by Spencer Gardner on December 4, 2012
Avoiding negative behavior without any positive direction will simply lead back to bad behavior. After perusing through ACM’s Code of Ethics for computer professionals and checking out the keywords with this tool, I discovered a fascinating lexical pattern:
- Words with negative connotations such as violate, harm, prohibit, loss, and consequence all occurred at least 100x more frequently than in a regular text in the British National Corpus.
- Words with positive connotations such as benefit, good, improve, aid and help were nearly non existent.
With the first discovery, it’s obvious and appropriate that those who comply to a code of ethics need to be warned specifically against behavior they shouldn’t participate in.
But with the second discovery, it’s clear that ACM is giving no clear direction as to exactly what computer professional should do. It’s up to the individual to determine that. Avoiding negative behavior without any positive direction will lead back to bad behavior. As countless organizations and individuals have done, ACM omitted crucial positive reinforcement that’s necessary to actually make the world a better place.