Lessons in Decision-Making: A Computing Perspective

Sony is a name that rings loudly in the hearts, minds, and ears (of course) of many. The company is a leading manufacturer of electronics, and is the result of two successful professionals, Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita. Just as with any business, this success came from wise decisions and also from successful clean-ups from the effects of bad decisions. As computer professionals, it is important for us to understand such decisions, even from corporate perspectives. In this article, we shall study a certain important decision that Sony was faced with regarding one of its major investments. Continue reading

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Professional Ethics: A Philosophical Analysis For Computer Professionals

Something that we often forget is that with every right bestowed upon us, there is a corresponding duty tied to it. We have the freedom to make our own decisions, however we are also responsible for making decisions that contribute to positive outcomes. This responsibility turns out to be quite significant in society, as it is often translated into a valuable skill for our day-to-day living. Essentially, we need to know how to distinguish between a good decision and a bad decision; something that happens to be directly (and heavily) influenced by our individual sense of morality. However, where the skill actually lies is not necessarily in having the highest of morals, but rather in using the most appropriate standard as the situation calls for it. This is a fundamental concept of professional ethics. Continue reading

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Accountability: A Message To All Software Engineers

When groups of professionals work together towards the production of a good or a service, there is a certain sense of responsibility that must be expected from each and every one of these individuals. Consider a construction project of a firm: the architects and designers are responsible for designing the blueprints of efficient, appealing, and practical structures; the engineers are expected to correspond according to these designs and perform their tasks with utmost attention towards accuracy. Each one of these individuals is responsible for his/her contribution towards the erection of the structure. Now when disaster strikes, the firm is accountable for the damage caused. This might sound normal and fair at first; people are expected to be responsible for their actions, and when their actions prove to be harmful, they are penalized accordingly. However, what some might miss, is that there is a distinct difference between accountability and responsibility. Not every person responsible for something is held accountable for it as well. Continue reading

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Working away from work: Telecommuting

Observing the course of history and all the great inventions and discoveries of man, one might pose the question, ‘what motivates man?’ In fact, it is a very good question. What is that spark that has always ignited the fire? What has motivated us to advance this far in technology; what has inspired man to develop solutions to increase efficiency tremendously? The answer – his laziness. It is really interesting (actually, more ironic) how we tend to put in the effort to develop something that eliminates the need for the effort that was put in. The invention of computers is a prime example. All jokes aside, the advent of computers over the last few decades has gone so far as to change the entire lifestyle of mankind. People are putting in much less work and are getting much more done. For example, publishing this very blog is far more productive on a computer’s word processor rather than with paper and pen. With all this in mind, it is well worth noting an interesting phenomenon – how computers and related technology have completely changed the way people work. Continue reading

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Suppression and Expression: Government and the Individual

Throughout the course of the history of mankind, we can not help but make a few distinct observations on human interaction. The most interesting thing I’ve been noticing is the uniquely unstable (and confusing) relationship between the Constitution, the Government, and the Individual. It’s sort of like a love triangle; both the Government and the Individual love the rights and freedoms listed out by the Constitution, both the Government and the Individual hate each other (on a comical note of course), and both the Government and the Individual are loved equally by the Constitution. As for me, sometimes I find myself on the side of the Government, and other times I’m all for Individual rights. What is certain is that the Government and the Individual have had very intriguing clashes in the past and in fact, still do. Hence, by studying the two sides from different viewpoints, one can hopefully understand both entities a little better. Continue reading

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Privacy: a birthright worth compromising?

You are in the middle of a heated political debate between your party and your opposition in a real-time online conference. Your team has been doing well and has gotten the opposing party irate. Suddenly, one of your opponents steps up and having no other points to make, tells you to ‘shut up and sit down, or else you’ll regret it’. Feeling victorious and bold, you chuckle and reply ‘Please, what would I regret?’ A few days later, you wake up to an odd phone call from one of your colleagues, who ominously warns you to ‘be careful, you are being watched.’ A day or two after that phone call, you return home from work only to find your house empty and in bad condition, blood stains all over the place, and a lone table upon which lies a note for you that says ‘Too bad, your daughter was charming. I told you you’d regret it.’

From reading this completely exaggerated, fictitious (and ridiculous) story composed by me, you might wonder how the protagonist’s daughter got involved in this. It was an online conference after all. How could the opposition know of the address of residence of the protagonist, the politician? How could someone from the other end of the province know that the protagonist actually had a daughter? From my italicized hints, you can clearly see where I am heading with this. In the story above, the only intentional relevance it has to my train of thought is how the opposition could have possibly found out enough information about the protagonist to be able to commit murder right at his house. With the advancement in computer technology over the past few years, more doors for crime have been opened. One such exploit that criminals, hackers, and even police organizations have used and abused is the fairly careless compromising of online privacy.

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