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Ethics, Shareware, Freeware & AI

A set of rules or principles which regulates the actions of people or computers within an area of profession.

So ethics is just a set of rules to decide if something is right or wrong

We need to remember the IEEE/ACM code of ethics and there are 8 rules to be remembered:

  • Public
  • The software engineers must keep in mind of the best interest of the public

    This includes the public good and the good of their welfare

    An example is making sure that data belonging to the public is kept confidential

  • Client and Employer
  • Software Engineers must keep in mind the best interest of their clients and their employers and also consistent with the interest of the public.

    A good example is making sure the software made for the client is made with good quality and standards

  • Products
  • Software Engineers must ensure that their products or future updates are at the highest standard possible

    Products in this sense means the paid software

    An example is making sure the product is secure and fully tested.

  • Judgement
  • Software Engineers must have good judgment and also independent(unbiased) judgement

    An example is that software developers make their own good judgment of a particular problem or situation

  • Profession
  • The Software Engineers must advance or improve the integrity and reputation of their profession, consistent with the public interest.

    This includes such as removing bad practices in their profession such as lack of hardwork

  • Collegues
  • Software Engineers must be supportive of their colleagues and must keep their interest also

    This includes helping a staff member by teaching them and not putting them under great pressure

  • Self
  • The Software Engineer must participate in lifelong learning in their profession and should promote an ethical approach to the practice of their profession

    This includes attending meetings and workshops

  • Management
  • The Software Managers or leaders must promote an ethical approach to the management of software development.

    This includes the management of the testing of the software and also making sure the software is completed within the planned time.

    Note that most of these points prospect for the public good - the welfare and environment and the interest and concerns of the public.

    This means using funds efficiently and protecting the environment.


    Usually in questions, they give an example of a situation and ask whether it is ethical or not and we must explain the points to support it.

    Here is the catch! Sometimes they accept both answers or sometimes it's quite obvious. So the explanation is where you need to work on

    Let us see an example

    A Software Engineer of a big company has recently been aware that the company is selling the user(public) data to advertising companies secretly. The company has bribed you to keep your mouth shut but, you have decided to go to the police. Explain whether this was ethical or not

    Ethical. As the software engineer must look for the best interest of the general public and also the clients.

    Also the software engineer must advance the integrity and reputation of the business before it gets any worse. However, this may destroy the reputation of the business

    Also the software engineer must have an ethical approach to practicing the profession. This means rejecting any form of bribery. This also advances the integrity of the profession

    Ownerships and Softwares


    A formal recognition of ownership of a created and published work.

    A work could be anything such as music,website or a software. You can't copyright ideas, this is known as patents.

    And so the Copyright law protects others from using another person's work to generate revenue or for other uses

    The copyright law records the date which the document was made and records until which date the copyright law applies. Also the procedure to be taken when the copyright law expires

    Copyrights are not part of ethics as these are laws implemented around the world and if broken have large consequences. Also usually the copyright law states how the document is to be used

    To use a copyrighted material requires permission from the owner

    Commercial softwares

    These softwares are distributed to the public in exchange for a fee. However there are two types of commercial softwares which are free but have some connditions:

    • Freeware
    • They are given free of charge and they are usually the beta version or the version which has limited features.

      This can be used by the user but he wont be able to take advantage of all the features of the original one.

      Freewares do have copyright legistations and the source code is not distributed(only the compiled code)

    • Shareware
    • A software which is usually distributed and is free to use but only for a limited time or trial

      Most of the time this version has all the features but only for a limited time

      Copyright laws still apply and also the source code is not sent

      Open Source software

      Another word for this is the free software

      This is a software which users have the liberty to change,modify and use the source code for their personal use.

      Usually there are no copyright laws and so it is free to be distributed. However if someone does use the source code to make other codes, it must be also be a free software

      This is quite confusing but, the software sometimes comes with a small fee and sometimes doesn't.

      The source code is send for users to do whatever they want


      The act of copying another person's work and recognising it as yours

      The copyright law prevents people from plagiarising

      Artificial Intelligence

      This is more of an A2 topic however we will cover it briefly.

      AI is the study of computers being able to perform things which humans are better at than computers. There are 5 main behaviours or qualities the computer needs to mimic to become truly AI.

    • Problem Solving
    • The computer must be able to come up with new and original ways to approach a solution to a problem

    • Perception
    • Detecting changes in the environment(stimuli) using sensors and being able to respond appropriately

    • Linguistics
    • The ability to understand language and words through the use of speech recognition

    • Learning
    • Being able to learn new things and come up with new ideas and outputs based on the data fed to the system.

      This is part of machine learning where the computer gathers a large set of data to make predictions of the future or to make suggestions or provide preferences to the user

    • Reasoning
    • To be able to come up with a logical conclusion based on the evidence. This means filtering out wrong information

      Impacts of AI

      If AI does indeed becomes perfect, they could be very useful as they can perform things which even humans can not do and judge situations and problems more efficiently and faster.

      They could be used in medical systems to predict solutions and also be used in the manufacturing process

      They could be used also in driverless cars

      The problems caused by AI would be that this would cause lack of jobs to human workers and also cause more laziness. Also as AI has the upper hand it can manipulate data and be entirely up to no good as they have there own mind to decide what is right and wrong

      Infact destroying the human race could be the robot's reasoning for a better future! This is why many don't like the idea of AI.

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