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Mechatronics Zone

Should We Pay More Attention to Software Ethics?

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Jon Titus
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Re: Software Ethics
Jon Titus   3/16/2012 4:12:25 PM
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The credit card companies charge merchants 3 to 4 percent to process card payments, so I suppose some of that income goes into a reserve to pay claims of fraud.  By the way it's a good idea to call your credit card company and let them know about any trips you plan to take when you'll visit outside the USA or travel for more than a week.  That way they know your charges are legitimate when they see a restaurant or hotel bill come through from a location on your itinerary. Some banks let customers handle this sort of notification online.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Software Ethics
Rob Spiegel   3/16/2012 4:02:58 PM
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Interesting points, Jon. The logical conclusion is that fraud is not a large enough problem to warrant security measures. It's rare that anyone asks me to present ID when I use my VISA card. Usually it's an unsophisticated mom and pop shop. I don't know who they think they're protecting? If the charge goes through, they get paid. I owned a magazine for a decade. We sold subs and ancillary products, taking credit cards over the phone and through mail. Obviously, ID was out of the question.

Charles Murray
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Re: Software Ethics
Charles Murray   3/14/2012 10:07:47 PM
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Jon: I have to admit that I've been one of those people who readily showed my picture ID because I thought that was the right and safe thing to do. Having read your column and the follow-up comments here, I won't do it anymore.

Larry M
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Platinum
Re: "...ethical obligation..."
Larry M   3/14/2012 1:25:22 PM
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"I doubt Franklin, Galvani, and Volta expected their efforts to store electricity to be turned into a device like a Taser.  It's impossible to anticipate how one's efforts will be misused in the future."

Not so sure about Franklin.  He was known for getting all his guests to hold hands in a circle and and then inserting a Leyden jar (charged capacitor) into the circle circuit to shock everyone at once. He also got a few tickles from the key-kite-lightining experiments. Not so sure about Galvani--he used to shock dead frogs with a bi-metallic battery.  And don't forget Edison and all those animal and human electrocutions to show that DC was supposedly safer than AC.

Good thing we engineers don't have a reputation as cruel sadists.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Stick by your ethics
Rob Spiegel   3/14/2012 1:17:45 PM
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That's pretty good, Jim. Google has a list of 10 principles of doing business:

 

http://www.google.com/intl/en/about/company/tenthings.html

The company also has a list of privacy principles, software principles and design principles. While the ideas expressed are fine, I do think Google walks a squiggly line when it comes to privacy. 

Perhaps privacy isn't what it used to be. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg once quipped that nobody cares about privacy any longer. Interesting comment.

ChasChas
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Platinum
Re: back to basics
ChasChas   3/14/2012 12:37:30 PM
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I think I verified that, Jon. I mentioned that prudence dictates what is spread around, but the IP still goes into the brain. I mentioned not only laws, but rules too.

Sorry if I gave the wrong impression.

Jon Titus
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Re: back to basics
Jon Titus   3/14/2012 12:26:14 PM
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Hi, ChasChas.  So then if a company gives me a tour of its plant and I see something on a new design on a lab bench it's OK to take the information I have seen and use it?  Honorable people have a set of ethics that tells them although the information is visible, it's not theirs and they cannot exploit it.

ChasChas
User Rank
Platinum
back to basics
ChasChas   3/14/2012 12:13:01 PM
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Any information we can glean through our senses while not breaking any laws or rules is fair game to anyone. Prudence tells us what to spread around and what not to spread around.

So again, it's not the software, it's the people. Sound familiar? It's not the gun, it's the people. It's not the car, it's the driver. etc.

We just need to work out that balance again - between benefits verses rights/privacy as in all things. What we get will not be perfect. 

Jon Titus
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Blogger
Re: Software Ethics
Jon Titus   3/14/2012 11:08:22 AM
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Not stupid at all.  In fact, the VISA and MasterCard merchant agreements clearly state a merchant MAY NOT ask for a photo ID.  Repeated requests for photo IDs usually come at the behest of an ignorant store manager and could cause VISA or MC to cancel their agreement. Never provide more personal information than necessary.  I'm always surprised that so many people do not know their rights to privacy and display a photo ID whenever someone asks.

I once asked a spokesperson at a charge-card company why they don't use a fingerprint scanner to authenticate credit-card purchases. He told me it would cost more to install the scanners, buy or create software, and gather fingerprint data that it would save them. Thus it cost less to have reserves for fraudulent purchases than to secure against them.

ed_bltn
User Rank
Iron
Re: Software Ethics
ed_bltn   3/14/2012 10:11:49 AM
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"I refuse to show a photo ID when I make an in-person credit card purchase,"

 

This is just being stupid by orneriness. I wish they all asked for ID. I'd rather show a photo ID and have a clerk really look at it than the cursory glance at the signature space they usually perform.  I don't sign the cards, a protection I take in case my physical cards are stolen. However, store clerks usually don't even notice even when they make the motions of looking at the signature.

 

At the point of purchase, the store clerk has your credit card number which ties into all kinds of other data anyway. And they are seeing your face...hopefully, if the card is not stolen. For me, the privacy ship has sailed as soon as the purchase is made, and I'd rather have my facial appearance or some other biometric used for security from theft.

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