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Ask Slashdot: Developer Responsibility When Apps Might Risk Lives?

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    Last Updated: October 25, 2013

    First time accepted submitter bashaw writes “What ethical responsibilities do software developers have in determining the role that mobile devices take in our lives? As performance increases, size decreases, and the only limitation is the software available, mobile devices have expanded into new areas of our lives for which they were not designed. This raises the ethical question of who decides what software is available, and therefore what role these devices should take. I am a software developer at the Canadian Avalanche Centre. We recently issued a warning about mobile avalanche search applications that are marketed as avalanche rescue systems. Three smartphone applications are presenting themselves as economical alternatives to avalanche transceivers, the electronic device used by backcountry users to find buried companions in case of an avalanche. The applications are not an adequate replacement for an avalanche transceiver for many reasons, and we are concerned about the use of this software in lieu of a specifically-designed avalanche transceiver. When it is a question of public safety, does the onus fall on the developers, a government agency or the users themselves?”

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