In every profession there is a series of ethical codes that one must follow and abide by to remain morally just and maintain a solid level of professionalism. The computing field follows the Association of Computing Machinery Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. The moral values stated in the Case Resolution Model are seen in this list of ethical codes. The moral values emphasized in the Association of Computing Machinery are honesty, commitment, non-maleficence, fairness & justice, responsibility, and beneficence. These moral values are needed in order to create a safe, productive, and well-functioning work environment.
The first moral value that is addressed in the ACM code of ethics is honesty. Honesty is important in the computer field because it reflects one’s professionalism. Computing professionals should be honest about their qualifications, and about any limitations in their competence to complete a task. Computing professionals should be forthright about any circumstances that might lead to either real or perceived conflicts of interest or otherwise tend to undermine the independence of their judgment. Furthermore, commitments should be honored. Computing professionals should not misrepresent an organization’s policies or procedures and should not speak on behalf of an organization unless authorized to do so (ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, 2018). This statement directly from the ACM states the various ways being honest is imperative in the computing profession. It is important to disclose any information about systems, how they work, or potential problems to any people who may be involved. These people would include coworkers, bosses or managers, and customers. When working, one should be honest about their qualifications and knowledge of the technology they are working with. Lastly, one should be honest about the policies their company has because out on the field, they are representing that organization so their ability to implement policies and procedures correctly is a reflection of the company as a whole.
Also under the same section as honesty in the ACM, commitment is a moral value upheld in the code of ethics. The code simply states that commitments should be honored. This is important in this profession because it is critical in remaining professional and creating a productive work environment. In other words, if one is expected to work on a scheduled date and specific time, that commitment should be honored.
The next moral value that is reflected in the ACM is non-maleficence and compassion. These values are necessary in creating a safer work environment. The ACM states this as to avoid harm, which is the idea of non-maleficence; it is the intention to prevent harm. Non-maleficence is the prevention of harm which is a crucial moral value in the computing professional world. The ACM code of ethics says, Avoiding harm begins with careful consideration of potential impacts on all those affected by decisions (ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, 2018). In the computing profession, one’s decision can potentially cause harm either intentionally or unintentionally. When working in this profession, one should think about how doing a certain action could affect other people and what harm could be caused, as stated in the quote from the code of ethics. It is crucial to try and take the necessary steps to ensure little to no harm is done. A sub-section under non-maleficence is compassion. Compassion is grouped with non-maleficence because there can be non-maleficence with or without compassion. Compassion is the emotional attachment to non-maleficence, and it has more to do with relieving any harm rather than preventing it. The ACM code of ethics states, When that harm is unintended, those responsible are obliged to undo or mitigate the harm as much as possible (ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, 2018). If there is some harm caused, the ACM states that it must be rectified immediately. In this quote, the person who caused any harm must do whatever they can to relieve the harm that is being done.
The third and fourth moral values needed to remain professional in a computing career are fairness and justice. The ACM has a section titled, Be fair and take action not to discriminate. In this section of the code of ethics, one must make sure that technology is accessible to all people regardless of age, race, gender, or financial status. The ACM explains, Technologies and practices should be as inclusive and accessible as possible and computing professionals should take action to avoid creating systems or technologies that disenfranchise or oppress people (ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, 2018). Fairness is important to remaining professional because it is up to the employee to make sure that technologies are not kept at bay from a certain group of people due to any sort of prejudices. Any sort of discrimination goes against the ACM’s code of ethics and therefore does not display any fairness or justice.
Responsibility is the next moral value found in the ACM’s code of ethics. Responsibility is important in the computing profession for several reasons. High quality computing depends on individuals and teams who take personal and group responsibility for acquiring and maintaining professional competence. Professional competence starts with technical knowledge and with awareness of the social context in which their work may be deployed (ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, 2018). This statement from the code of ethics shows how responsibility is needed in this field of work because one must be responsible for having a thorough understanding of the technology they are working with. They should also be responsible for knowing how it is applied in the real world. Second, the ACM states, Upgrading skills should be an ongoing process and might include independent study, attending conferences or seminars, and other informal or formal education (ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, 2018). It is well known that technology is ever changing and evolving, and it is happening incredibly fast. In the professional world, it is important that one continues to keep up with new technology and infrastructures that are being utilized today. The code of ethics believes it is one’s personal responsibility to continue to educate themselves on any new information and practices that arise.
Finally, Beneficence is the last moral value emphasized in the ACM’s code of ethics. Beneficence is similar to non-maleficence; however, the difference is the intentions behind the action. While non-maleficence is the intent to prevent harm, beneficence is the intent to benefit someone. This is an idea brought up several times in the ACM code of ethics. One particular quote that describes this from the ACM says, Peopleincluding users, customers, colleagues, and others affected directly or indirectlyshould always be the central concern in computing. The public good should always be an explicit consideration when evaluating tasks associated with research, requirements analysis, design, implementation, testing, validation, deployment, maintenance, retirement, and disposal (ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, 2018). Here, it is said that people are the most important part of computing professions. The happiness of the public is crucial in the code of ethics. It should be at the forefront of all decision making. Beneficence is important in creating a safer and productive work environment because all computer work should be done to benefit someone or multiple people. The ACM states that any and all people should be the main focus of any work being done. The computing work is being done to benefit someone, which is why it falls under this category.
While all these moral values are stressed in the ACM, there is one value that is not. Loyalty is one moral value that is not emphasized in the ACM. This value is not stressed because it can be difficult to maintain a sense of loyalty to someone or something if it goes against the code of ethics. For example, if one employee sees a coworker that they are friends with violating a policy, they are obligated to report it to a supervisor. This employee may feel conflicted because while they know it goes against the code’s policy of honesty, they want to remain loyal to their friend. The right thing to do is to report their coworker and put the company above their loyalty to their friend. Under section 1.2, titled Avoid Harm, the code states, A computing professional has an additional obligation to report any signs of system risks that might result in harm. If leaders do not act to curtail or mitigate such risks, it may be necessary to ‘blow the whistle’ to reduce potential harm (ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, 2018). Like the code states as well as the hypothetical scenario described, it is sometimes necessary to speak up or against something or someone in order to prevent a bigger problem, which is why loyalty is not one of the moral values emphasized in the code of ethics.
When the right moral values are introduced and upheld by each and every employee, they maintain a state of professionalism These values include; honesty, commitment, non-maleficence, fairness & justice, responsibility, and beneficence. When these moral values are working in harmony, it ensures a better work experience for both employees and clients. The values that are listed in the Association of Computing Machinery Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct are the moral values necessary to remain professional and create a safe, productive, and well-functioning work environment.
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