Ethics Skills in IT Architecture

A repost from The Architect Abstract

I’ve been away building and authoring courses, so writing has gone into something other than frivolous blurbs. Just came back from an evening with a speaker on ethics – it was supposed to have something to do with Ethics in IT and although that’s not what it was about,

I Was Able To Draw A Few Lines and Relationships To IT From What The Speaker Had To Say.

A few thoughts that came to me through this – there was someone who asked how it was related to Risk Management. It came from a security professional who was also a Security Consulting firm owner. In a way, it seems that about half of the questions posed in one of these sessions are self-serving, and this seemed to be one of them. The speaker gracefully told yet another anecdote – the speaker seemed to have nothing but, but we heard about the Pinto story. The company weighed their options, and chose the least expensive, without looking at the risk or harm to the ones that would be blown up.

The speaker also told anecdotes about butterfly ballots and the loss of trust and believe in politicians. I’m not sure this has changed over time, but rather has just become more exposed because of IT and the world of information. Scandals are instantly publicized and we can find out both the truth and rumours almost moments after they happen.

The speaker specialized in Biometrics & Ethics and stated that they didn’t trust the medical system or doctors. This came from the whole whistleblower issues and the lack of benefits to those who do expose those who stretch, bend and manipulate the better good of society for medical profits. Doctors and hospitals take money for research, funding and sponsorship in exchange for the promotion of a pharmaceuticals drugs. Researchers are encouraged to hide data that might be detrimental to the unveiling of a prospective lucrative drug.

How does any of this relate to IT? The speaker did mention IT a couple of brief times – both times resonating something within me. His first comment was that we are now able to get a lot of data cheap, which is causing trouble in this world. Examples were getting enough data to steal people’s credit cards, get enough information to impersonate, and also to spread viruses and cause billions of dollars worth of damage. He alluded to the fact that we are able to get information fast which might be helpful. No anecdotes – this might have been about fear and his anecdotes about the bad were better than the good.

How about being able to send email to those we like and love that have moved away, or sending notes back home when we are forced to be away. How about getting information from legal sites on companies that we are about to do business with and expose the frauds they are before they happen? How about researching tools and items for purchase in a preliminary way, bettering our decision making processes, or arming ourselves with background information so that we might ask better questions in order to get better results. Our infrastructure designs have become so complicated and we have so many choices – we NEED to get information quickly.

The second thought I had during all of this, was that if we are to be ethical, we must balance our need to make a living and a profit in doing the right thing. We as architects must weigh our inherent desire to design the best architecture with one that is good enough for the time and budget allotted. Professionals such as engineers, architects, doctors and accountants take oaths that they may or may not be able to recite a few years past their indoctrination, but most will not sign or do things they know will jeopardize their licenses.

We don’t have licenses, not yet anyways, that we can use as our backstops and reasoning against doing the wrong things. All we have is our pride and reputation. We can use our talent and skill to do the right thing and pick the best architecture or make the best architectural choices that fit our PM’s budget, time and quality requirements. We have to protect our reputations, and sometimes we have to walk away from the project, contract or decisions that we feel are not right, even though we are feeling intense pressure to do otherwise.

Happy Architecting!

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