not sidestepped because someone claims that "better information" or a "higher reality" is guiding them. That's the same argument that's used to justify "teaching the controversy" in public schools. Or denying access to information abput legal medical alternatives to women who, out of necessity, attend publicly funded health clinics. Or deciding there's a "higher truth" that grants you an exemption from your sworn duty as a public official to uniformly issue marriage licenses.

If everyone gets to have their own private laws and interpretations, you're heading toward an eventual breakdown of any legal system that allows it to become commonplace. And that can only result in a far greater set of problems for our society than the problem of a bad regulation itself. Because that's claiming privilege - from the Latin privilegium meaning "law applying to one person, bill of law in favor of or against an individual." And that's hardly a way to run a society based on shared freedoms, rights, and legal protections - no matter how flawed the attempts taken to achieve those goals.

About "nothing immoral about skipping a law" is just dangerous. The "true situation" is that people should be moral to begin with, certain people are sleazy, so a good law gets there to add some teeth and haul them back in line. So breaking a good law ... should be a bad thing.

So then yes, then bad laws get in there. Then you wonder how to stay moral in the face of a bad law. That's where the chaos ensues. But it's also not enough to "show" a bad law - the web now is pretty good at doing that. You have to find *other* reasons that make the people who put in the bad law for their own uses, to find it now *worse* to have that law there.

So adding a new industry to this, I'm staring at a Fascinating new wrinkle going on at Cheerios via General Mills. They decided to go for the certification of Gluten Free, which they seem to be succeding at. So a fairly good law is some reg that says "to legally qualify for the cert you need less than 20 parts per million grains to be gluten containing." So maybe a fourth rate knock off cereal would just fudge it and then should get slammed for it. So it's a pretty good law. And Cheerios seems to be pulling it off unless a scandal comes to light later. So then yay them.



Renegade

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #37 on: October 04, 2015, 03:06:00 AM »
Hey @40hz! Good to see you back here! You've been sorely missed!

But that doesn't mean we will agree on everything. :D

(PS - I'm a couple bottle of merlot in, so don't expect too much. ;) )

If VW were so convinced of the insanity of existing EPA regs, why didn't they publicly challenge them, ideally in conjunction with the other major auto manufacturers, if the existing and planned future regulations were so obviously going in the wrong direction?

I think that you are massively over-estimating the ability of the industry to reason with government.

We are NOT talking about some kind of rational topic here. This is a purely religious topic. Climate and emmissions and the like are NOT topics for logical debate. They are religious topics. Reason need not apply, because it will be repelled.

How do you reason with religious extremists? You can't. And climate isn't a topic where you can have a reasonable discussion. The topic is toxic and there is no good will in the discussion.

For examples of other toxic discussions:

* Vaccines
* Climate
* Abortion
* Death penalty
* Economics

Those topics are purely toxic and you CANNOT have a rational discussion on them.

There are many more toxic topics, but those are just a few.

Trying to have those discussion inside of politics is simply worse. There is ZERO good will. The only position to take is that of actual evidence and reality, which has no bearing on politics.

Assuming that the laws are correct is silly.

But, I'm too drunk to flush out more of the nonsense here. I know that many people disagree with me, but hey... at least I provide you all with some kind of fun outlet to hammer on! :D

8)


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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #38 on: October 04, 2015, 06:45:37 PM »
Hey @40hz! Good to see you back here! You've been sorely missed!

But that doesn't mean we will agree on everything. :D

(PS - I'm a couple bottle of merlot in, so don't expect too much. ;) )

If VW were so convinced of the insanity of existing EPA regs, why didn't they publicly challenge them, ideally in conjunction with the other major auto manufacturers, if the existing and planned future regulations were so obviously going in the wrong direction?

I think that you are massively over-estimating the ability of the industry to reason with government.

We are NOT talking about some kind of rational topic here. This is a purely religious topic. Climate and emmissions and the like are NOT topics for logical debate. They are religious topics. Reason need not apply, because it will be repelled.

How do you reason with religious extremists? You can't. And climate isn't a topic where you can have a reasonable discussion. The topic is toxic and there is no good will in the discussion.

I have to just disagree slightly with the wording. They are not "religious" topics because religion at its best saves lives, and religion at its worst is a "different brand of extremism". Sure they're toxic topics, but not religious ones. You don't "believe in climate change after death" or such.

I'd rather call them in a secular manner in your choice of variants of economic styles, where people are just saying stuff with an agenda.



Renegade

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #39 on: October 05, 2015, 06:20:24 AM »
I have to just disagree slightly with the wording. They are not "religious" topics because religion at its best saves lives, and religion at its worst is a "different brand of extremism". Sure they're toxic topics, but not religious ones. You don't "believe in climate change after death" or such.

