While these are relevant issues, I had something far more mundane in
mind, actions that do not touch philosophy, but do touch criminal law.
Programming machines is ultimately a mechanical process, like digging a
hole with a shovel. You can toss the dirt anywhere around, or into one
specific spot. It is a voluntary and identifiable action.
Example: under European GDPR (article 22) if an individual opts out,
most data cannot leave EU, period. If programmer creates, or applies a
code someone else created, that reads data from a server located in EU,
then without regard to personal opt-out causes the data to be
transported to a machine outside EU, then this engineer has committed a
crime, by pressing keyboard or touchscreen in a sequence that instructed
the machine to perform unlawful operation.
Like driving a car into a person on the zebra crossing: steering wheel,
gas pedal, keyboard - same thing. The prosecutor can go after this engineer.
The licensing process would ensure that engineers are aware of GDPR,
among other things. It cannot ensure that they will comply, but the
awareness creates legal liability.
It is that simple. No need to dive deep into complex societal,
ideological or philosophical issues.
There is no question that corporations will fight such regulations tooth
and nail, using 'tremendous complexity of issues' as red herring. They
want their employees to be treated as soldiers following orders. This in
itself demonstrates better than anything the situation we are dealing
with, and why is computing machine engineering ultimately a military
I feel we need a redefinition of practice: one that transcends both
creative personality and business organisation, to explore the
practice as a place. This would be a place that shelters reflection,
where the important issues are defined and one energetically explores
how design can tackle these issues.
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