Most of the time, a person’s role model or hero from a movie is the main character, and sometimes it is the villain (cough, cough; Darth Vader). My hero happens to be Miles Bennett Dyson from Terminator 2: Judgement Day, heres why.
Note: Updated on August 07th, 2017
In light of the “Google Bro” controversy; if you need to catch up on news Motherboard has a great article about it. It is more evident that our industry lacks ethics!
Unfortunately, many programmers don’t know much about ethics, history, law, and apparently biology even if we spend millions in their edu.
— j b d (@rakyll) August 7, 2017
Note: If you haven’t seen Terminator 2: Judgement Day, I strongly urge you to stop reading this blog and go watch it now! The film was originally released in 1991 and I must say it was ahead of its time in both storyline and FX.
Before I move forward, I am sure most can agree that in our industry (mobile app/web development) there are hardly any ethics!
Software engineers of Silicon Valley: if your company asks you to do something illegal or unethical, refuse/quit/drop docs to journalist.
— Eva (@evacide) April 23, 2017
Why is this? Well ethics is not widely taught and hardly any company brings them up during onboarding. I remember touching and reading about ethics in College at most during two semesters, while taking the following courses (Cultural Anthropology, Political Science and Economics). For example, pre-law students take a year of ethics related coursework and so do pre-med students. However, in our industry you can enroll in a coding bootcamp and twelve weeks later you’re considered a mobile or web developer. Also, with the rise of tech-conferences in the last five years, very few keynote speakers have spoken about ethics:
Who is giving professional software devs talks/workshops/classes on ethics?
— Veronica Ray (@nerdonica) January 12, 2017
How do we change this? And why am I even writing about it? Let me answer my own question; why am I writing about it. I’m guilty of doing unethical tasks early in my career. I began working at an agency in the creative industry in early 2011, and my very first tasks where to send spammy links to our clients competitors websites. I am not proud of this! And I am not alone, other programmers have been asked by their employers to do a variety of unethical tasks:
An amazing read: Programmers confess unethical, illegal tasks asked of them! – https://t.co/sEXRQWaLTi
— Kevin Rodriguez™ (@kevallrod) November 21, 2016
Now to answer, how do we change this? The overall discussion is certainly there on twitter, blogs and media news outlets; but the implementation is lacking.
Hey @uber, adding a “feature” requires you to hide it from Apple engineers, YOU’RE PROBABLY DOING SOMETHING BAD. pic.twitter.com/n4G5Py1DyK
— Eva (@evacide) April 23, 2017
Some companies are more concerned about their profits or becoming profitable than been ethical!
Wow, this almost felt like a rant; ha. Now, why is Miles Dyson a personal hero of mine even though he’s a fictional movie character? Let me explain (Spoiler Alert). During the ending of The Terminator (first film) Sarah Connor destroys a cybernetic terminator (T-800 Model 101), inside a manufacturing facility owned by Cyberdyne Systems. Only two pieces of the T-800 survive a microchip chasis and an endoskeleton forearm, which Cyberdyne Systems reverse engineers and becomes a top government defense contractor.
In the second film, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, after escaping from a mental institution Sarah Connor learns of the identity of the man responsible for the deaths of three billion people through thermal nuclear war. This individual happens to be Dr. Miles Bennett Dyson, Director of Special Projects at Cyberdyne Systems. Miles Dyson is on the verge of finishing a new neural-net processor, once complete it will revolutionize the government defense industry.
In a unsuccessful attempt to stop “Judgement Day” from happening, Sarah Connor tries to assassinate Miles Dyson at his home.
Once Miles Dyson learns how his life’s work and research have an impact against humanity, he quickly decides to stop working at Cyberdyne Systems and agrees to destroy all research documents. This is big!
The ability to drop everything and do what is right; that is respectable.
Here’s a man that has everything, a respectable career, great salary with stock options, a nice home and a beautiful family. Also, he’s close on solving a big problem – AI (Artificial Intelligence). Yet, when he learns how his ambition destroys half of humanity; you quickly see a humane side. A truly masterpiece moment.
Reality. We should all have the same principles that Miles Dyson displayed, I understand that often it’s hard to do a culture change within a team or even a company as a whole. Though, it is possible. A great example of an ethical company from the get-go is Fog Creek Software, which I admire and respect their software development process.
If you’re just beginning your programming or developer career; please be ethical and know your professional boundaries! I can assure you this will make you a far better professional and individual, if you want to learn more I recommend this talk from Uncle Bob; no not that uncle bob, ha!