I'd rather call them in a secular manner in your choice of variants of economic styles, where people are just saying stuff with an agenda.

Sure, I suppose that's one way of looking at it. Maybe I'm simply using "religious" as a pejorative to mean "lacking solid reasoning/evidence". Either way, take it as metaphor or literal or simply as hyperbole.

But, back to VW on a sober note... ;)

VW's sin there is in selling a product that they have misrepresented. That misrepresentation though is under duress (threats of punishment under law). Had there been no law/regulation, I find it rather unlikely that they'd have done what they did. As it is, they lied to their customers, which is where I find the real problem, though their having done it under duress is a mitigating factor...

I think I'll just sit quietly here on the sidelines and let others throw the first stones. :P 8)

Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

IainB

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #40 on: October 10, 2015, 01:33:51 AM »
In "fixing" the software/firmware of VW vehicle pollution control systems so that the vehicles could be made to fraudulently pass the emissions tests, did the software developers responsible agree to do something unethical/dishonest?
I'm not the one to judge, but I can't see that they have necessarily done something unethical/immoral. I think that is yet to be proven.

For example, if what Tuxman links to below is true (and it seems to be), and if this is true - 95% of European diesels tested flunk emissions standards - (and it seems to be) - then arguably there has been no wrongoing in the VW case in the first place.
I love how the world discusses Volkswagen's "ethics" while ignoring that everyone cheated before ...  :D
_______________________

The VW fraud would probably never have eventuated if the problem - the setting of artificial "targets" for diesel engine testing - had not been created in error in the first place by a bloated bureaucracy with apparently little or no understanding of processes in statistical control (Shewhart, Deming).
The fact that the targets were also set at evidently infeasible levels (QED) would have merely served to compound the problem.

This looks very much like a textbook example of the sort of thing that W.E.Deming was on about when he published his 14-point philosophy, where point 11 was:
11. [Eliminate targets with no basis in statistical veracity]
   a) Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor.
       Substitute leadership.
   b) Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by
       numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.

(from Chapter 2 of "Out of the Crisis", by W. Edwards Deming).

However, from experience, I predict that, in common with a great many people, approx. 80% (Pareto Principle) of the people who might read this comment will fail to accept or understand the truth of point 11, primarily because it runs contrary to conventional wisdom, and they will be unlikely to have seen the proof of it in Deming's "Red Beads" teaching experiment.

This could seem somewhat ironic, given that amongst his many awards and accolades, Prof. Deming was elected in 1983 to the National Academy of Engineering, and in 1986 to the Science and Technology Hall of Fame in Dayton and he was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1991.
Another case of "Pearls before swine" perhaps.

tomos

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #41 on: October 13, 2015, 08:09:19 AM »
New elements to the VW story shed interesting light (ideas.4brad.com

Makes some interesting points:

more on the initial topic i.e. the POV of the employee: the pressure from the top to succeed (or be fired) -- what do you do in this situation, what does a group (e.g. of engineers) do in this situation?
Which initially seems to be blaming the engineers as the source of the idea, but says this could have been at any level.

I have heard the idea on German radio that in order to pass the tests IRL, performance would have suffered unacceptable levels -- this apparently not the case:
Quote
To add to the shocks, Consumer Reports tested the car in low-emissions cheat mode and the differences were less than you would expect.
    # Acceleration dropped 0.5 seconds (0-60) on older cars and not much on the latest models.
    # Fuel economy dropped from 53 to 50mpg on the 2015, and from 50 to 46mpg on the 2011 models.
^ VW may have considered these levels unacceptable due to competition or whatever, but they dont come across as a company/product struggling because of the emissions regulations.
   
Apparently the testing system in Europe is easier to fool:
Quote
European emissions standards are much more lax, and their official test is very different from real world driving. So cars which pass the Euro test get out on the roads and emit 10x or more NOx pollutants than they do on the test. This is a result not of cheating, but of “designing to the benchmark” — another common problem in the computer industry. They make cars which do decently in the very non-real-world euro-test, and don’t care very much what they do in real driving.
So,
they wanted to sell the same car in the US where tests more stringent, so they created a 'workaround'.

I dont get the impression here that the low emissions regulations were the big problem -- especially if you take into account the relatively small difference in performance between the car in low-emissions mode and in 'normal' mode.
Tom
« Last Edit: October 13, 2015, 08:14:33 AM by tomos »

Stoic Joker

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #42 on: October 13, 2015, 11:24:35 AM »
I have heard the idea on German radio that in order to pass the tests IRL, performance would have suffered unacceptable levels -- this apparently not the case:
Quote
To add to the shocks, Consumer Reports tested the car in low-emissions cheat mode and the differences were less than you would expect.
    # Acceleration dropped 0.5 seconds (0-60) on older cars and not much on the latest models.
    # Fuel economy dropped from 53 to 50mpg on the 2015, and from 50 to 46mpg on the 2011 models.
^ VW may have considered these levels unacceptable due to competition or whatever, but they dont come across as a company/product struggling because of the emissions regulations.


