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Hope for Responsibility

As a new developer I have certain thoughts and hopes to consider when looking at the grand view of the tech industry. I know that what I'm seeking is not simply a job, but a role in building something constantly shaping our world. This is my first post, so I thought I would use it as a way of remembering why I am entering the field in the first place.

A glance outside the window may not reveal a world dominated by methods and algorithms. But a deeper look at what people are talking about, what they are working on, and even how they decide where they are going - all of these reveal how greatly technology pervades our way of life. Coding is important because it produces an integral part of our daily life and work. Our society’s recent mass-descent into remote-working culture shows that these systems are ready to support massive societal shifts at a moment's notice.

We would then hope that the rest of our society is updated to same the degree. However, shocks to our social structure reveal certain issues. During the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous unemployment systems were unable to keep up with the massive influx of people in need. Some of these crucial systems were using archaic coding languages, left out of computer classrooms for decades. Similarly stresses to a food distribution program partly using outdated computers ultimately resulted in hundreds of children going hungry.

Despite our technological breakthroughs, if our society’s tech is not evenly updated, those populations who are most in need will likely be the ones who are most left out. Why are the technologies to find the top trending streamers more stable than the ones that are responsible for the livelihoods of thousands of families?

As much as we need individuals with the prowess to push tech forward, we also need those who will consider the ethical consequences of what we develop and where we develop them. Surveillance tech continues to advance in an alarming fashion. But in the recent outcry for police reform, some companies have put a pause to distributing the tech to law enforcement. More decisions like this are needed for the world we are developing, line by line.

These are the issues I am pondering as I take my first few steps into the industry. Good code helps people and communities flourish. Good code can also put them at risk. I understand that for my own contribution on the future, I should aim not only need to be a “good coder”, but also a responsible one.

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