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To Serve Man, with Software


I had the exact same experience – in light of Jeff’s advice, I might try to get her to give it another go.

Funny enough, the same thing happened with Star Trek TNG. Hadn’t seen it since I was a kid, wanted to show it to my kids, and the first few episodes were junk. Just like this, I saw an article online shortly thereafter that said to skip ahead to a particular later episode (somewhere in the middle of S2 I think?) and just pretend the earlier ones never happened.


This problem is made worse because often you can’t always tell bad code from it’s outward appearance. So you end up with bad programmers writing code that “just works” without regard for good practices, much less for getting better at their craft.


I haven’t seen that code of conduct before, thanks! I know a couple places that can start using it today. Couldn’t say whether it would improve the troubles you mention, but it seems like the right approach to me.


Season 1 Episode 1 is a twisted parable for the Twitter age; a political thriller involving the kidnapping of fictional Princess Susannah, a much-loved member of the British Royal Family; Prime Minister Michael Callow deals with the crisis. It involves blackmailing the PM and a pig and the story line may cross a line for many people. It might not be the best episode to start the series but I wouldn’t skip the whole first season.

Each episode has different actors and topics so unlike STNG (and other series), the cast and story line doesn’t improve with time.


The DestroyBaghdad method is a pretty clear-cut case of code doing bad things. But what about more subtle cases of “software development malpractice?”

I think this comes back to the whole “professionalisation of IT” idea that’s been making the rounds for a half-century. I’m a member of the Canadian Information Processing Society (www.cips.ca), which tries to regulate that problem similar to how engineers, doctors and lawyers do it. They’ve got a professional body of knowledge, a code of ethics, certification for university and college programs and legislated rights to a designation in many jurisdictions.

Personally, I like the idea of going to jail if my code kills people or causes significant loss or I act unethically/unprofessionally and someone is harmed by my work. I really think that what we do is important enough to society that society mandates that we do it well.


It seems the subject of this post is a thing. I got this for Christmas:


It is a start into the endeavour of “programming less badly” like the German title of this book translates.


It seems to me that you missed the whole point of that example :slight_smile:

Are you truly a programmer? :stuck_out_tongue:


DestroyBaghdad() makes perfectly good sense if all you have is Baghdad. In the general case I agree it’s bad programming, I’m just saying that never is too strong a word–there are edge cases where it makes sense.


It’s received not recieved. :expressionless:


I think the point of the quote is that programmers’ ethics are concerned with how code is written, rather than the ethics of the resulting action when the code is executed. i.e., this method to destroy a city could be improved by accepting any city so not just Baghdad could be destroyed.