While it is interesting to see the performance/economy impact of the "cheat". The numbers are almost meaningless without the corresponding emissions numbers for both street and cheat modes.

tomos

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #43 on: October 13, 2015, 11:50:48 AM »
I have heard the idea on German radio that in order to pass the tests IRL, performance would have suffered unacceptable levels -- this apparently not the case:
Quote
To add to the shocks, Consumer Reports tested the car in low-emissions cheat mode and the differences were less than you would expect.
    # Acceleration dropped 0.5 seconds (0-60) on older cars and not much on the latest models.
    # Fuel economy dropped from 53 to 50mpg on the 2015, and from 50 to 46mpg on the 2011 models.
^ VW may have considered these levels unacceptable due to competition or whatever, but they dont come across as a company/product struggling because of the emissions regulations.

While it is interesting to see the performance/economy impact of the "cheat". The numbers are almost meaningless without the corresponding emissions numbers for both street and cheat modes.

They invalidate the idea that the regulations were too stringent to be workable.

Whether the regulations make sense or not is another issue. There are the elements Ren point out: mpg vs. emissions, etc. I guess that does have some influence of the ethics of the situation, but is really a different topic I think.

The problem here is that VW lied -- to everyone -- and they got caught. They had other options (that they may or may not have tried -- I dont know). It is an unfortunate situation -- and I really hope they dont get screwed, or destroyed, for a (possible) minor difference in emissions. Using the regulations as an excuse though, is coming at this issue backwards. Again, that doesnt make the regulations correct or reasonable. I dont know enough about them myself to comment.
Tom

Stoic Joker

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #44 on: October 13, 2015, 02:59:02 PM »
The problem here is that VW lied -- to everyone -- and they got caught. They had other options (that they may or may not have tried -- I dont know).

Right, but to me it's a matter of scope ... how big was the lie? Did the waiter have his thumb in my soup - shit happens - or did he shit in the bowl first.

It kinda really matters...especially when they keep hiding/skipping/omitting that - obviously very central - part of the story. Hay if they fudging at trace levels to hit a target (which the performance numbers imply to me) then I say who gives a shit - Let'em be. But if they're fudging whole numbers (also not improbable), then perhaps a few heads on sticks might be in order.

You can't properly discuss a fitting punishment for a crime that hasn't been defined clearly.

wraith808

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #45 on: October 13, 2015, 03:34:37 PM »
New elements to the VW story shed interesting light (ideas.4brad.com

Makes some interesting points:

more on the initial topic i.e. the POV of the employee: the pressure from the top to succeed (or be fired) -- what do you do in this situation, what does a group (e.g. of engineers) do in this situation?
Which initially seems to be blaming the engineers as the source of the idea, but says this could have been at any level.

Thanks for that Tomos... it does point to some of the things that I'd originally wanted to ask- but we've spiraled into talking about VW as a company, rather than the individuals, i.e.

Quote
The ingredients, in this model are:

  • A hard driving culture of expected high performance, and doing what others thought was difficult or impossible.
  • Promising the company you will deliver a hotly needed product in that culture.
  • Realizing too late that you can’t deliver it.
  • Panic, leading to cheating as the only solution in which you survive (at least for a while.)

I ask, because I work in that type of environment.  "Pay for Performance", "Stack Ranking", whatever you call it... it sucks.  They make it even worse by the fact that even though time spent =/= performance, they equate it to that.  If someone is working at 4AM, then then the question should be "Why?" not "Oh, they're really dedicated".  You're supposed to plan for the standard- and do the out of the ordinary when necessary because the standard planning was wrong, and didn't take something into account.  You shouldn't be rewarded for that.

Same thing with this situation.  If someone made a wrong assumption- you don't cheat to make it go away.  But, these kinds of cultures and pressures make people do what they know is wrong.  And it can be hard to stay on the side of the angels if "everyone is doing it".  Some ask about whether it's Ethical, and whether that even enters into it.  Are those the kinds of questions we ask to make it so that we don't have to deal with the deeper issues IMO.  Maybe "Ethics" is the wrong word.  But if you're coding something to get around something that you know is a law... isn't that always wrong?  Or why would you be coding around it and hiding it?

Those are the questions I'd wanted to to get to.  Because even in not dealing with that, I have hard decisions quite a few times- should I speak up and be known as the 'negative nelly', even though the concerns are right?  And be marginalized because of it?

One of the comments points to the actual dilemma:

Quote
Eventually, even when a project isn't going off the rails, you always start tuning for the benchmarks whether they are Spec, or 3DMark, or Common Core, whatever. That's fine, necessary even.

Eventually, you almost always wind up with cases of "this makes the benchmark better" and either "doesn't do squat in real life" (benign), or "and does something really sucky in real life" (malicious) and everything in between.

Almost never will your entire management chain appear in your cube (Ha! Fooled you, no one gets cubes anymore) in capes, top hats, and twisting their mustaches and go "BwaHaHa, we are Evil(tm), pursue plan Maximum-Deception!!!". Except maybe 3DMark, no really, look into that shit; people literally looked at the name of the binary running and did lo-res/fast rendering for that binary only; amazing.

No, what will happen is your manager will stare glassy eyed at a point 3 feet behind your head and state the the #1 priority is to get the very best performance on FooMark2000, get the best performance for all customer cases foreseen and unforeseen, shave 4 weeks off the promised schedule, and follow the 27 point Corporate Responsibility Achievement Partnership we were told about at onboarding and forced to recertify every 89 days.

If you inform your management chain that some of the above items are in conflict, they will blink rapidly to indicate duress, mutter something about the 27 points of CRAP, how Black Duck will catch it if it is a problem, and then scurry away and never make eye contact with you again.

I've had that in real life- where we're coding a new state-of-the-art system upgrade, and all of a sudden realize that it's not as performant as it should be.  It wasn't related to safety or anything, but the chills that go down your spine are pretty bad.  In our case, we did investigation into the solutions, said, "Hey, these are the numbers.  We can make them better, and have user stories on the backlog to do so.  But they will push back the release.  Or we can do it after." We left it at that with the higher ups, and they chose option C- not to do anything.  Then when there were complaints, we pointed to that- and said we knew areas to increase performance.  The fact that we'd done it the way that we did sort of covered us- but not really, though we were able to shuffle it off and get it fixed.

What do you do when confronted with those types of situations?  Especially when everyone around you wants to circumvent them?
« Last Edit: October 13, 2015, 03:41:30 PM by wraith808 »

IainB

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #46 on: October 13, 2015, 07:11:46 PM »
^^ This all reminds me of what I wrote above:
...However, from experience, I predict that, in common with a great many people, approx. 80% (Pareto Principle) of the people who might read this comment will fail to accept or understand the truth of point 11, primarily because it runs contrary to conventional wisdom, and they will be unlikely to have seen the proof of it in Deming's "Red Beads" teaching experiment. ...
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Told you.

tomos

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #47 on: October 14, 2015, 07:09:42 AM »
I've had that in real life- where we're coding a new state-of-the-art system upgrade, and all of a sudden realize that it's not as performant as it should be.  It wasn't related to safety or anything, but the chills that go down your spine are pretty bad.  In our case, we did investigation into the solutions, said, "Hey, these are the numbers.  We can make them better, and have user stories on the backlog to do so.  But they will push back the release.  Or we can do it after." We left it at that with the higher ups, and they chose option C- not to do anything.  Then when there were complaints, we pointed to that- and said we knew areas to increase performance.  The fact that we'd done it the way that we did sort of covered us- but not really, though we were able to shuffle it off and get it fixed.

What do you do when confronted with those types of situations?  Especially when everyone around you wants to circumvent them?

all I can do is sympathise, because I have no idea how I would react until confronted directly with such a situation.

Corporate systems seem to be largely dysfunctional. It would be lovely to work in an environment like Iain suggests, i.e. where leadership *leads*, rather than crushes.

In general, I would say to stay true to [what you think is right / gut feeling / yourself / **]. One has to do that, at least to a certain extent, but each situation is going to be different. Negative thinking / expectations in such a situation would weaken your position / conviction / expression. (No, I'm not saying to think naively, nor even to 'think positively' -- rather to be open to possibilities -- also where you would normally least expect them.)
Now,
if only I were better at following that life-advice myself :-)


** all of the above would be my approach, but that's another one that each person has to figure out for themselves.
Tom

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #48 on: October 14, 2015, 07:12:39 AM »
Now, if only I were better at following that life-advice myself :-)

Now now.  Please don't lapse into unethical behavior yourself.  We all know life would be too easy if we all acted on the advice we give others.  Plus I am pretty sure it's against the Geneva Accords.  :)

tomos

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Re: Ethics in Technology
« Reply #49 on: October 14, 2015, 07:14:52 AM »
Now, if only I were better at following that life-advice myself :-)

Now now.  Please don't lapse into unethical behavior yourself.  We all know life would be too easy if we all acted on the advice we give others.  Plus I am pretty sure it's against the Geneva Accords.  :)

 ;D :P :D
Tom